Passenger Claims He Was Booted Off Plane For Griping About Mosquitoes

A doctor in India said he was manhandled by airline staff after he reported mosquitoes on the plane before takeoff. The airline denied his claims.

A passenger aboard IndiGo airlines said he was forcibly removed from the plane after he complained about mosquitoes on the aircraft. 

Saurabh Rai, who is  a doctor in Bengaluru, told the HinduStan Times that shortly after boarding the plane at Lucknow airport, he found mosquitoes and reported them to the staff. 

He said that the airline staff roughed him up and mistreated him as they coerced him off the plane. 

“The staff termed me as a terrorist. They threatened me with dire consequences and [pressured] me to write an apology letter, which I refused as I had done no wrong. They mistreated me. I had to arrange my next ticket for Bengaluru after a lot of hardship,” alleged Rai. 

IndiGo denied manhandling Rai and said they removed him for unruly behavior.

The airline, which is India's largest by market share, said that Rai reported the mosquitoes, but before staff had a chance to address the issue, he launched into a tirade and used threatening language. 

IndiGo said he used language like "hijack" as he tried to rile up the other passengers. 

“Such actions are absolutely unacceptable, and there is zero tolerance for such threatening language on board an aircraft. Hence, keeping in mind applicable safety protocols, the crew apprised the pilot-in-command, who decided to offload Rai from the flight,” IndiGo said in a release. 

There is reason to believe that Rai was telling the truth about the annoying bugs. Video was posted on social media of passengers swatting mosquitoes on another flight also at Lucknow airport. 

IndiGo's explanation for the pesky insects seems to be that they aren't allowed to use insecticide while passengers are aboard. 

“Further, we would like to mention here that the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has prohibited disinfectant fumigation in aircraft while passengers are on board," the company's statement said. "This order is currently being challenged by IndiGo before the NGT and the same is pending for adjudication." 

The mosquito menace seems to be a somewhat common occurrence on Indian flights. In 2016, swarms of onboard mosquitoes caused two flight delays, one for Air India and the other for Jet Airways, at Mumbai International Airport. In both cases passengers complained, suggesting this is not something most Indians would consider acceptable. 

So Rai's discontent about the mosquitoes doesn't seem unreasonable. Even in India's tropical climate where mosquitoes are prevalent, the airline certainly could find a way to curb the problem. 

No video exists of Rai's alleged tirade against airline staff, so it's difficult to know whether he was out of line. But given how constricting an environment an airplane is, he certainly had the right to speak up about airborne vermin. 


Thumbnail/Banner Credits: REUTERS/Vivek Prakash/Files

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