British Airways offloads Indian family after 3-year-old baby cries in airplane

New Delhi, Aug 9 (TOI): An Indian family has alleged that a leading European airline offloaded them from the flight because their three-year-old child was crying. While the child’s mother had managed to comfort the child when the plane was taxiing for takeoff, the allegedly intimidating behaviour of a cabin crew while asking the child to be seated scared the kid even more and then he started sobbing inconsolably.  

The aircraft then returned to the terminal and the Indian family, along with a few other Indians seated behind them, were offloaded. This alleged racial behaviour took place on British Airways London-Berlin flight (BA 8495) of July 23 with a 1984 batch officer of Indian Engineering Services currently posted in the road transport ministry and his family.  

The joint secretary-level officer has now complained to aviation minister Suresh Prabhu, alleging “humiliation and racial behaviour” by the airline. A British Airways spokesperson said: “We take such claims like this extremely seriously and do not tolerate discrimination of any kind. We have started a full investigation and are in direct contact with the customer.”  

The officer’s letter to Prabhu says: “After security announcement for seat belt, my wife fastened the seat belt to my three-year-old baby... (Seated on a separate seat) my son felt uncomfortable and started crying. My wife managed to (comfort) him by taking him in her arms…. male crew member approached us and started shouting.. scolded my son to go to his seat...” “...My son got terrified and started crying (inconsolably). (An)other Indian family sitting behind us offered the child some biscuits to console him. My wife again put the boy on his designated seat and fastened the seat belt even though he kept on crying...,” the letter says. 

The aircraft then started taxiing to the runway. “(The) same crew member came again and shouted at my son that ‘you bloody keep quiet otherwise you will be thrown out of the window’ and we would be offloaded. We were petrified,” it adds. 

The plane then returned to the terminal. The officer says the crew member called in security personnel to the aircraft who took away their boarding cards and of those seated behind them. “My family and other Indian family, which had offered biscuits to my son, were offloaded….,” the complaint said.  

The family then made its own arrangement to travel from London City airport to London. “…the crew member made racist remarks and used words like ‘bloody’ about Indians…. I request to have the matter investigated and take strictest possible action,” he concludes.