An AirAsia India pilot took drastic measures to get frustrated passengers off his plane.
The flight, which was traveling from Kolkata to Bagdogra, was delayed for more than four hours, which prompted passengers to become agitated, and an altercation with the airline staff ensued, according to the Hindustan Times.
“The flight was scheduled to depart at 9 a.m. and was initially delayed by 30 minutes. After boarding, we kept sitting inside the aircraft for one-and-a-half hours with no food or water at all,” said passenger and Indian Oil Corporation executive director Dipankar Ray.
At some point during the delay, the captain instructed all of the travelers to exit the aircraft without giving an explanation. The passengers were reluctant, however, because of the severe weather conditions outside.
“When passengers refused to deboard due to heavy rains outside, the captain put the air-conditioning blower on full blast to hound the passengers out. It created a scary scene as heavy fog was created inside the plane and it was very suffocating,” Ray said.
He also recounted that children began to cry during the ordeal and many women passengers started to vomit. Ray shared a video of the incident to his Facebook profile in which passengers and airline staff can be seen and heard arguing.
“This is the way aviation industry works in India. This #AirAsiaservice was particularly scary... Avoid Air Asia,” Ray said in the caption accompanying his video.
After the footage started to make its way across platforms, AirAsia released an apologetic statement about the delay.
“AirAsia India would like to confirm that flight i5583 from Kolkata to Bagdogra was delayed by 4.5 hours due to a technical requirement. AirAsia regrets the inconvenience caused to guests on account of this disruption and would like to reinstate that the airline always prioritises safety above all,” the company said.
As for the disturbing haze created by the blasting air-conditioning, the airline defended the situation, claiming “this is a normal occurrence on-board all aircraft when the air-conditioning is operated in high humidity conditions.”
The airline also said that all the passengers affected by the inconvenience were offered refreshments and provided alternate arrangements as requested; however, Ray refuted their claims.
He said that they were told to go to the food court after deboarding the plane and instructed to show their boarding passes to get food, but they were turned away when they got there.
“When we reached the food court, they refused us. There was no communication from AirAsia at all. We had to pay. When we were boarding the flight second time, then they gave us one sandwich and a 250 ml water bottle. This is an unacceptable treatment,” he said.
While the food court situation is up for debate as its Ray’s word against the airline, the troubling sight that he shared in his video onboard the plane looked anything but normal. It seems rather evident that the increase in cold air was a deliberate tactic to force people off the aircraft into the pouring rain after they had already been delayed for four hours.
Although the technical issues the plane experienced was out of the staff’s control, they should have better communicated what was going on to passengers and been more accommodating to them. After all, they did pay their hard-earned money for their seats on that flight.