Published on : Thursday, July 11, 2019
An Air France plane had to deplane 26 passengers from a New Delhi to Paris flight. They were asked to “voluntarily” deplane, with the airline citing a “technical problem” that was forcing them to offload their checked-in baggage. The incident happened early Wednesday morning while the plane was at Delhi airport.
French national carrier Air France, whose 2004 merger with KLM of the Netherlands made them one of the largest airline companies in the world, has not yet provided an explanation for the removal of its passengers. It is also not yet known if those passengers were offered either compensation or alternative travel arrangements.
In a video captured by a passenger on a mobile phone, a member of the crew can be heard asking “passengers willing to leave” to contact on-board crew.
“We need to offload around 26 passengers. Those passengers who wish to volunteer and are willing to leave with their bags, please contact on-board crew,” the crew member is heard saying.
The puzzling incident attracted attention on Twitter, with one user asking Air France to identify the “technical problem”.
There remains a degree of confusion over what actually led passengers being asked to leave.
Reports suggested the flight was overbooked, which is the practice of selling more seats than are available on the flight in the expectation that some passengers will cancel their tickets.
A note on Air France’s UK website said:
“Like all major airline companies, Air France opens a greater number of seats for booking than are actually available on a flight. In practice, it lets us limit the financial loss resulting from the fact that some passengers choose not to take the flights they have reserved.”
Last year the airline was fined a total of Rs. 12 lakh by the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) for not allowing passengers holding confirmed tickets to board.
In its note, the commission said that while overbooking was a “commercially viable international practice” not allowing passengers with confirmed tickets to board amounted to deficiency of service.
Another reason for the passengers being asked to deplane could be because it was too heavy to takeoff. There is precedent for an airline to ask passengers with heavy luggage to leave.
Incidentally, way back in 2014 and 2015 Easyjet flights to Spain had to ask certain passengers to get off. However, on both occasions those who were asked to leave were offered monetary compensation and tickets on another plane.
Tags: Air France