NEW DELHI: Pragya Thakur, BJP MP from Bhopal, had an altercation with SpiceJet officials over her seating on a Delhi-Bhopal flight on Saturday, which delayed the take-off by 45 minutes.
Thakur, who was on wheelchair, booked seat 1A by paying extra for that. However, the Bombardier Q400 turboprop aircraft which was operating on this route has the front row earmarked for “emergency” seating. Passengers who cannot operate emergency exits due to any reasons are not allowed to sit on these seats and, accordingly, the airline requested Thakur to change her seat.
The flight took off 45 minutes behind schedule after Pragya Thakur finally relented and shifted to the second row.
While Upma Singh, a close aide of Thakur, blamed the airline over the episode saying that they had paid extra for the front row and that there was no bar specified against wheelchair passengers occupying the front row, the spokesman of SpiceJet defended their action pleading that Pragya Thakur had brought her own wheelchair and that they were not aware of her condition when they allocated her the front row at extra charge.
Upma Singh said: “We paid extra while booking the flight for the front row. It was not specified anywhere that a person on wheelchair cannot occupy the front row. The sadhvi (Pragya Thakur) has a health problem and needs extra legroom which the front row offers, something we book on other airlines, too, as per rules. Once she was seated on the pre-booked 1A, the crew requested her to change to some other row. She asked to show her the rules and eventually changed her seat. But the delay happened due to the airlines fault.”
A SpiceJet spokesman said the airline “had the privilege to have Pragya Thakur on board SpiceJet flight SG 2498 (Delhi-Bhopal) on December 21. She had pre-booked seat 1A and had come to the airport in her own wheelchair. The Delhi-Bhopal flight is operated by Bombardier Q400 aircraft. On this aircraft, the first row is the emergency row seat and is not allocated to passengers on wheelchairs.”
“As (the MP) had come with her own wheelchair and had not booked through the airline, the staff wasnt aware of this fact that she was a wheelchair paRead More – Source