The Bharatiya Janata Party MP from Bhopal, Pragya Singh Thakur, staged a protest in the Spicejet flight SG 2489 from Delhi, for being allegedly ill-treated by the airline staff. Thakur claimed that the airline did not allot her the seat that she booked, rather made her sit in a different seat.
The flight was delayed by 45 minutes because of her protest. She also lodged a complaint with the Raja Bhoj Airport director against the private carrier after alighting from the flight.
"They did not give me the allotted seat. I asked them to show the rules. I called the director and lodged the complaint with him," Thakur told reporters.
According to a SpiceJet spokesperson, Thakur had pre-booked seat 1A and had come to the airport in her own wheelchair. "The Delhi-Bhopal flight is operated by Bombardier Q400 aircraft (78 seater). On this aircraft, first row is the emergency row seat and is not allocated to passengers on wheelchairs," the spokesperson said.
The airline was not aware that Thakur was a wheelchair passenger as she had not booked it through SpiceJet. "Crew requested her to shift to 2 A/B (non-emergency row) due to safety reasons but she refused. The manager and staff also requested her to move to another seat. She asked for safety instruction document where exit door policy is mentioned and the same was shown to her to provide clarity," said the airline.
SpiceJet said that other passengers also requested Thakur to switch her seat. After she refused to do so, owing to the delay, the passengers urged the airline to offload her.
Following this, Thakur agreed to change her seat from 1A to 2B and the flight departed.
According to an IANS report, Thakur had refused to alight the plane after reaching Bhopal and stayed put on her seat on the plane for some time. After requests, she finally got down and lodged the complaint.
"I did not stage a dharna in the flight," said Thakur upon being asked about her protest.