New Delhi, Dec 22 (IANS) Reacting to BJP MP Pragya Singh Thakur’s complaint and protest over “ill-treatment”, budget airline SpiceJet on Sunday said that it regretted the inconvenience faced by the controversial Member of Parliament from Bhopal, however, adding that safety of passengers is of utmost importance for the airline.
In its clarification, the airline said that Thakur was not allowed to sit on the pre-alloted seat as it was in the first row — the emergency row — where seats are not allocated to passengers on wheelchairs. The airline said that its staff was not aware that she was a wheelchair passenger as she had not booked the wheelchair through the airline and had come on her own wheelchair.
SpiceJet was at the receiving end of Thakur’s ire on Saturday evening as she created a scene and registered protest over being ill-treated by the airline’s staff at the local airport after her flight from Delhi.
She lodged a complaint to the Raja Bhoj Airport director against the private carrier after alighting from flight SG 2489 from Delhi. Sources said that after reaching Bhopal airport, Pragya did not alight and stayed put on her seat on the plane for some time after the flight landed. After requests she finally got down and lodged the complaint, they said.
“SpiceJet had the privilege to have Pragya Thakur on board SpiceJet flight SG 2498 (Delhi-Bhopal) on December 21. 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). On this aircraft, the first row is the emergency row seat and is not allocated to passengers on wheelchairs. As the 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,” a SpiceJet spokesperson said.
It further said that 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, while she asked for the safety instruction document wherein the exit door policy is mentioned and the same was shown to her to provide clarity.
“As the flight was getting delayed other passengers were becoming restless and requested Thakur to change her seat but she refused. Other passengers also requested the airline staff to offload Thakur as she refused to change her seat. Finally, Pragya Thakur agreed to change her seat from 1A to 2B and the flight departed.”
“We regret for the inconvenience caused. However, safety of our passengers is paramount at SpiceJet,” the spokesperson added.
The 49-year old MP told reporters in Bhopal: “I have told the authorities. Spice Jet flight staff does not behave properly with the passengers. Their conduct was not proper earlier too. I had the same complaint today…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.
“I have received a complaint from her over seat allotment. We will look into it on Monday,” said airport Director Anil Vikram.
Raja Bhoj Airport Director Anil Vikram confirmed of receiving a complaint from her over seat allotment and said that the matter would be looked into on Monday.