SEATAC, Wash. – A woman dying of breast cancer found herself in a battle with an airline as she tried to fly to South Korea from Sea-Tac Airport over the weekend.
Despite clearances from two different doctors, Korean Air refused to let Crystal Kim board their plane.
"I wanted to take my mom there for Mother's Day," said Crystal's daughter, Mimi.
But when they went to check in, the Kims said Korean Air told them Crystal look too frail to fly.
"The first thing out of the ticket agent's mouth was, 'Is she OK to fly? We need a doctor's note,'" said Mimi.
They had a note clearing Crystal to fly, but they said the airline wouldn’t allow it. Monday morning, the pair went back to Group Health to get another note.
"Her vitals are normal," said Mimi. "She is fit for travel."
But the Kims say Korean Air still wasn't satisfied. It would be up to the home office in Seoul to decide, so Monday's flight left without them.
"So for them to deny her boarding is just ludicrous. It's absolutely ludicrous, heartless and unbelievable," said Mimi.
Korean Air staffers had little to say about it Monday. In fact, they called the police as the Kims were sharing their story with KING 5. The employees didn't want to be on television.
Crystal was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer in February. She hoped combining eastern medicine with mainstream treatment can give her more time, which she planned to use to visit the country where she was born and reconnect with family.
But there is some good news at the end of all this: Delta Airlines said it would fly Crystal and Mimi on Wednesday.
After our story aired Monday night, Korean Air added some more details about its handling of the situation.
Spokesperson Penny Pfaelzer said the airline put the Kims up in a hotel as they tried to get the proper authorization for Crystal to fly. Pfaelzer said all airlines have policies and procedures to deal with passengers with medical conditions. She said if someone was to die in flight, other passengers on the plane would be "traumatized," not to mention those family members traveling with the person. She called it a truly unfortunate situation, but the airline is doing all it can to accommodate Crystal, who they believe is very ill and may not be up for the long flight.