A low-cost Singapore-based airline, Scoot, was caught in a controversy after an Indian-origin couple accused employees of the airline of misbehaving with them because they were flying with their special needs child.
Divya George, an Indian-origin woman from Kerala, her husband and their five-year-old daughter, who suffers from a condition called muscular dystrophy, boarded a Scoot Airline flight on Thursday. However, what was to be the start of a family holiday to Phuket, changed into a "90-minute ordeal" when the airline employees started arguing with the couple.
The child, because of her condition, is unable to sit on her own and runs the risk of slipping down despite the seat belt and hurting herself. George narrated her ordeal in several Facebook posts, as she claimed that the airline staff refused to fly with the child until she was seated in her own seat.
George said that due to her condition, the child was unable to do so and needed to be held in her mother's lap with the help of a infant seat belt. However, the cabin crew and the flight captain refused to cooperate and threatened to deplane the family.
"Our request for using an infant seat belt was denied as she’s a child with her own seat. (While she’s 5 years old, she weighs 8.5 kilograms and is the size of a 1-year-old) The Captain cited safety reasons for his inability to let us fly while holding her on our lap with an infant seat belt. He refused to come out and speak to us for an hour and had SAT tell us we could either deboard or leave our daughter on her own seat. Finally when we did speak to him - On mentioning she could hurt herself and will slide off the seat he said 'then it’s the airlines lookout.' Shame !!! Saddened beyond words," one of George's several posts read.
The flight, which was scheduled to take off at 7:35 am from Singapore got delayed for over 90 minutes due to the argument. The couple sought to clarify to the airline staff that the child is small for her age and weighs only eight kilogrammes, hence she cannot be seated alone because of her condition. But the captain "refused them permission" and threatened that the family and their baggage will be offloaded the plane.
George claimed that the crew did not even provide them with an infant seat belt, even though they had informed the ground staff in advance.
George clarified in another Facebook post that she is a frequent flier and had taken 67 flights so far with the child. She said that she always faced minor difficulties but all other airlines helped iron out those issues and ensure a safe flight experience. George also clarified that she had paid for a separate seat for the child as per the rules, but insisted on holding her in her lap because of her condition.
George claimed that she was threatened with arrest when she and her husband refused to deplane the aircraft.
Scoot is yet to comment on the issue. However, the Singapore Airlines, which owns Scoot, refused to comment on the issue. "We are unable to comment as it did not happen on a flight operated by Singapore airlines," they told The News Minute.
Updated Date: Jun 14, 2018 17:58 PM