Source : The Times of India, Last updated : 14 Jan 2020,4:04 pm

IndiGo grounds pilot to probe alleged misbehaviour with 75-year-old passenger's family

IndiGo grounds pilot to probe alleged misbehaviour with 75-year-old passenger's family
NEW DELHI: IndiGo has grounded a senior pilot for allegedly misbehaving with a 75-year-old lady passenger -- who required wheelchair assistance -- and her family pending inquiry. In a series of tweets, Bengaluru-based Supriya Unni Nair on Tuesday narrated the alleged harassment by the captain where the latter threatened Nair and her 75-year-old mother on a flight they took on Monday.

When aviation minister HS Puri saw Nair’s tweets, he asked his office to immediately take up the issue with IndiGo. “The airline has informed the aviation ministry that the pilot has been off-rostered (meaning will not be assigned flights) pending full inquiry,” Puri tweeted.

DGCA chief Arun Kumar has ordered an inquiry into this alleged case of passenger harassment. “We will take action as per regulations (once probe is over),” Kumar said.

Comments from IndiGo have been sought and are awaited.

From her handle @SupriyaUnniNair, Nair said in a series of tweets: “Your (IndiGo’s) captain on 6E 806 from Chennai to Bangalore on January 13 (name) harassed, threatened and prevented me and my 75-year old diabetic mom from disembarking the flight and threatened to arrest us because we asked for wheelchair assistance. I always ask for wheelchair beforehand for my mom and remind staff when we land …. Our flight was late and when we landed at 9:15 pm, I tried calling the assistance bell and when the crew didn’t respond, I walked up for help.”

“She (the cabin crew) claimed we don’t have access to a wheelchair when it was clearly printed on the ticket. When I pointed this out to her, the captain came barging out and yells at me for pressing the assistance button and annoying him and his crew. ‘How dare hi you call her (the cabin crew),’ he asks. Taken aback, I tell him not to yell at me and then the threats start. The wheelchair guys arrive and he points at mom and says you’re not going anywhere.”

“He prevents the wheelchair people from taking my mom out of the aircraft threatening us that he will ensure we are detained and spend a night in jail. Disbelievingly I ask him whether he is serious. ‘Shut up. Who do you think I am? I'll get my CEO to make sure you spend a night in jail. We will teach you some manners,’ he says,” Nair's chain of tweets read.

“My mom in the meanwhile is worried as he is so aggressive that he looks like he will get physically abusive with me and says please don’t be rude like that, to which he says he is the captain, his job is to fly the plane here and not be polite to mere passengers. ‘You have paid piddly Rs 2,000, you don’t own the aircraft,’ he adds. ‘I will make sure you are barred from the skies’," she says.

“The security folks and the IndiGo ground staff meanwhile come and try and get us off the flight. We reach the bus and the captain is meanwhile ranting and stops it from moving forward. We are the only ones on the bus and it’s getting late for mom’s medicines. Bangalore airport staff, the CISF security and Indigo ground staff meanwhile are amazing and try to protect me and my mom as well during this time and are apologising profusely. Once we reach the arrival lounge, we are held back again. (Captain) is standing there ranting that ‘we’ are not slaves, threatening me with dire consequences if I post about this on social media,” she says, adding, “Captain’s parting shot was another threat that there will be an FIR filed against me and my mom… NONE of the other crew onboard 6E 806 intervened or helped us on the plane.”

An IndiGo spokesperson said: "We are aware of the complaint raised by a passenger on flight 6E 806 flying from Chennai to Bangalore (Monday) night. The matter is under internal review and necessary action will be taken. IndiGo is very cognizant of the needs of its customers and it is our constant endeavour to provide a courteous and hassle-free experience to our passengers. Our customer relations team has been in touch with the customer to ensure that her concern is understood well, and to help avoid any such experiences in the future."

While findings of the DGCA-ordered probe in this case are awaited, this is not the first time IndiGo is in news for alleged misbehavior with passengers. On October 2017, the airline’s ground staff had manhandled and dragged a passenger at Delhi Airport on the tarmac.
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