Pragya Thakur blames airline for seat row; complains to airport chief

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Bhopal | Published: December 23, 2019 8:31:52 PM

A video purportedly showing the Bhopal MP locked in an argument on seat allotment with passengers on-board the flight on Saturday has gone viral on social media.

Thakur lodged a complaint with the director of the Raja Bhoj Airport

BJP Lok Sabha MP Pragya Thakur on Monday blamed SpiceJet for the controversy over allotment of seat to her on a Delhi-Bhopal flight of the private airline and said she has complained to airport authorities here and will also raise the issue with the civil aviation minister. A video purportedly showing the Bhopal MP locked in an argument on seat allotment with passengers on-board the flight on Saturday has gone viral on social media.

SpiceJet on Sunday said Thakur was asked by the crew on the Delhi-Bhopal flight to move to a non-emergency row seat as she was on a wheelchair but she refused, causing the flight to delay. While some restless passengers requested Thakur to change her seat from the emergency row, which is not allocated to wheelchair-bound travellers, to a non-emergency row, others requested the crew to offload her as she was refusing to move to another place, a SpiceJet spokesperson had said. Ultimately, the BJP MP acquiesced and moved to the seat on a non-emergency row.

A source said the flight got delayed by approximately 45 minutes due to this matter. After the dispute over the seat, Thakur lodged a complaint with the director of the Raja Bhoj Airport here. In the about one-and-a-half-minute long video, irate passengers can be seen raising their voice over the flight delay. A woman is heard asking the crew to take a decision (on Thakurs seat) and complaining about lack of professionalism and value for time.

Thakur then asks the private airline’s staff to show rulebook about accommodating wheelchair-bound passengers. “If it (rulebook) says (a wheelchair passenger cant be given a particular seat), I will change the seat,” she says.

A male passenger is heard telling her, If they are not able to show their rulebook… you are a public representative, your work is not to trouble people, you can take next flight. In reply, Thakur says she was going in this flight because of some compulsion and despite the fact that the plane did not have the first class section and required facility for her.

To this, the male passenger and some others are heard saying, It is not your right to travel in first class, you should have moral compass, if even one person is being troubled because of you, you should own up, because you are a leader. You should be ashamed (‘tumhe sharm ani chahiye’), you have held 50-odd people to ransom. Towards the end of the video, the BJP MP is seen raising objection to the remark, ‘tumhe sharm ani chahiye’.

Talking to reporters on Monday, Thakur sought to blame the private airline for the entire episode and she had paid extra money for the spacious seat that she was forced to vacate. I never violate any law, neither allow others to do so. I have problem in my spinal cord and legs. So, I need a spacious seat.

“I came on a wheelchair, got boarding pass and was allotted A1 seat. I paid extra charge for this, Thakur said. However, an air-hostess told her not to occupy that allotted place, saying it (A1) is an emergency seat, the MP said. The Lok Sabha member said she told the crew to show the rulebook about seats, but they didnt respond. In reply to a question, Thakur said she had complained to the Bhopal Airport director and will also take up the issue with the minister (civil aviation) concerned.

In a statement on Sunday, SpiceJet had said, Thakur had booked seat 1A and had come to the airport in her own wheelchair (to board on Delhi-Bhopal SpiceJet flight SG 2498). This was the emergency row seat and is not allocated to the passengers on wheelchairs. As Thakur had come with her own wheelchair and had not booked through the airline, the staff wasn’t aware of this fact that she was a wheelchair passenger, SpiceJet had said.

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