Parkland Massacre Bill: ‘Are you kidding me?’
LINDA Schulman had just received the news every parent dreads; her son Scott Beigel had been shot at the school where he worked.
The distraught New York woman did everything possible to get to the geography teacher's side at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on that awful February day.
She desperately searched for flights to the area but found them sold out. By the time she had finally nabbed one with a private jet charter company, she was barely paying attention to the price tag. At a time like this, it just paled into insignificance.
So, in the midst of Ms Schulman's worst nightmare, Talon Air had a plane ready for her, along with her husband and brother, within 90 minutes.
Upon landing, she learnt that her son had died after unlocking his classroom door to let students seek shelter from a gunman.
Days later, the grieving mother was handed the bill for the flight. While she expected it would be expensive, this was on another level: $US36,000 ($A48,000).
After having little luck begging the company to slash the bill, Ms Schulman decided to take to Facebook to share her disbelief.
"Today marks day 74 since my son Scott J. Beigel was shot and killed senselessly at the Parkland massacre," she wrote in the April 30 post. "I have waited all this time in hopes that the owner of Talon Air, Inc. would show some compassion, but as you read on you will see that unfortunately he has not."
She said what shocked her the most was the fact that the family was charged for the return flight which they hadn't even travelled on.
"Even though I had never chartered a plane before, I knew it was going to be super expensive," she wrote. "It didn't matter what the cost - I had to get to my son!
"Talon Air, Inc. not only charged us $US18,229.57 one way, they charged us another $US18,229.56 to bring the plane back to Farmingdale because they did not have anyone wanting to charter the plane back from Fort Lauderdale. Really?"
Ms Schulman claims that when she contacted the airline to explain the circumstances, they were offered a $US1000 discount or a $US2000 donation to a charity of their choice. Eventually, they agreed to cut her bill further - slightly.
"After much back and forth, they agreed to reduce our $US36,459.13 charge to $US34,459.13. I ask, 'Are you kidding me?'
"I have no problem accepting that I have to pay for one way, even the fuel charge for the return flight ... but $US18,229.56 for the return of the plane? Where is the compassion from Talon Air, Inc.?"
She mentioned that the victims' families were offered free flights on JetBlue at the time.
Upon learning of what had happened, the company's CEO Adam Katz sprung into action, penning this outstanding letter to her where he offered to refund the cost of the one-way flight and donate the remaining airfare to charity.
"You have endured the greatest tragedy that no parent should have to confront," he wrote.
"No parent should have to go through what you and so many other parents have endured. My heart goes out to each and every one who has suffered so much pain, anguish and loss by virtue of this senseless act of violence."
He added: "I apologise for how poorly Talon initially handled this tragic matter."
Ms Schulman thanked Katz for his offer, which she accepted.