A woman has accused Virgin Atlantic of losing her late husband’s ashes before a flight to Florida, where she intended to take them to Disney World.
Joyce Jackson, of Abergele, Wales, told North Wales Live that she had been flying to Orlando, Florida with some of her husband Gordon’s cremated remains, as well as their wedding rings, in her hold luggage.
The 4 October trip was to mark what would have been Mr Jackson’s 80th birthday; he died two years previously at the age of 78.
Mrs Jackson says she hoped to bury Mr Jackson’s ashes, along with the rings, in the gardens of the Caribbean Beach Resort, their favourite place in Walt Disney World Florida.
“Gordon absolutely loved it there. He would talk to the characters. It wasn’t a pilgrimage but I wanted to bury some of his ashes and our wedding rings there,” Mrs Jackson said.
She had transported the wedding rings and some of Mr Jackson’s ashes in a single, grey suitcase that she checked in at Manchester Airport.
Mrs Jackson blamed what she called a “flimsy” luggage tag attached to her case by airline ground staff at Manchester for the precious cargo going astray. She says she had told staff that there were sentimental items inside the suitcase.
“At Manchester Airport I was told I had to use the self-service bag drop. I did that and got a luggage label,” she said.
“A man put it on. It wasn’t a sticky label where you loop it round a handle and stick both ends together. It was more like a paper one. But it must have come off.
“I got to Orlando, and no luggage. I travel light and I only had what I was wearing – not even a toothbrush.”
“But the worst thing about it was the ashes and rings were in the suitcase. I know you can’t take [the entirety of] a person’s ashes with you so I only had a few ashes and our wedding rings.
“I was going to bury them in a garden at Caribbean Beach Resort. The main ashes are in a rose pot in our garden.”
She criticised airline staff for their response to the missing luggage, saying, “it was as if Virgin Atlantic didn’t care.”
Despite arriving to Orlando without the vital suitcase, Mrs Jackson decided to go ahead and enjoy her Florida trip. “Gordon would have said: ‘Good on you’,” she said.
“I couldn’t stay in a hotel room. I did go out every day. I had to enjoy it. I went on the boats and the cable cars – I went to the places that we loved.”
However, the lost luggage did sour the trip somewhat. “I had to wash my underwear every night with shower gel,” she added.
“But Disney were very good, considering it was not their problem. They gave me a toothbrush and arranged for a taxi to take me to a supermarket so I could buy hairspray and toothpaste. I also bought three dresses, a T-shirt and a bag.”
Eventually, Virgin Atlantic traced Mrs Jackson’s lost case to Manchester Airport, where it had remained all along. Mrs Jackson returned to Manchester on 13 October and was reunited with her luggage.
However, she will now be unable to make the trip to leave the ashes and rings in the couple’s favourite spot. “I can’t go back because I can’t afford it and I’m 78,” she said.
A Virgin Atlantic spokesperson said: “We’re sincerely sorry that Mrs Jackson did not receive her luggage in Orlando, particularly in these circumstances.
“We’re investigating what happened at Manchester Airport and will be in touch with Mrs Jackson directly.”
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