Indian-origin Singapore residents Divya George, her husband and five-year-old daughter were going for a three-day vacation to Phuket on Thursday morning.
However, what the family did not anticipate was that they would be mistreated by the airlines, with the Captain even insisting that they disembark.
The captain of Singapore Airlines’ low-cost airline Scoot refused to fly with the couple’s daughter with special needs, citing safety reasons, alleges Divya.
Divya, originally from Kochi in Kerala, told TNM over phone that the captain of the aircraft refused to fly with her her 5-year-old, who has a condition called muscular dystrophy. Narrating the ordeal, Divya said:
“Our daughter cannot sit alone in her seat, if she does that, she’ll fall off and hurt her back. This is not the first time we are flying with her and none of the other airlines have refused to fly with her. I keep her in my lap throughout the flight and they provide me with an infant seat belt. But this time, the Captain outrightly refused to fly with her on my lap and insisted that she sits in her seat.”
The family refused to deplane, and resisted for more than an hour. There were heated arguments with the crew and finally the plane took off.
“During the take off, my husband and I held on to our daughter from either sides, so that she won’t fall off. Soon after the take off, I took her in my lap,” Divya added.
The crew did not even provide them with an infant seat belt, Divya said.
Divya said that despite her explaining to the crew members of her daughter’s condition, the captain continued to insist that her child either sit in her own seat, or the family must deplane.
“The Captain in fact, did not even come out for an hour. He refused to speak to us. Finally I went up to his cabin and that’s when he spoke to me. Even then, he closed the cabin screen so that the other passengers could not see him. He said that we should let my daughter sit in her seat and while I explained that she could hurt herself by doing so, he told me that it would be the airline’s responsibility if anything happens to her,” Divya said.
Divya said that she frequently flies down to her native place Kochi with her daughter, but has never faced such a situation before. Divya has now decided to take up the issue with the airlines.