India

‘Bloody keep quiet or you will be thrown out of the window,’ British Airways staffer told my 3-year-old son

Read about victim AP Pathak and family's ordeal in his letter to Union minister Suresh Prabhu.

New Delhi: An Indian family travelling on a British Airways flight from London to Berlin has alleged they were forced to get off the plane because their three-year-old child was crying.

The alleged incident happened on July 23 when a 1984 batch officer of the Indian Engineering Services was on board with his family, said the reports. “Our son started crying and a flight attendant came and threatened to offload us if our kid doesn’t keep quiet and after a while, he called security and we were offloaded,” AP Pathak said.

Pathak said he has complained to civil aviation minister Suresh Prabhu alleging “racial discrimination” by the airline.  “I have given a letter to aviation minister Suresh Prabhu and EAM Sushma Swaraj and complained to British Airways but they have not replied yet. It was an act of racial discrimination. I request an apology and compensation for the harassment of an Indian,” he said.

Read Pathak’s letter here:

To,

Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu ji,

Hon’ble Minister of Civil Aviation,

Rajiv Gandhi Bhawan,

Safdarjung Airport

New Delhi-110003

Subject: Humiliation and racial misbehaviour by British Airways towards a senior Indian bureaucrat by crew member of Flight no. BA8495 from London to Berlin on 23.07.2018.

Sir,

I am a Joint Secretary level officer in Government of India (ministry of Road Transport and Highways) bring to your notice the racist and humiliating treatment meted out to me, my wife and 3 years old son by male crew member staff of British Airways. 

I had a booking for myself, my wife (Manjubala Pathak) and 3 years old son (Puranjay Prakash Pathak) with British Airways Flight no. BA8495 dated 23.07.2018 from London to Berlin. When we entered the aircraft, we encountered the rude behaviour of the male crew member. To our request to guide us to our seats he rudely replied ‘search your seat yourself as written on your boarding card’. We struggled in searching our seats and eventually settled. After security announcement for seat belt, my wife fastened the seat belt to my 3 years old baby by putting him on his window seat but by making him to sit on separate seat my son felt uncomfortable and started crying. Then my wife managed to quiet him by taking him in her arms. Aggrieved upon this, that male crew member approached us and started shouting and scolded my three years old son to go to his seat. 

With this unusual behaviour of the male crew member, my son got terrified and started crying intensively. Other Indian family sitting behind us offered the child some biscuits to console him. My wife again put the boy on his designated seat and fastened the seat belt even though he kept on crying intensively being in terrified state of mind due to scolding by male crew member. Then plane started moving towards the runway and same crew member came again and shouted at my son that you bloody keep quiet otherwise you will be thrown out of the window and we would be offloaded from the plane. We were petrified with the rude and aggressive behaviour of that crew member.

After some time, the same crew member told the pilot to return to the parking slot and did what he said while scolding my child. After that crew member called the security personnel who took our boarding passes alongwith that of Indian family sitting behind us, who offered biscuits to my son. When asked about the reason for taking boarding passes they neither disclosed nor did they returned the passes to us. I made lot of requests with folded hands and told him that child was calm by then and there would be no problem in flying but the arrogant and racist crew member was not ready to listen. The crew member and the security staff humiliated me and other Indian family, who had offered biscuits to my son, in front of all the passengers on board. One more passenger, namely Mr. Sunil Pathak of Indian origin who was travelling with his 14 years old son, when he also tried to request the crew staff and security officials, he was also threatened by them and they warned him not to interfere in the matter else he would also be offloaded. Their objection started on the point that my three years old child was crying in the flight and had finally reached to this point. When I wanted to know the name of the male crew member, he did not disclose.

After that I, my family and other Indian family, which had offered biscuits to my son were offloaded and left on our own. However, other family members, namely, Mr. Arun Kumar Tiwari and Mrs. Chanda Tiwari questioned their offloading to BRITISH AIRWAYS CUSTOMER SERVICE AUTHORITY, then they were provided with ticket for next day flight from Heathrow without any accomodation and taxi fare, but nothing was provided to me and my family, rather we were humiliated and misbehaved by BA customer service staff even. When I requested the Customer Service Manager to give us the name of male crew member and reason for offloading in writing then he misbehaved with me and my wife and niether he disclosed the name of the crew member nor he gave reasons in writing. Then I made a verbal complaint of very “unprofessional, rude and racist behaviour of the said crew member to BA customer service office at the London city airport, especially scolding and shouting at my 3 years old son by crew member but no action was taken. We had to make our own arrangements for the stay and travelling to Berlin next day by paying very hefty amount.

I would like to reiterate and emphasize that the said crew member made racist remarks and used hatred words like ‘bloody’ about the Indians which is highly undesirable and contumacious to the respect of myself and my nation.

In view of above, I request to have the matter investigated thoroughly and take strictest possible action against the offending officials of the above said staff as you would appreciate that conduct of all such officials was of such a serious nature that it cannot be allowed to go unpunished.

The issue of crying babies during air journey was not a big and unruly children on flight is a passionate one for air travelers.

Thank you ,

Yours sincerely

(A.P. Pathak)

The airline on its part said that it takes such incidents “extremely seriously” and has initiated a “full investigation” into the matter. “We take such claims like this extremely seriously and do not tolerate discrimination of any kind. We have started a full investigation and are in direct contact with the customer,” a British Airways spokesperson said.

 

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