Bed Bugs On Air India Flight: Business-Class Passengers Recount Their 17-Hours-Long Nightmare


Image Credits: Wikimedia, Saumya Shetty/Twitter

People often choose business class over the economy to avail a number of in-flight services and benefits that come with the hefty amount that they pay. However, for some Air India business-class passengers, the in-flight services were far from being satisfactory as a number of them complained of being bitten by bed bugs in the aircraft on July 18.

Several passengers flying out of New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport to Mumbai, India narrated their horrific ordeal on social media which pointed out the sheer negligence and carelessness of the government-run airlines. Even though the flight, AI 144, which was set to travel from Mumbai to Newark the next day was temporarily grounded to fumigate the aircraft, the damage had already been done.

In the 17-hour-long journey, a number of business-class passengers complained about the biting critters after they found them in the seats and on the carpets as well. Reportedly, one passenger, Kashmira Tonsekar, who was returning from the US after a holiday checked the seats after her younger daughter complained of rashes. Even though the crew sprayed repellent upon receiving the complaint, more bugs started coming out from other seats. They were then shifted to the economy class with subpar seating conditions.

Passengers narrated experience on Twitter

Kashmira’s husband, Pravin took to Twitter where he called out Air India’s negligence and attached pictures as well.

After a couple of days of this complaint, another passenger, Saumya Shetty, who was travelling with three children posted horrific pictures on the micro-blogging site which showed her hand covered in bite marks.

Reportedly, the mother of three young children had to spend the night in the seat which was infested with bugs, and her ordeal only ended when she was given a new seat, just a couple of hours before landing. According to Mumbai Mirror, the 36-year-old stylist and event planner is on medication owing to multiple bed bug bites all over her body. Even though she tried to reach out to the Air India authorities, all efforts were in vain until she physically visited the office at Nariman Point in Mumbai to lodge a complaint and demand for a refund of the hefty ticket prices. Reportedly, she had spent $10,000 on the air tickets. According to the Indian Express, the airlines would only offer a waiver and not a complete refund of the ticket prices.

Saumya tweeted:

Air India’s response

After facing continuous flak from passengers on social media, the state-run airlines released a statement and dubbed the incident to be an “isolated” one.

“Air India is deeply concerned with a few reports of bugs causing inconvenience to its esteemed passengers. The issue has been viewed seriously, and every possible step is being taken to closely inspect and further strengthen our system at every level to ensure that such isolated incidents of passenger discomfiture do not affect our consistent performance,” the airline said in a statement, as reported by NDTV.

“Experienced experts have carried out extensive service on the aircraft from fumigation to overhaul of the upholstery/seat covers/carpets etc. to ensure that passengers keep enjoying their in-flight experience with us as always without any complaint of inconvenience.”

However, this is surely not the first incident that Air India had to deal with. In 2017, a flight from San Francisco to Delhi was delayed by nine hours as a rat was spotted on the aircraft.

The Logical Indian Take

It is quite disappointing to see our state-run airline being so negligent regarding the passengers’ health and safety. One can only imagine how horrific it would’ve been for the passengers to find bed bugs aboard an international flight for which they spent a hefty sum of money. What added to the deplorable situation is the fact that the airlines failed to talk about a refund or compensation for what it’s passengers had to go through.

The Logical Indian strongly condemns the complete carelessness and negligence on the airline’s part and hopes that such incidents don’t happen again.