A schoolgirl travelling on her dream holiday was ‘scarred for life’ after she was scalded by a ‘dangerously hot drink’ during the flight.
Katie Brown, 11, suffered third degree burns when the Turkey-bound plane hit mild turbulence, spilling the boiling cup of hot chocolate over her stomach, legs and lap.
Her injuries were so severe the family were forced to abandon their family holiday and fly home so their daughter could undergo an urgent skin graft.
The schoolgirl’s parents Paul and Helena Brown have now launched legal action against the airline – claiming the incident was caused because the lid of the cup wasn’t secure.
Helena, 40, said: “My daughter has been left with third degree burns, had to undergo a skin graft and has been scarred for life by a simple cup of hot chocolate with a poorly fixed lid.
“It is unacceptable that the staff decided to serve a child with a drink at such a ridiculously hot temperature – nobody could drink it at that heat so why serve it that hot?
“To make matters worse they didn’t even attach the lid correctly. It was an accident waiting to happen.”
The ordeal began after Helena booked a dream family holiday to Ölüdeniz, Turkey with Thomson Airways in April, 2015.
The family-of-six set off on August 29 on the London Gatwick to Dalaman Airport flight and were just an hour away from their destination when Katie’s brother requested a hot chocolate.
The stewardess poured the drink and handed it over to Katie’s brother before he asked his sister to hold it just before the plane it a spot of mild turbulence – spilling the entire contents over Katie.
The boiling hot drink immediately had Katie screaming in agony while her mother took her to the back of the plane to remove her clothes and treat the injury.
Despite Katie’s obviously distress, Helena says the only treatment available on the plane were a few wet paper towels and three anti-burn gel packets.
Helena said: “Katie was in so much pain and really scared about what was happening but the stewardess didn’t seem to take her injuries very seriously at all.
“All they had on the plane were a few paper towels and gel packets but all the while Katie’s injuries were getting worse and she was in more and more pain.”
When the family arrived in Turkey airport staff had arranged for Katie to be collected by a wheelchair and rushed through passport control. However she was still forced to wait 45 minutes for her family to get through security before she could get an ambulance.
Katie was taken to Letoon hospital where she remained for two nights before being allowed to join her family in the resort under the supervision of the hotel doctor.
However just three days later she was forced to return to the hospital after her burns continued to deteriorate and was told by doctors she needed to go back to the UK for treatment.
Katie was flown back to London in a private plane and rushed into Chelsea and Westminster Hospital were medical experts revealed she would need to undergo a skin graft.
Helena said: “Her injuries just kept getting worse – they looked so bad one of the nurses at Chelsea and Westminster said they were the worst non-fire related burns injuries she had ever seen.
“Even so, we were still pretty shocked when they told us Katie would need a skin graft – we simply couldn’t believe the damage which had been done by a cup of hot chocolate.”
Katie spent nine days visiting the hospital and was unable to go back to school until the end of November.
Helena added: “Katie is such an optimistic girl and has tried to get through all of this with a smile on her face but it has been very difficult for her. All she wants is to go back on the holiday she missed out on and move on with her life.
“We are still all very angry about how this was allowed to happen. It is unacceptable that the airline served a drink to such a dangerous temperature and didn’t even put the lid on correctly.
“We have had no apology and no explanation – it just isn’t acceptable especially when you consider the damage this has done to a little girl.”
Rebecca Gilmore, specialist travel lawyer at Slater and Gordon, representing the family, said: “This was a horrific injury which left a very young girl with third degree burns and subsequently needing a skin graft. The degree of scarring she will be left with for the rest of her life remains to be seen.
“Katie’s parents cannot understand why anyone would serve a drink to the kind of temperature needed to cause such horrendous burns or why the lid was not secured properly.
“There is strict liability for accidents on board aircraft so the family is hopeful that Thomson Airways will deal with the claim swiftly to avoid further distress”.