Air India denies bedbugs on their planes

Last week, we witnessed a couple of cases of passengers getting bitten by bedbugs on Air India’s Newark to Mumbai flights. We wrote about one, where two kids were bitten by the pest, and subsequently, there was another incident reported. Everyone put out pictures as well of Air India Bed Bugs.

Now, another carrier would perhaps take this as a health issue, and get to work. They’d apologise as well. Not Air India.

Late Thursday evening, Air India has issued a denial that these bed bugs ever boarded their plane.

The airline said,

Air India affirms that no bedbugs were found after thorough checking of seats, laundry facilities & fumigation of aircrafts following bugbite complaints in some flights.

These unfortunate reports are the first of its kind in our legacy of flying generations of satisfied passengers.

What beats this is, however, the way Air India is treating this case. While service recovery is the norm on international carriers (I’ve been thrown 5 figure miles at for small things such as shower not working on the aircraft), Air India took a vastly different approach. They did not offer to pick the tab on the medical expenses or anything. The only thing they went for is, that the customer could cancel the tickets without a penalty.

Clearly, this is disgusting to a whole different level. I continue to hope that one of or both these passengers take the airline to task and bring their lies out. First, it is not okay to have planes that are broken, second, it is not alright to have infested aircraft, and third, it is totally not alright to have to lie as if this incident never happened.

Bottomline for you guys, avoid the Air India 777s! Perhaps the Cheapest is not the best in this case. What do you guys think about the incident and Air India’s handling of the incident?

Comments

  1. The arrogance is correct. Where AI failed in this response, is that they should have mentioned their protocols, and highlighted how bed bugs reach aircraft, which is through the passengers. Bed bugs are resurgent due to the increased amount of travel. Its a problem for airlines and hotels together. To castigate AI for having bed bugs is wrong, as one never knows when they landed up on the plane. The bugs hypothetically could have been brought in by a pax on the previous flight, leaving next to no time for fumigation.

  2. @Aman+1. The limited number of times I have flown AI, domestic or international, in business, I have always seen almost 100% occupancy. While bunch of these might be staff or bureaucrats, I have also come across fair number of corporates. Seems a lot of firms need to check business class box for employees above a certain level, and AI low fares help them.

  3. The sad thing is that the majority of passengers on Air India are incredibly price conscious and Air India knows this!! All AI have to do is to keep fares competitive and I’m sure they will have packed flights…irrespective of bedbugs

    • @Arun, I think Air India does not have the product to compete with the others in the market, and hence they keep their pricing low. Not the other way around where they keep the price low to fill seats. Pricing is all they have. No pressure to show a profit you see.

  4. Its best to avoid Air India period. Apart from the obvious lack of accountability what really stinks is the absolute lack of empathy for the ordeal the passengers had to suffer. If this callous attitude permeates to safety issues then there could be grave consequences. Its so unfortunate that some of the younger crew members who seem really enthusiastic are being let down by this mercenary arrogance that is quinessentially “sarkari.”

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