Singapore Airlines Crew Threatens To Have Passengers Arrested Over Complaints During 4 Hour Delay On Singapore-Calcutta Flight


A delayed Singapore Airlines flight from Singapore to Calcutta was the source trouble the other day after a faulty air condition of the aircraft caused a delay of 4 hours during which the passengers were forced to remain on board.

The crew didn’t update or inform passengers about the source of the issue and after some passengers complained the crew members threatened them with arrest by the police.

Ground delays are frustrating but technical defects on aircraft are often complicated and take some time to fix. Though this is all very well the best to keep passengers calm and in an understanding mood is to update them with honest answers during such delays because if the crew doesn’t provide an explanation for long delays then a situation such as this one might easily arise.

The Independent (see here) reported about the unprofessional response a SIA crew on the Calcutta bound flight had for the passengers.

… Apparently, the flight could not depart due to an issue with the air-conditioner and an SIA air stewardess allegedly admitted that the aircraft hasn’t been in use for a long time and so the airconditioning was not working.”

Passengers, who were already disgruntled as they were delayed by a bus carrying them to the plane, allegedly felt like prisoners in the plane as they were told to stay put and keep their seatbelts on for hours before the plane took off.

Chandni says that when passengers, who were in the dark about what was going on, tried to seek answers they were rudely shut down: When we confronted the cabin crew, they had no answers, rudely shut us up, threatened to call the cops to arrest us, and said “we are in the same situation as you are, don’t ask us, we don’t know anything”.”

Chandni added: “The airline didn’t let anybody go. We were being treated like prisoners, being asked to sit in our seats and wear our seatbelts. They told us if we were going to offload ourselves then we wouldn’t be allowed back in and they would put us on another plane which was two days later and they wouldn’t compensate us for any of it.”

The traumatic experience, along with the heat and humidity in the aircraft without ventilation, reportedly caused many passengers – including the elderly and the pregnant – to feel sick and throw up. Despite this, airline staff allegedly refused to even offer the sick passengers water. …

Tensions run high quickly, especially if a flight that would otherwise take 3:30h in total is already four hours delayed with passengers already on board. The plane apparently had a tarmac position (first time I’ve heard about that in Singapore-Changi) and passengers weren’t being served refreshments either.

