New Delhi: The low-cost carrier SpiceJet on Sunday stated that its Delhi-Bhopal flight on Saturday with BJP MP Pragya Thakur on board was delayed after she refused the crew’s request to move to a non-emergency row seat. Ms Thakur was on a wheelchair.
While some “restless” passengers requested Ms Thakur to change her seat from the emergency row, which is not allocated to passengers on wheelchairs as per rules, to a non-emergency row, others requested the crew to offload her as she was refusing to change the seat, the airline said. Ultimately, the BJP MP from Bhopal agreed and moved to the seat on a non-emergency row.
Sources said the flight got delayed by approximately 45 minutes due to this episode.
In a statement, SpiceJet said that Ms Pragya Thakur was travelling on board SpiceJet flight SG 2498 (Delhi-Bhopal) on December 21 and that she 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).
SpiceJet said, “On this aircraft, the first row is the emergency row seat and is not allocated to passengers on wheelchairs. As Ms Thakur had come with her own wheelchair and had not booked through the airline, the staff wasn’t aware of this fact that she was a wheelchair passenger. She was requested by the crew to shift to 2 A/B (non-emergency row) due to safety reasons but she refused. The duty manager and other staff also requested her to move to another seat.”
SpiceJet added, “She asked for the safety instruction document wherein the exit door policy is mentioned and the same was shown to her. As the flight was getting delayed, other passengers were becoming restless and requested Ms Thakur to change her seat but she refused. Other passengers also requested the airline staff to offload Ms Thakur. Finally, she agreed to change her seat from 1A to 2B and the flight departed. We regret the inconvenience caused. However, safety of our passengers is paramount at SpiceJet.”
According to news agency reports, the SpiceJet statement came a day after Ms Thakur complained that the airline had denied her the seat she had booked. When the media approached her outside the Bhopal airport on Saturday night, she alleged the airline staff “did not behave properly with passengers”, according to news agency reports.
“They did not give me the booked seat. I called the director and lodged a complaint with him,” the Bhopal MP was quoted as saying.
The airport director, Anil Vikram, confirmed he received a complaint from Ms Thakur.