Virgin threatens to kick family off flight over Facebook complaint

A distressed mum claims a Virgin Australia staff member threatened to kick her and her family off a flight if she posted a complaint about delays on social media.

Katie Kolenberg, her partner Jeremy Byrnes and baby August were booked on a flight from Canberra to Cairns with a stopover in Sydney on Wednesday.

Ms Kolenberg experienced a delay of about five hours and says she was offered little help from the airline to help settle her baby.

The  frustrated mum told a Virgin staff member at the airport she was going to post about her experience on Facebook “to try and get a response”. 

But the staff member told the family if she did, they would kick her off the flight. 

Virgin Australia told Yahoo7 in a statement the airline welcomes social media feedback but “does not tolerate abuse towards our staff”, suggesting it was not impressed by Ms Kolenberg’s demands.

“We understand delays can be frustrating to our guests and we do everything we can to avoid them,” Virgin Australia said in the statement.

Katie Kolenberg, her partner Jeremy Byrnes and baby August. Source: Supplied/ Katie Kolenberg

Ms Kolenberg said the plane was initially set to take off at 11.30am but was delayed until 5.30pm with a stop in Brisbane.

The mum told Yahoo7 she was on her first trip with August.

“We couldn’t leave the airport easily because we had a baby and no transport,” she said.

“I asked for help as it was a pretty unfair situation to be in with a baby. Hardly the same as travelling on your own. We had prepared for five hours transit, not 12.”

Ms Kolenberg said she asked staff for access to the lounge – “somewhere we could be comfortable for our five-hour wait with August”. She added the family “would never choose to fly at night time with a baby” unless they had no choice.

“They (Virgin staff) were giving us nothing,” she said.

“They said no to every request and couldn’t even be bothered trying to be nice to us.”

Ms Kolenberg added “it was over an hour before we were offered a meal voucher”.

The Virgin Australia flight was delayed by about five hours. File pic. Source: AAP

In response to the threat of being kicked off the flight if she posted to Facebook Ms Kolenberg said she was “too scared” and just wanted to get the family to their destination.

They ended up arriving at their hotel at Palm Cove on Wednesday about 11pm after leaving Canberra on the delayed flight.

The woman acknowledged “delays are a normal part of travel” and her family are “well travelled people” but she’s unhappy with the conversation with Virgin staff. 

“What was wrong, was how they treated us,” she said.