A family claims that they were told to deplane from a Scoot Airline flight prior to departure because their 5-year-old daughter who has multiple sclerosis was unable to sit unassisted.
Divya George says that she, her husband and five-year-old daughter were ordered off of a Scoot Airlines flight from Singapore Changi Airport (SIN) to Phuket International Airport (HKT) because their child who has multiple sclerosis (MS) was unable to sit in her seat unassisted. According to the family, the captain approached them before takeoff to tell them that the child must sit in her own seat or the family would be kicked off the flight.
Divya George says she tried to make it clear that because of her daughter’s medical condition, the child must be held during takeoff or risk injury. She explained that in the past, cabin crew members had provided her with an infant belt for just this purpose.
The captain was apparently unmoved by the family’s pleas and ordered them to deplane. The George family, however, refused to depart and continued to argue their case for nearly an hour while the plane sat on the ground. Cellphone video of the surprisingly cordial debate was obtained by The Times of India.
“Anyone who is sick or paralyzed or cannot take care of themselves cannot fly on Singapore Airline, is that correct?” the girl’s father can be heard in the footage asking the pilot. “This is what you are saying?”
Singapore Airlines, which owns Scoot, has so far refused to comment publicly on the incident, instead telling reporters that the episode “did not happen on a flight operated by Singapore Airlines.”
According to local media accounts, the parents eventually relented and agreed to place the child in a seat between them. The family still insists, however, that this was far from the best option where their daughter’s safety is concerned.
“During the takeoff, my husband and I held on to our daughter from either sides, so that she won’t fall off,” the five-year-old’s mother told The News Minute. “Soon after the takeoff, I took her in my lap.”
Divya George says she travels frequently flies between SIN and her native India with her daughter, but has never experienced a situation like this previously. She says that the rules governing how special needs passengers are treated should be clearly stated and better understood by airline employees.
“I want to take it up with the airlines, if it is in their policy to not fly with a special needs child, I want to know about it,” she told the news site. “When no other airlines have a problem with this, why only this one?”