Flying a 180-seat aircraft with just six passengers on board may not be a value proposition for any airline but denying to do so amounts to ethical and legal violations.
India’s largest flyer, Indigo Airlines, found out a circuitous but tricky way to escape the nettles and rob six passengers of their flying rights to Chennai.
The incident took place at the Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) in Bengaluru on Sunday. Indigo’s Amritsar-Bengaluru-Chennai flight 6E478 landed at KIA around 9:30 pm. As the passengers deboarded, there were six flyers, including two elderly persons, bound for their onward journey to Chennai.
It is at this point that Indigo staffers lured the six out of the aircraft, promising to put them on board an alternative flight that was ready to depart. The passengers disembarked, only to realise they had been tricked because IndiGo was allegedly not willing to fly with only six on board.
With no other flight to Chennai that night, all six were forced to stay overnight in the city and fly out on Monday. To add insult to injury, the flyers alleged, IndiGo did not even arrange accommodation for them at the airport hotel.
IndiGo sources said two passengers were lodged in a hotel 13km from the airport for the night, while others decided to stay at the airport lounge. “All were accommodated on flights on Monday morning and flown to Chennai,” an airline official said.
The passengers, however, are aghast at the “blatant lying” by the IndiGo staffers, and want action for the inconvenience they faced.
“Six passengers, including I, were seated in the plane on the Bengaluru tarmac when I received a call on my mobile phone from an IndiGo ground crew member asking me to get off the flight as he was waiting for me inside the airport with my boarding pass for another flight, ready to depart to Chennai,” recalled a passenger.
The other five also received similar phone calls and frantically got off the plane.
The flyers argued with the staffers, who offered no assistance. “IndiGo’s assistant manager at the airport, Lloyd Pinto, came, but he too acted cold, with no sympathy for even the elderly passengers who were stranded. Finally, after admitting it was their fault, they had the audacity to deny us an airport hotel, saying we were not eligible,” said another passenger.