NEW DELHI: Melbourne based Punjabi NRI, has decided to sue Air India for alleged On-Board Racial Discrimination during his flight from Melbourne to New Delhi last week. Gurpal Singh, who works as a Solicitor in Australia took the inaugural Flight of Boeing Dreamliner Service between India and Australia operated by Air India.
Singh alleges that the behavior of the hostesses and other staff members was so pathetic that the whole journey proved a nightmare to him. He even cancelled his return flight with AI and booked the same via Singapore Airlines, vowing never to fly Air India again. He is also contemplating legal action against Air India in Australia.
In an Interview given to SBS Radio, Gurpal Singh alleges that, ”I found the first hand discrimination at the hands of the staff. A request for water from an Indian and from a white person carried different meaning for the crew. When I or any other Indian would request for water – it was in paper pack cups and the white person sitting next to me was served with a bottle of Bisleri. And eventually the crew totally stopped listening to the requests“.
Singh further says, “A mother’s request for milk for her infant child had a waiting time of one-and-half hour. As much as I felt sympathy for the mother and the child, the continuous sound of a crying child can be disturbing on a long flight.
“The attitude of the airhostesses leaves a lot to be desired. They were almost throwing the out the food without any eye contact, without any questions as to what we would prefer. There was not a single smile or politeness in the way they conducted themselves. At one time, I felt imprisoned. The staff was highly disrespectful and treated the passengers as if they are transferring refugees to India free of cost and under an obligation to some UN resolution”.
“My co-passenger told the staff ‘I am hungry, I might some problems’ at which they handed out some rolls without any butter. When I asked for the same, I was told, ‘We have given it to your wife’. They presumed she was my wife as we engaged in conversations for most part of the travel! And what do we get for dinner finally? A role of bread, a small fried samosa, a black looking cutlet, pakora, few pieces of fruit! People eating the samosas were complaining of acidity. Nobody eats samosas at dinner. After dinner they even stopped serving water by which time I walked up to the pantry. My excuse me was ignored a few times. They just didn’t want to serve anymore”.
You can hear the Full Interview of Gurpal Singh below
Air India started the Service between India and Australia after a long gap of 16 years with its newly imported Boeing 787 Dreamliner Aircraft. The AI Flight follows a triangular route connecting Delhi, Melbourne and Sydney. The first flight was made on August 29.
So Far Air India has only tried to refute the claims of Racial Discrimination by its staff. In an Interview with the SBS, Air India MD Rohit Nandan says that the cases of ethnic discrimination have never happened since 1953, while he admitted that the flight was intentionally delayed as it was its maiden trip.
TOI quotes another official of Air India saying, “There may be more than what meets the eye. Gurpal has threatened to take class action to get our flights stopped. That smacks of a conspiracy to defame AI. Being the only airline that provides direct connectivity between India and Australia, AI has rattled all other airlines that have been the traditional carriers for this huge traffic”.[divide]