IndiGo pilot slapped: Co-passenger aboard flight shares first hand account of incident

A man, who was aboard the Delhi-Goa IndiGo 6E-2175 flight where a passenger slapped the pilot after a 10-hour delay, has shared several details of the incident wherein he pointed out mismanagement on the part of the airline.

Taking to X, the man, named as Sonal Vij, said that while he does not “support violence”, IndiGo “took advantage and hid all their mismanagement and mistakes in lieu of what the passenger did”.

“Violence is unacceptable, but what about IndiGo’s mismanagement, unprofessionalism, and 185 passengers stranded without food for hours?” his post on the micro-blogging site read.

He said that the flight was supposed to depart from Delhi at 7:40 am on Sunday (January 14), but did not take off until 5.35 pm. “Boarding commenced at around 12:20 pm (after a delay of 5 hours due to bad weather) with approximately 186 passengers, including infants, young children, and elderly individuals,” Vij wrote on the micro-blogging site.

He alleged that despite the completion of boarding by 12:40 pm, the flight doors were not shut until 2:50 pm, with the ground staff telling the passengers the Air Traffic Control (ATC) did not clear the take-off immediately owing to “congestion”.

However, Sonal Vij said, at 1:30 pm – nearly an hour after the boarding was done – the pilot of the IndiGo flight “announced they are waiting for a crew member” after which the aircraft will depart shortly.

“It became evident that ground staff and crew provided misinformation. Crew members were observed being unprofessional, engaging in lenghthy conversations with the ground staff… Multiple requests from elderly passengers for water were ignored as they were busy in their own conversations,” he wrote on X.

Sonal Vij said that the crew member for whom the ground staff of IndiGo was waiting finally arrived at approximately 2:40 pm – two hours after the boarding was completed – and the “plane doors closed”. He said that even then the flight was not readied for take-off, causing passengers to inquire about the same and “verbal altercation with crew members”.

Referring to the slapping incident, Sonal Vij said that at around 3:20 pm, the assistant captain of the IndiGo flight came out of the cabin to address the passengers on the delay when the assault occurred.

He further said that food was provided to the passengers after 4 pm “after being locked in the plane for several hours”. “The incident raises questions about the handling of the situation by IndiGo. Shouldn’t authorities investigate the unprofessionalism conduct and ensure such mismanagement doesn’t recur?” Sonal Vij wrote on X.

He also shared a video, in which passengers could be heard asking questions to IndiGo crew regarding the delay. One woman can be heard saying that till the time the flight was delayed due to fog, “it was OK” – indicating the late arrival of the crew member that Sonal Vij mentioned in his first-hand account.

Similar details were provided by another woman, whose sister and a few members of her team, were on the Delhi-Goa IndiGo flight. Speaking to India Today TV, Evgenia Belskia said that the man – Sahil Kataria – who assaulted the pilot – was “not a bad guy” and added the incident could have been averted if the airline crew were nicer.

She accused the IndiGo pilot of blaming the passengers when they questioned him about the flight’s 10-hour delay. Evgenia Belskia claimed that passengers had to wait for several hours before take-off, of which around four hours were spent inside the narrow-body Airbus A320 Neo aircraft.

Sahil Kataria, whose video of physically assaulting the IndiGo flight pilot went viral on social media, was granted bail on Monday evening. He was deboarded following the incident and handed over to central security forces by the airline crew. In a video after being taken off the flight, Kataria was seen apologising for the assault.

In a statement, IndiGo later said that an internal committee has been formed to address the incident, and the passenger could be put on ‘no-fly’ list due to “unruly behaviour” as per regulatory guidelines.

Flight operations have been severely affected over the past few days due to thick fog in Delhi amid an intense cold wave.

Published On:

Jan 16, 2024

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