Cancer survivor may miss dream holiday as airline ‘wont change surname’

Alison Tait from Edinburgh. Picture: Andrew O'Brien
Alison Tait from Edinburgh. Picture: Andrew O'Brien
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AN INSPIRATIONAL cancer survivor faces missing her dream trip to watch Scotland play rugby in Rome this weekend after an airline told her they would not alter the surname on her flight ticket.

Alison Tait, 48, planned the trip with her friend Susan Cameron, 51, to celebrate after they both completed rigorous bouts of treatment for breast cancer last year.

Mum of one Alison, from Edinburgh, also came through a divorce at the same time and while the name on her passport is now Tait, her Lufthansa tickets were booked under her married name of Bell.

The airline said in Twitter and Facebook correspondence that when a person is married or divorced, the name can be corrected with a copy of the marriage certificate as proof, “since it is still the same person travelling”.

But after sending documents to travel agent travelup, writing to Lufthansa officials and making numerous phone calls - costing more than £100 -- she says she has been told that the name change is not possible.

Alison, who was one of the “inspirational women” who successfully battled to have cancer drug Kadcyla approved for use in Scotland last year, said today: “I went through a divorce at the same time as I was going through my treatment for breast cancer, and eventually I had my passport updated.

“When Susan said she had booked Rome under my married name, I thought I might have to pay a small admin fee.

“I’ve contacted travelup and Lufthansa so many times -- on Facebook Lufthansa said a name correction could be offered free of charge if I can produce the necessary documents, and asked me to call a service centre in Germany.

“On Saturday I ended up calling them four times just to be told yet again ‘no, we can’t help you’.

“Not only have they told me two different things, but I’ve had to pay over £100 in phone calls to be let down at the end of it all.

“We had flights, hotels and match tickets put aside and now it looks like we can’t go -- all because of four letters.”

Bank project manager Alison was diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2016. She underwent nine cycles of chemotherapy, during which she became close friends with fellow project manager Susan, who was also receiving treatment.

The rugby fans decided that when their treatment was complete, they would celebrate by going to Italy to watch their sporting heroes in the final round of this season’s Six Nations tournament.

The £300 flights were bought through travelup in September last year, and the pair looked forward to their weekend until the problem emerged.

Alison said: “Susan and I had both come through the worst of our treatment so we just thought it would be a lovely thing to do.

“Cancer treatment is tough -- you lose all your hair and the rest of it -- but when you start to get back on your feet and look and feel a bit more like yourself, it’s good to have something to look forward to.

“We were dead excited about it. Neither of us had been to Rome before and Scotland are doing well at the rugby.

“It’s a big deal to travel abroad when you’ve not been well. You think, ‘next year, will we be well enough to do this?’ You just don’t know. Once you’ve had a cancer diagnosis you don’t take your future for granted.”

Susan, a single mum of one from North Berwick who has raised thousands of pounds for Cancer Research UK Kids and Teens, said: “It’s been a rubbish time and this trip was supposed to be a bit of light relief. We booked it way back in September and it was something we were both really looking forward to as we follow Scotland.

“Alison has been through a lot and I didn’t want this to cause any stress, but it’s become the most stressful thing ever.

“Lufthansa should have said at the very beginning, ‘we can sort this, and this is what we will do’. They could have sent us a couple of emails that we could have taken as proof. But they have been really unhelpful.”

Lufthansa were sent a request for comment, but have not replied.