Turbulent times seem to be never-ending for IndiGo Airlines as the carrier has now been accused of offloading a passenger after he complained of mosquitoes on board. Dr. Saurabh Rai was deplaned at the Lucknow airport Monday, April 9, after he reportedly had an altercation with the crew over mosquitoes in the aircraft.
Rai boarded the plane at the Lucknow complained about the mosquitoes, but was asked to be quiet and take his place. In a video posted online, he reportedly said he was manhandled by the staff. "They (the crew members) called me a terrorist and said that I was a threat to other passengers," he is reportedly heard saying in the video.
While fellow passengers said that Rai, a surgeon from Bengaluru, was forcibly offloaded from the Indigo flight 6E 541, IndiGo Airlines said that he was aggressive and even used the word "hijack."
In a statement, the no-frills carrier said: "Mr. Saurabh Rai, who was scheduled to fly this morning on 6E-541 from Lucknow to Bangalore, was offloaded on grounds of unruly behavior. Prior to take-off, Mr. Rai expressed concerns regarding mosquitoes on board."
"However, before the cabin crew on board could address his concerns, Mr. Rai aggressively expressed his annoyance and started to use threatening language. As the matter escalated after the closure of the aircraft doors, Mr. Rai attempted to instigate other passengers on board to damage the aircraft, and used words such as 'hijack.'"
The budget carrier also said that the airline has zero tolerance for such threatening language and that the decision was taken based on safety protocols.
Rai also said that he wasn't provided with any means of transport to go back to the terminal and had to return on foot.
The civil aviation minister Suresh Prabhu has now ordered a probe into the incident and tweeted about the same.
I have ordered an enquiry into the incident of off-loading passenger Dr Saurabh Rai by Indigo at Lucknow Airport— Suresh Prabhu (@sureshpprabhu) April 10, 2018
The budget carrier has been accused of such high-handedness in the past as well. In November 2017, the ground staff of the carrier was accused of manhandling and assaulting a passenger at the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport, New Delhi.
Rajeev Katyal, got into an argument with a ground personnel after he deplaned from a flight and was waiting for the bus. He was then abused and manhandled, and the airlines' ground staff dragged him on the tarmac.
"I was standing under the shade of the aeroplane waiting for the bus when a person from the ground staff yelled at me and asked me to move away," Deccan Chronicle quoted the passenger as saying. The IndiGo staff is then said to have gotten annoyed and retorted: "Don't teach us our job."
A few days later, a woman at the Guwahati airport accused the airline's ground staff of misbehaving with her. Lawyer Krishna Sarma's mobile phone was snatched by a staff, who then tried to delete a few images that the passenger had taken.
While IndiGo Airlines said that it regretted the "unpleasant experience" and noted that based on Sarma's complaint, it had suspended the two employees, the step is unlikely to help rebuild its image.