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Airline sorry for saying no to shark victim's mum

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Budget airline Jetstar apologised on Friday after refusing to allow the grieving mother of a New Zealand man killed in a shark attack to change her flight on compassionate grounds.

Jeanette Strange of Wellington was already booked to travel from the capital to Auckland next week but tried to move the flight forward on Wednesday after learning her son Adam had been fatally mauled by a shark while swimming.

Strange's sister Kay Cresswell said she called Jetstar and told them about the tragedy but the airline refused to fly her sibling to Auckland to be with her son's devastated family unless she paid an NZ$321 ($265) fare change fee.

"I was disgusted with their lack of compassion and hung up," Cresswell told The Dominion Post newspaper, adding that her sister was given a discounted ticket with a rival airline after telling them of her circumstances.

Jetstar said changes to flights were available on compassionate grounds but needed supporting documentation, with any charges to be paid up-front then refunded later.

A spokesman said the offshoot of Australian flag carrier Qantas extended its sympathy to Jeanette Strange and her family.

"Jetstar appreciates this would have been a stressful situation and regrets if the service received by her relative from our call centre caused further distress," he said in a statement.

"We have contacted the relative and apologised for the way the call was handled."

Adam Strange, a 46-year-old film maker, died when he was attacked at Muriwai Beach west of Auckland on Wednesday in the first confirmed shark fatality in New Zealand for more than 35 years.

Police had to shoot the four metre (13 foot) predator from an inflatable boat to make it release Strange's body. It was believed to be a great white, the species depicted in Steven Spielberg's 1976 blockbuster "Jaws".

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130228/airline-sorry-saying-no-shark-victims-mum