Page last updated at 16:23 GMT, Saturday, 5 April 2008 17:23 UK

Father wrongly told of air death

Chris Miller
Mr Miller says his family deserves compensation over the ordeal

An airline has apologised for wrongly telling a father a member of his family had died during a long-distance trip.

Chris Miller of Whitley Bay, Tyneside, was told a flight carrying his partner and children had landed in India because another passenger was ill.

He also learnt his children had been taken for treatment for chicken pox.

But when the other passenger died, Emirates contacted Mr Miller in error. The airline said its staff had been distressed by the exceptional events.

Mr Miller said he had received a call from someone saying: "I have a couple of numbers for you, the first number is the undertakers dealing with the body".

Mr Miller said: "At that point I believed one of my family was dead. I said, 'What happened, what's going on?' but they put the phone down on me.

Obviously to Emirates, putting a family through absolute hell is worth nothing
Chris Miller

"I ended up sitting in a state of utter disbelief and shock, my whole life was falling apart.

"Then after 10 seconds they rang again to say it was a mistake."

Mr Miller's partner Nicole Toole, 34, and children, Harry aged one and Victoria aged three, were on their way back from a visit to Australia.

Treatment in India

Harry fell ill with chicken pox before his sister also contracted an infection and they were taken off the plane for treatment in India.

Mr Miller was given a complimentary ticket to see his family but said that was not enough to compensate for the trauma.

We have sincerely apologised to Mr Miller for his upsetting experience
Emirates' statement

"They are not willing to provide a single penny of compensation", he added.

"Obviously to Emirates, putting a family through absolute hell is worth nothing. It is an unbelievable feeling to think one of your loved ones has died."

In a statement Emirates said: "We have sincerely apologised to Mr Miller for his upsetting experience.

"There were exceptional circumstances surrounding the flight from Melbourne which involved a young man being taken seriously ill on board and dying in tragic circumstances.

"It was a distressing period for both our staff and passengers."

The passenger who died was Michael Edgeley, 22, from Penwortham, near Preston.

He was given emergency oxygen treatment by cabin crew but died in the ambulance. The cause is under investigation.

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