Accidents Abroad

Passenger wins damages after being scalded on easyJet flight

airline burn

Anne Thomson

Litigation Executive

6 min read time

A woman who was badly scalded when boiling hot coffee was spilled into her lap and down her leg on an easyJet flight has shared pictures of her injuries and called for lessons to be learned from her accident.

Ellen Masters, of Hemel Hempstead, says she hopes better procedures are followed on other flights, saying cabin crew were ‘unprepared’ to offer her the medical help she required.

Mrs Masters, who had been flying from Luton to Cyprus to meet her brother when the incident happened in October 2018, says she never received an apology from the airline, despite the injuries she suffered.

Instead, the airline denied any responsibility throughout legal representations, even though it has now agreed a damages settlement with her.

‘I only ever wanted an apology’

“All I ever wanted was an apology and some form of acknowledgement that what happened in the aftermath of the accident was not acceptable,” said Mrs Masters.

“Nobody said sorry, even when I tried getting answers on my return home. I may as well not have bothered. Nobody was interested and that’s why I ended up taking legal advice.

“I understand that accidents happen, and I am sure that there are many hot drink spillages on flights every year.

“What I couldn’t understand, given that it will be a common issue, was how unprepared the staff were to deal with it and how little they did to help me.”

Mrs Masters alleged that the coffee was spilled when a flight attendant, who had served her the drink and was handing over her change, knocked over her Ipad which she had propped up on her table, causing it to fall onto the cup of boiling black coffee.

“It all poured into my lap and down my leg and screamed out in agony,” she said.

“I shouted for some ice as I was burning and my jeans were soaked and sticking to my leg but an attendant said they weren’t allowed to give me any. I only had lukewarm water and I was half-standing at my seat and crying out in pain begging for help, but nobody offered any assistance to


Mrs Masters says she soon began to realise that a first aid kit was not immediately to hand, and that staff were frantically searching to find one.

“I saw the male attendant opening and shutting overhead lockers at the front of the plane, looking for the first aid kit. I couldn’t really believe what was happening,” she said.

“I was in intense pain and begging them to hurry up, but after more than five minutes and still without any help I decided I would just have to sort it myself because I knew the burns were severe and that I needed to get my jeans off and treat them in some way.

“I went to the toilet and finally the male attendant brought a really small gel wrapper which wasn’t anywhere near big enough. He then returned with a couple more packs, which still it wasn’t enough, and then I was given a cup with some ice cubes.

“I was in shock, feeling dizzy and trembling. I asked for bandages to secure the gel dressings and the attendant gave me an unwrapped dressing, which I refused as I said I needed safety pins.

“At this point they said they were still having trouble finding the first aid kit and they had to look in the cockpit for one behind the pilot’s seat.  Even then they couldn’t open it initially because it had a cable tie on it. It was completely chaotic.”

Wounds needed specialist dressing at hospital

On arriving at to Paphos, where her brother was waiting for her, Mrs Masters says she burst into tears.

“Everything I’d gone through for the final half hour or so of that flight just all came out and I was hysterical and in floods of tears. I’m just relieved we had travelled for two hours before it happened,” she said.

“When the plane landed nobody came to see me and ask how I was. I was told there were paramedics waiting but when I got off the plane they weren’t there and I had to go to the first aid room at the airport before my brother took me to his house.

“When I took off my dressings to show him he took me straight to hospital to have the wounds properly dressed and I was given antibiotics.”

During legal representations, lawyers acting for easyJet insisted Mrs Masters had spilled the drink herself. The cabin safety report of the incident, filled in by easyJet staff, said she had spilled the coffee when pulling out her handbag from under the table.

As a result, lawyers acting for easyJet initially said the airline would not be held liable for her injuries.

Anne Thomson, a specialist in handling cases relating to injuries suffered when travelling abroad at Hudgell Solicitors, pursued damages on behalf of Mrs Masters and says she was pleased to have secured her compensation.

“This lady suffered horrific injuries which have left her with scarring to this day and from the first time of speaking to her I believed her account of the events. She was very clear and consistent in what she said had happened,” she said.

“Sadly, as she’d travelled alone and the person sat next to her at the time was asleep, there were no other witnesses.

“Mrs Masters was determined that this incident shouldn’t be allowed to be brushed aside, which she felt was happening to her when she returned home and tried to make an official complaint.

“Her anger and frustration was never just about how the drink came to be spilled over her, but also about what she believed was a lack of appropriate care and support from the airline crew. She felt much more could, and should have been done.

“We see lots of these cases at our firm and, under the Montreal Convention 1999, passengers are well protected as airlines are held strictly liable in cases where injuries are suffered by an ‘unusual’ or ‘unexpected’ event.

“It was under that law that we brought this case against the airline and we are glad to have resolved the matter for our client.”

Mrs Masters added: “I am really grateful for the support of Hudgell Solicitors and Anne Thomson in particular. I can’t speak highly enough of her. She believed me and was prepared to help me challenge the airline. I am grateful for that support, and the fact that she secured me damages which far exceeded my expectations.

“I’d like to think that easyJet would use what happened to me as an example to improve training for cabin crew in circumstances like this and be better prepared in the future, but I’m not sure they will.

“There was no customer care when I raised my complaint. In fact one person said ‘what do you want me to do about it?’. That doesn’t fill me with confidence.”

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