An Air India flight from Delhi to Kolkata was delayed by 39 minutes Friday after Trinamool Congress MP Dola Sen allegedly created a ruckus on board over change of seats. Sources said the MP allegedly “shouted and screamed” at the cabin crew because she was not given the seats she had booked and paid for.
Air India sources said that since she was travelling with her mother, who was in a wheelchair, she could not be seated in the emergency exit row. While the seats next to the emergency exit offer more leg room, rules dictate that only passengers who are physically fit can sit there so they can help the crew in case of an emergency.
Sources said the airline staff requested Sen to shift her mother but she refused. Sen had booked flight tickets for herself and two others online and claimed that she had paid for the front row.
Sen had been allocated seats 11J, 11G and 11H — all in the emergency exit row.
An Air India official said, “When the passengers boarded the flight, one of them was in a wheelchair. Cabin crew requested that wheelchair-bound passenger can’t travel next to emergency exit. But Sen started screaming. The staff offered a business class seat to the wheelchair-bound person but she refused. Other passengers and the captain intervened and the flight took off, but 39 minutes late.”
Sen and the other passengers were allowed to sit in the emergency row to avoid any further delay.
An Air India official also alleged that on landing in Kolkata, Sen asked officials of the local airport to get a written statement from all passengers saying she did not delay the flight.
The Indian Express could not contact Sen as her phone was switched off.