When Isobel Mebus saw an upset mother and her two young children being kicked off their flight to Auckland, she said she really felt for her.
The young family weren't allowed to board their Jetstar flight from Queenstown Airport because one of the children wasn't wearing any footwear.
Mebus, who's from the Wairarapa, witnessed the scene unfold on Wednesday as she waited to board her Air New Zealand flight from Queenstown to Wellington.
Speaking to Stuff.co.nz, she said the mother was with her two young children: a baby girl she was carrying in her arms, and a boy aged about four who wasn't wearing shoes in the airport's boarding area.
Jetstar staff would not let the mother board her flight because of a policy that requires all passengers to wear shoes. The airline's terms and conditions state that they have the right to refuse passengers if they're not wearing footwear.
Mebus said a lot of people who were waiting to board their own flights rallied to help the woman, who was visibly upset.
An older couple offered to buy her son shoes, but they weren't able to go back through the security gates to do so.
Another woman offered to lend a pair of shoes to the child so the woman and children could board the flight. However a Jetstar spokesperson said the passenger's offer was later withdrawn after Jetstar staff explained that the shoes had to be worn for the entire flight including boarding and disembarking.
Other people offered to carry the child to the aircraft as the mother was already was carrying her baby, Mebus said.
Mebus said the mother was "quite upset actually at this point". "She was crying" and was sweating. "It was awful," she said.
The people around her were "doing the decent thing and trying to help" but Mebus said unfortunately it didn't make any difference. The mother and her children were still not allowed to board their flight.
Because the woman wasn't allowed to fly, her checked-in baggage was unloaded from the plane and there were some delays to other flights. Mebus's flight to Wellington was delayed by almost half an hour, she said.
But she wasn't concerned about the small delay as it was "not important compared to what that poor mother was going through".
Mebus said she wasn't the type of person that got upset easily but she really felt for the young mother.
She said lots of kids didn't wear shoes in the summer and she was surprised by the whole situation. "It was just really bad service."
She hoped the woman would read the story and that it might help her feel a bit better knowing that "other people thought it was wrong and backed her".
The Jetstar spokesperson confirmed the family were unable to board their Queenstown to Auckland flight on Wednesday because a passenger wasn't wearing shoes.
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However the spokesperson said the family did board another flight on Thursday morning, at no additional cost.
"We understand this was frustrating for the family, however for safety reasons, we require all passengers to wear footwear when boarding, while inflight and when disembarking our aircraft."
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