In a video that went viral on social media, a woman was seen getting a panic attack and lying on the floor at the Delhi Airport, after Air India staff members allegedly denied her request to board a flight, claiming that she had arrived late.
The woman, who is said to be a patient of heart and diabetes, was supposed to board a flight from the Indira Gandhi International Airport on 5 May. The video shows the woman lying on the floor near the boarding kiosk, while the Air India staff present there look away. The woman's son can be heard asking for water and a doctor, while the airline staff appear to be paying no heed.
The airline claimed that three people had arrived after the boarding gate was closed, despite repeated calls from the staff to report before closure.
The video "is conveying a misleading image of Air India being apathetic towards a passenger," the airline, which was recently transferred to the Tata Group from the Indian government, said in a press release. It maintained that the Air India staff had immediately called for medical assistance to help the woman.
'My Aunt Is Diabetic, Could Not Move Quickly'
The video was shared on Instagram by Vipul Bhimani, who was scheduled to board the Air India flight along with his cousin and aunt, who got a panic attack. He claimed in the post that there were some technical issues at the security check-in point.
"Additionally, we had a heart and diabetic lady patient with us. Knowing the situation, we already communicated (with) Air-India staff to help us in check-in due to technical issues going on at the check-in point. They strictly denied us any assistance by saying the security check-in issue is none of our business," he added in the post.
Bhimani further said that he had informed the Air India staff that they had cleared the check-in and were moving towards the departure gate, but would be late by five minutes as there was a heart and diabetic patient with them who could not move quickly.
"My cousin reached the boarding gate within two minutes and I reached after him with my aunt," he further said, adding, "They literally closed gates for us along with other passengers like us even after we intimated them (the plane was to fly after 30 minutes)."
After this, he claimed that his aunt had a panic attack out of anxiety and fainted on the spot.
"We asked for a medical emergency but instead of that a staff (member) called the security and asked them to leave us at the exit gate," Bhimani said.
Air India's Response
Air India, in an official statement released following censure on social media over the incident, said that the three passengers had reported after the boarding gate was shut.
"One of them was seen lying on the floor near the boarding gate. A doctor and CISF personnel was called by our staff immediately to help her, but the passenger felt better and declined any medical or wheelchair assistance after the doctor had reached the spot," it said.
The official statement asserted that while passenger safety and comfort were the airline's first priority, they had to abide by strictures laid down by regulatory authorities with regard to flight operations.
Air India also said that the airline could not delay the flight for these three passengers, especially when all the other passengers had boarded on time.