Indigo pilot taken off duty after he ‘threatens’ 75-year-old passengerUpdated: Jan 15, 2020 00:42 IST
A pilot working for IndiGo was taken off duty pending further inquiry on Tuesday, according to the Union civil aviation minister Hardeep Puri, after a complaint from a woman passenger alleging that he threatened her 75-year-old mother for requesting wheelchair assistance.
Supriya Unni Nair, 50, was on IndiGo flight 6E 806 from Chennai to Bengaluru on Monday night when the alleged incident took place. Early on Tuesday, Nair posted a series of tweets recounting her experience, blaming the crew and captain Jayakrishnan Kadappa for their “abusive” behaviour.
“Why am I tweeting at 2:15 am? Because my mom was literally shaking by the time we got home. She had her meds and now she is mortified that Jayakrishna (the pilot) will carry out his threats and harm me,” she wrote.
In her tweets, Nair said that she and her mother, a diabetes patient, were returning from a funeral in Chennai, and had a comfortable journey until the flight landed in Bengaluru and other passengers disembarked. Since they had pre-booked a wheelchair, they waited for assistance. When no help was forthcoming, they tried to alert the crew by ringing the assistance bell. She then walked up to one of the crew members who said that the mother could not be provided a wheelchair.
“She 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,” Nair tweeted.
She added that the captain continued to shout at them. “How dare you call her Veena he asks. (FYI her name tag says Veena) 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 youre not going anywhere,” she tweeted, adding that the captain stopped the ground staff from taking her mother out of the aircraft and threatened them that he would ensure they were detained spent a night in jail.
In response to her posts, Union civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri tweeted on Tuesday afternoon: “I requested my office to contact @IndiGo6E as soon as I saw the tweet by Ms @SupriyaUnniNair about the pilot’s behaviour with her & her 75 yr old mother in need of wheelchair assistance. The airline has informed @MoCA_GoI that the pilot has been off-rostered pending full enquiry.”
IndiGo did not comment on the pilot’s de-rostering, but said in a statement that the matter was being reviewed. “We are aware of the complaint raised by a passenger on flight 6E 806 flying from Chennai to Bangalore last night. The matter is under internal review and necessary action will be taken. IndiGo is very cognisant 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.”
Earlier in the day, aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said it will investigate the incident. Arun Kumar, director general, DGCA, told HT, “We have ordered an enquiry and will take action if warranted.”
Nair said on Tuesday that her mother requested the captain to not be rude, to which he allegedly replied that his job was to fly, and not be polite to passengers. “[He said] You have paid piddly 2000 rupees you dont own the aircraft... will make sure you are barred from the skies he yells my mom and me,” she tweeted.
Nair was not available for comment despite repeated phone calls. Her phone was switched off.
The flight, which was scheduled to arrive in Bengaluru at 8.35 pm on Monday, landed around 9.14pm. Nair posted that the two were eventually helped by the ground staff of the airline who brought a wheelchair up the ladder and took them to a connecting bus to the airport terminal building. Nair filed a complaint at the terminal before leaving the airport premises.
In her tweets, Nair thanked the Bengaluru airport staff and officials from Central Industrial Security Force (CISF). “Once we reach the arrival lounge, we are held back again. Jayakrishna is standing there ranting that “we” are not slaves, threatening me with dire consuquences (sic) if I post about this on social media,” Nair tweeted.
The ground staff also apologised to them, she added.