Grandad forced to stand for three hours on flight to Canada after his seat broke

David McKay, had to stand for more than three hours of a flight from Heathrow to Calgary in Canada after his airplane seat broke.
David McKay, had to stand for more than three hours of a flight from Heathrow to Calgary in Canada after his airplane seat broke.

An elderly widower was forced to stand for more than three hours on an aeroplane after his dream holiday to Canada turned into a nightmare.

David McKay, of Harton, South Shields, had planned the trip with his late wife, Liz, for his 70th birthday.

David McKay with late wife Liz.

David McKay with late wife Liz.

His beloved wife passed away in 2008, at the age of 61, from a brain tumour, and Mr McKay made the tough decision to go to Canada alone and fulfil her wishes.

But his hopes for a pleasant Transatlantic crossing were ruined when his seat broke just 10 minutes into his nine-hour flight.

After the grandad-of-four was unable to find a spare seat on the British Airways (BA) plane, attempts to prop up the seat with blankets were made.

But growing discomfort, including pains in his back and pins and needles in his legs, left Mr McKay with no option but to stand for around three and a half hours.

Nobody should have to stand for that long on a flight, never mind a 70-year-old man. The flight cost about £300 to £400 and offering me a bottle of whisky was insulting.

David McKay

Bosses at BA apologised, saying they “work hard to provide the best possible experience for customers” and that they offered Mr McKay a “gesture of goodwill”.

But the retired Port of Tyne dock manager says that its original offer of a bottle of whisky and final offer of £100 in evouchers just weren’t good enough.

The dad-of-two embarked on his holiday on August 29, days before his 70th birthday, flying from Newcastle to Heathrow, then on to Calgary in Canada.

He said: “Ten minutes into the Calgary flight, which is a nine and a half hour flight, my seat broke on the left-hand side, making the seat impossible to sit in.

“I told the cabin crew and they looked around but there were no spare seats. I asked for some blankets and tried to build the seat back up a bit, but it was still very uncomfortable and not fit for purpose.

“I kept getting pins and needles in my legs and terrible pains in my back, which is why I ended up standing for most of the flight.

“I was worried I might get deep vein thrombosis and the chair was unsafe because you have to be in the proper position when taking off and landing, but I couldn’t do that.”

Mr McKay said he was offered a bottle of whisky on the flight as compensation for his broken seat, but turned it down.

After returning home and contacting BA, he was then offered £20 worth of evouchers.

He said: “I told them these were useless to me because I very rarely fly with BA and it was an insult anyway. The bottle of whisky would have been better.”

Mr McKay said the offer was then increased to £40 in evouchers, then £100 in evouchers, with BA saying it would not take his complaint any further.

He said: “I had planned this trip for years with my wife, and after losing her it was a big decision to go alone, but I decided it’s what she would have wanted.

“It was a very emotional day when I was setting off and this made it a horrible experience for me. Thankfully the holiday was great, but it was very bitter-sweet.

“Nobody should have to stand for that long on a flight, never mind a 70-year-old man. The flight cost about £300 to £400 and offering me a bottle of whisky was insulting.”

A spokesman for BA said: “We work hard to provide the best possible experience for customers on our flights and we’re sorry that on this occasion we haven’t met our customer’s expectations.

“Our customer relations team has apologised and offered a gesture of goodwill.”