From Deboarding Doc Over Mosquito Menace To Racism. 5 Times Airlines Told Us Who’s Boss

Rai, who is a vascular surgeon, was accused of attempting to hijack the plane, flying from Lucknow to Bengaluru on April 8

Recently, Bengaluru resident Dr Saurabh Rai was asked to deboard an IndiGo flight after the passenger complained about mosquitoes on the plane. Dr Rai, who is a vascular surgeon, was accused of attempting to hijack the plane, flying from Lucknow to Bengaluru on April 8.

Dr Rai was scheduled to fly to Bengaluru on 6E-541 flight when he raised the issue of a mosquito menace onboard. He also filmed a video, posted by ANI, where several passengers can be seen fanning themselves to prevent mosquito bites. “Look at this guys basically everybody in the plane trying to kill mosquitoes,” Dr Rai says in the video. “These mosquitoes are massive!” Reportedly, he then asked the staff if the passengers can be provided with mosquito repellants.

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Shortly after, the airline staff allegedly dragged Dr Rai by the collar and off-loaded him from the flight. “They held me by the collar and dragged me through the aisle, I heard crew saying ‘if you have a problem with mosquitoes then why don’t you leave India?’,” he told ANI.

Defending itself, the airline issued a statement alleging that Dr Rai was off-loaded due to his “unruly behaviour”. “He expressed concerns over mosquitoes on board. Before cabin crew could address his concerns he became aggressive & used threatening language. As matter escalated after closure of the aircraft doors, he attempted to instigate other passengers on board to damage the aircraft & used words such as ‘hijack’,” IndiGo claims in its statement.

According to reports from eyewitnesses, the airline staff behaved curtly with the passenger, asking him to take another flight to his destination.

Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu said, “I have ordered an enquiry into the incident of off-loading passenger Dr Saurabh Rai by Indigo at Lucknow Airport.”

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However, this isn’t the first time that a passenger has complained about uncivil behaviour by the airline staff.


In November last year, a passenger, Ms Urvashi Parikh Viren, fell off her wheelchair while being escorted by the staff at Lucknow airport. The airline was thoroughly condemned by the Airports Authority of India for its “gross negligence”.


The same month, a video had surfaced highlighting an incident from October 2017, where a 53-year-old passenger was manhandled by IndiGo’s staff at Indira Gandhi International Airport. In the video, the passenger was seen waiting outside a bus at the airport, when some members of the staff engaged in a verbal and physical spat with him.

Back then too, the airline had defended its actions saying that their staff acted in self-defence. Ironic how the airline was named Best Low-Cost Airline – Asia 2018 at the TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Award recently.


In May 2017, a former SC advocate Kawaljit Singh Bhatia alleged that his mother was harassed by Jet Airways officials at the Delhi International Airport. In a Facebook post, Singh claimed that she was handled so badly, that she sustained an injury and was even rendered unconscious.


Last April, cricketer Harbhajan Singh claimed that an expat Jet Airways pilot hurled racist comments at a passenger and also physically assaulted her. The cricketer also alleged that the pilot abused a physically challenged man.

In response to the incident, Jet Airways stated that they had “zero tolerance” on such cases and proceeded to investigate the matter.

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Back in 2012, another incident surfaced wherein a passenger, Jeeja Ghosh, with cerebral palsy was asked to deboard a Spicejet flight from Kolkata to Goa. Reportedly, Ghosh was deemed unfit to fly by the pilot. In 2016, the SC held Spicejet Airlines liable to pay Rs 10 lakh as damages to Ghosh saying that their actions depicted a “total lack of sensitivity”.