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Family: Captain Ordered Us Off Plane Because of Our Daughter’s Special Needs

Family: Captain Ordered Us Off Plane Because of Our Daughter’s Special Needs
Jeff Edwards

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?”


[Image: Shutterstock]

View Comments (7)


  1. LukeO9

    June 14, 2018 at 5:43 pm

    “Anyone who is sick or paralyzed or cannot take care of themselves cannot fly on Singapore Airline, is that correct?” No. They need a seat to themselves.

    “During the takeoff, my husband and I held on to our daughter from either sides, so that she won’t fall off,” Fall off what? The seat?…with a seat belt on?

  2. Transpacificflyer

    June 14, 2018 at 6:51 pm

    The airline has a point. Holding the 5 year old, even if she is below normal weight presents a safety hazard to the other passengers and to the child itself. The mother may not realize that her child with MS is more susceptible to broken bones and soft tissue injury because of the condition. A strong yank or application of pressure caused by turbulence or stopping could seriously injure the child. Nor is an infant restraint belt intended for a child under 2 years of age going to do much. If the mother is unable to retrain the child it could become a projectile in the cabin. The Scoot Captain was right to put safety first. In any case, in SE Asia, the locals are not given to political correctness when it comes to physical disabilities, so her complaint is going nowhere fast.

  3. mvoight

    June 15, 2018 at 1:11 pm

    The problem wasn’t clearly explained. Presumably the child can be restrained in the seat in some manner
    How is she normally restrained for traveling when not on an airplane?
    Airlines are not permitted to have a child of that age on the lap of another passenger during takeoff and landing.

  4. Lakeviewsteve

    June 15, 2018 at 8:12 pm

    The three posters so far must have left any compassion they have at home.

    I’m glad the airline finally let them fly. In future the family should think more about how they can improve the safety of their child while flying.

  5. alphaod

    June 17, 2018 at 9:44 am

    The captained said they had to follow the rules or get off the plain. It had nothing to do with the child’s disability.

  6. weero


    June 18, 2018 at 5:57 am

    Those poor passengers who have to sit in front of that mother who is balancing a 5 year old on her lap!

    I guess you can kiss your quiet enjoyment and your recline goodbye when you end up near those folks.

  7. WillTravel4Food


    June 19, 2018 at 5:30 am

    The captain was placed in a precarious situation that makes everybody look bad. The regulatory structure of flight ops leaves little to the imagination, even if the flight crew doesn’t always know all the rules. Simply put, if the regs say anybody over age 2 must have their own seat, then the captain must insist. Failure to do so could result in an enforcement action, and the airline would be held liable if somebody gets hurt.

    The only legitimate reason I can Think of to explain the mother’s varied experience would be the regulations of airline’s certificating authority (CAA). But in reality, the most likely is that they had crews who were more accommodating and likely violating the regs.

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