On the 8th of June, I was flying back via Singapore Airlines (SQ 516) to Calcutta with my parents (both senior citizens) and younger sister from Brisbane. We had a layover in Singapore and after six hours of being in transit, we were ready to board our flight that was scheduled to take off at 9.10pm Singapore time. We were put on a bus that would take us to our aircraft. With very few seats available and all taken, the majority of us were standing. The driver started the bus, moved it by half an inch, and then got off the bus. He repeated this four times. Everytime we thought we were going to leave, he got off. It was about 30 minutes we had been trapped inside with no explanation, no reasons. My 73 year-old father and many other senior citizens and toddlers were extremely uncomfortable and physically exhausted just standing there in oblivion. Some of us frantically knocked on the door and windows and the driver of the bus shrugged from the outside as if to say "I have no idea what's going on, don't yell at me" until one lady from the ground staff (who was earlier anxiously ushering everyone onto the bus as if we were school children or an uneducated lot) came to the bus to ask us to calm down. Some of us, including me, lost our cool at her and yelled at her until she let us off the bus and wait at the terminal. 20 minutes later we were asked to board the aircraft. It was now 9.30pm. Upon boarding, we were told that the airconditioning in the aircraft was not working and it would be fixed within fifteen minutes. Every five minutes the captain kept giving us live updates on the PA system — "the engineer is on his way", "the engineer is here and it will be fixed soon", "please bear with us, the temperature will increase for ten minutes before it starts cooling". Everyone waited patiently until we realised this wasn't going to get fixed anytime soon. Half an hour had passed with zero ventilation in an aircraft full of passengers. An airhostess at some point told me the aircraft hasn't been in use for a long time and so the airconditioning was not working. A pregnant lady had gotten so sick she was getting hot flashes and no amount of water splashing helped. Two other women were profusely throwing up in the back of the plane. Everyone was sweating. It was 31 degrees in Singapore and very humid. When we confronted the cabin crew, they had no answers, rudely shut us up, threatened to call the cops to arrest us, and said "we are in the same situation as you are, don't ask us, we don't know anything". If we won't ask them then who are we supposed to ask? They were not letting us deboard the plane and they weren't being able to immediately fix the airconditioning problem and they weren't able to give us any answers. Passengers were using the safety card to fan themselves. Two doctors (a senior citizen couple who had to board the aircraft from another wing in wheelchairs) from my apartment building in Calcutta were on the same plane. When I went to them asking for help for people throwing up, I saw that the gentleman had gotten so sick he had to take off all his clothes and sit in a mere vest. Like us, they were traveling from Australia where it's anywhere between 6 and 9 degrees right now. The airline didn't let anybody go. We were being treated like prisoners, being asked to sit in our seats and wear our seatbelts. They told us if we were going to offload ourselves then we wouldn't be allowed back in and they would put us on another plane which was two days later and they wouldn't compensate us for any of it. The airline did NOTHING to make us comfortable. They refused us cold water and drinks until much later when we gathered around the pantry demanding for fizz drinks to feel better. My dad, who has a major dehydration problem, felt suffocated and claustrophobic. The pilot kept announcing that they we are about to fly "soon" but nothing happened. Three times the ground police came to our aircraft to understand the problem and did nothing about it despite people crying for help. It seemed like they were just called in to distract us. Later, when the pilot announced they were ready to go, the airconditioning had still not started. Everyone was nervous. When I raised the concern with a ground security police officer, he told me that I shouldn't be on this plane and that I should immediately get off. People were concerned that what was a "minor problem" took THREE HOURS to fix and very few had confidence we would land safely. In a situation like this, we expected the cabin crew to help us understand the problem and reassure us that it was fixed and safe to fly. As someone generally very afraid and anxious of flying, I raised the safety concern with a male cabin crew, and a lady cabin staff (also the head) overheard as he was explaining to me what had happened, and nastily asked him to ignore everything I was asking or saying. When I told her how can you ask your staff to ignore a passenger, her response was that she didn't have time for this! Our plane took off at around midnight-12.30am Singapore time. We were supposed to reach Calcutta at 10.30pm Calcutta time and we landed at 2am. We were on that plan for three hours with zero ventilation in super humid weather, with no way to get out, with a bunch of extremely rude cabin crew, and absolutely nobody helping to make the situation better. This was a traumatic experience not only for me and my senior citizen parents but for everyone on that plane. I strongly believe that this outright racist and dehumanising behaviour was meted out to us because we are Indians and the superiority complex was beyond evident. Singapore Airlines took no responsibility and the captain issued a basic verbal apology over the PA system. To some passengers they handed out universal adapters (!!??!!) as a token of I’m not sure what. We take premium airlines because we have faith in their services and that our journey will be nothing less than comfortable. Singapore Airlines went out of its way to make the experience horrifying for us. They should not have let us board the plane in the first place if they knew there was a problem, which they evidently did when our bus was delayed and we were thrown back into the terminal. I wonder if they would have behaved the same way with passengers in an aircraft flying to New York or London. Well, you know the answer.A passenger on the aircraft mentioned that if they delay boarding of passengers, the airline is charged a heavy penalty and that is why we were forced into the sauna of a plane! Is this true? To people reading this and those with knowledge about this, I want to know if and how I can take this up legally and whether I can claim a full reimbursement?Appreciate any and all kind of help and support. Please share widely. Thank you!

Posted by Chandni Doulatramani on Tuesday, June 12, 2018

This video reflects part of the frustration going on during the delay on this Singapore Airlines flight.

As far as the information goes that the next flight wouldn’t be until two days later and the airline wouldn’t provide any compensation I’d say that’s a typical tactic (LIE) from airline employees who want to shut up a complaining passenger. I wouldn’t react to that and like have gotten off the plane or demanded to be transported back to the terminal much earlier than that (done so multiple times in the past).

In the U.S. the Department of Transportation has so called Tarmac Rules which give guidelines to airlines how to accommodate passengers in cases of a ground delay.

– For flights departing from a U.S. airport, airlines are required to begin to move the airplane to a location where passengers can safely get off before 3 hours for domestic flights and 4 hours for international flights.

– Passengers should be aware that if they choose to get off the airplane during a tarmac delay, airlines are not required to let them back on the airplane. The flight may take off without them and passengers may be responsible for finding another flight.

– During a tarmac delay, airlines must provide you with a snack, such as a granola bar, and drinking water no later than two hours after the aircraft leaves the gate (in the case of a departure) or touches down (in the case of an arrival). …

Since this was an international flight the four hours wouldn’t have been exceeded yet but the lack of a snack and refreshment is appalling in this case. Anyway this is Singapore and not the U.S. so above rules don’t apply either way.

As far as threats to call the police and possible arrests go this is a common issue with airline employees on a power trip. I had one such situation at San Francisco Airport a few years ago and actually ended up calling the airport police myself, then filed a police report against the employee based on her behavior of trying to use the threat of law enforcement to intimidate a customer without grounds. Let’s just say her day didn’t end very well (she was led away from the gate by her manager and the cops to a back office).


The behavior of Singapore Airlines staff was unprofessional here and the airline should apologize plus issue compensation to the passengers on this flight. Usually SIA crew is held to a higher standard but after a few hours of delay I guess they were frustrated as well which is no reason to actually engage in this conduct though.

These days there is always a cellphone camera rolling somewhere that eventually provides for some ugly pictures and in some cases that’s a big disadvantage for at least one party involved (United Airlines case with the assaulted doctor for example).

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