A leading European airline allegedly offloaded an Indian family from a flight to Berlin from London because their three-year-old child was crying onboard.
According to the complaint filed by the family with Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu, the mother had managed to comfort the child before the plane taking off, but a cabin crew, in an unapproachable manner, asked the child to be seated which scared him more, after which he started sobbing desolately.
The aircraft, which was on its way to take off, returned to the terminal and the airline officials offloaded the Indian family and some other Indians sitting behind them.
The incident took place on British Airways London-Berlin flight (BA 8495) on July 23 with an Indian Engineering Services officer and his family.
The officer has filed a complaint with Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu in which he has alleged “humiliation and racial behaviour” by the airline.
Reacting on the incident, the British Airways said it does not “tolerate discrimination of any kind”, adding that an investigation is underway.
“We take such claims like this extremely seriously and do not tolerate discrimination of any kind. We have started a full investigation and are in direct contact with the customer,” a British Airways spokesperson said.
In his letter to Prabhu, the officer said when his wife fastened the seat belt to their son, he felt uncomfortable and started crying. While the mother was comforting the baby, a male crew member approached them and started shouting, and even scolded the child to go to his seat, he added.
“My son got terrified and started crying (inconsolably). Another Indian family sitting behind us offered the child some biscuits to console him. My wife again put the boy on his designated seat and fastened the seat belt even though he kept on crying,” the letter read.
“The same crew member came again and shouted at my son that ‘you bloody keep quiet otherwise you will be thrown out of the window’ and we would be offloaded. We were petrified,” it added.
The plane then returned to the terminal and the aircraft’s security personnel took away the boarding cards of the family and of those seated behind them.
The customer care service manager did not give reasons for offloading them nor the management took action against the crew despite lodging a complaint, he claimed.
“We had to make our own arrangements for staying and travelling to Berlin the next day by paying a very hefty amount,” he said, adding that the other Indian family was given tickets for a flight the next day, without any accommodation though.