Family given chance to celebrate graduation after dad was kicked off flight at Southampton Airport

WHEN a father was forced to miss his son's graduation after an airline kicked him off his flight, he thought he had missed his '˜once-in-a-lifetime' opportunity.

Thursday, 3rd August 2017, 1:14 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th September 2017, 12:14 pm
Dad David Podger, Tommy Podger and mum Lizzie at Petersfield Heath for the second graduation

Now, David Podger has now been given the chance to enjoy the moment and celebrate his son Tommy’s graduation after the university heard of his woes.

Leeds Trinity University sent down Tommy’s graduation robes and paid for a photographer to take the family pictures to allow the duo to celebrate the moment.

As reported in The News, the pair had been separated on Tommy’s big day when David was blocked from getting on to his Eastern Airways flight to Leeds from Southampton Airport due to the pilot’s concerns over excess weight on the flight.

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Mr Podger, from Petersfield, had been starring in a production of As You Like It in the town the night before and was left heartbroken.

But the part-time actor says he is ‘delighted’ with how things have worked out.

He said: ‘We were delighted by the offer made by Leeds Trinity and we then had the opportunity to re-capture a moment that we thought was lost to us. The photographs are fantastic, much better than I would have managed to take on the day.

‘While I was not able to be there for Tommy’s graduation ceremony, the generosity of the university has helped to make up for the frustration I felt on the day.

‘If only Eastern Airways were as good as Leeds Trinity in offering excellent customer service. It has not escaped us that the irony of the situation is that Tommy’s degree was in journalism and the media has played a part in bringing this story to a larger audience.’

The university acted after The News and other media outlets reported Mr Podger’s grievances with the airline.

Tommy said: ‘Obviously, I was very disappointed that my dad was not able to attend my graduation because Eastern Airways had bumped him off his flight, as I know how important it was for him to be there.

‘It was a lovely ceremony and a special day. However, it was also a chance for me to acknowledge the help and support that my family have always shown me and especially during the three years of studying at Trinity.

‘I would have loved to have shared the occasion with both my parents. Sadly, that was not possible.’

The graduate thanked the university for allowing the family to celebrate the occasion together, adding he was ‘extremely appreciative’ of the role the establishment played in sorting out the situation.

Mr Podger had been offered an alternative flight by the airline on the day of the graduation but any other flight would not have got him to the city in time for the ceremony.

Tim Leadbeater, director of student support at the university said: ‘We were really disappointed to hear Tommy was unable to celebrate graduation with his whole family and wanted to do something to make it right.’