Charter plane company Talon Air on Tuesday waived the $36,000 cost of a round-trip flight to Florida for the Dix Hills family of Parkland shooting victim Scott J. Beigel the day after his mother posted the bill on Facebook.
Linda Beigel Schulman said in the Monday night post that the family chartered the plane from Republic Airport in East Farmingdale when she, her husband and her brother believed Beigel was still alive. They couldn’t find a commercial flight to take them to Florida, where a hospital was treating victims Feb. 14.
She wrote that the chartered plane costs included the price of the plane’s return flight from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to East Farmingdale. That plane carried no passengers.
“I have no problem accepting that I have to pay for one way, even the fuel charge for the return flight . . . but $18,229.56 for the return of the plane?” Beigel’s mother wrote. “Where is the compassion from Talon Air, Inc.???”
On Tuesday afternoon, Beigel Schulman posted a letter from Talon Air founder Adam Katz that said the company would refund the $18,000 the family had already paid. He also said the company would make an $18,000 donation to the Scott J. Beigel Memorial Fund, which the family established to send children to camp.
Katz wrote that he was “shocked and heartsick” when he was made aware of her post at midnight Monday.
“I pride myself on holding the Company to the highest ethical and moral standards that are humanly possible. That is why I am so grateful that we spoke today so that I could immediately correct this error,” his letter said.
A Talon representative confirmed that Katz had written the letter, but declined to comment further.
Beigel, 35, a Dix Hills-raised teacher and coach at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, was one of 17 people killed in the mass shooting. He has been hailed as a hero because he was trying to lock a classroom door to shield students hiding inside.
Beigel Schulman, in an interview Tuesday, said Katz’s letter “puts it behind us.” When she booked the flight, “this was a dire emergency. At that time, I was convinced Scott was in the hospital and I needed to get to my son,” she said.
The company had originally billed her $36,459.13 for the flights but knocked off $2,000 after she explained the circumstances and “after much back and forth,” according to her Facebook post.
Beigel Schulman wrote that when they first heard that a Parkland teacher and coach had been shot, the family tried to book a commercial flight from MacArthur, LaGuardia, Kennedy or Newark airports to Fort Lauderdale, but none were available.
“Without taking an extra second we got on the phone and proceeded to call charter plane companies pretty much begging to get us on a flight down to Ft. Lauderdale, the closest airport to the command center. We explained our circumstances to Talon Air, Inc. and they said they could have a plane ready to go in 90 minutes,” she wrote.
JetBlue offered free return flights for families of shooting victims, she said.
Beigel Schulman wrote Monday that she had waited to post about the charge “in hopes that the owner of Talon Air, Inc., would show some compassion.”
“This matter would never have been resolved had I not gone to social media,” she said in the interview Tuesday.
Because Talon Air had previously refunded $2,000 from the initial invoice, she said she would be returning the $2,000 to the company.