Forced to separate from kids, family recounts harrowing experience with Air Asia staff
Families travelling by air tend to want to take fond memories of a courteous crew and pleasant flight with them. However, the Mallik family from Bangalore had a truly harrowing experience when the staff of Air Asia airlines, on the pretext of passengers boarding the flight on time and the airlines' so-called "on-time-performance", separated the parents from their seven and 12-year-old kids.
The incident took place on Saturday morning at the Bengaluru airport when the Mallik family was to take Air Asia flight i5 2392 to Bagdogra.
The couple and their two kids completed their security checks and were sitting in front of the boarding gate mentioned on the boarding passes.
As usual, the gates were changed and since Bengaluru airport is a silent one, the change was not announced.
"We did not know when the gates were changed and neither did we get any message from the airline. At 9:51, just 10 minutes before scheduled departure, we got a call from Air Asia. The woman on the other side in a matter of fact tone warned us that we will be left behind if we do not show up immediately," said Ravi Shanker Mallik.
After this the family rushed all the way from gate number 14 to gate number 1. Huffing and puffing the family managed to reach the gate but the wife - Beena Menon had to stop at the rest room.
This is where the drama and sheer inconsideration of Air Asia's ground staff left onlookers shocked.
The staff told Ravi that his kids and he should board the flight and Beena would be flown to Bagdogra by a separate flight. This happened even as Ravi and his kids were asked to go through the gates. The children were ushered on to the aerobridge.
Ravi, not wanting to leave his wife behind, asked them to wait for her. The staff in a huff tore Ravi and Beena's boarding passes even after the kids crossed the boarding gate, Ravi claimed.
"I have never felt so humiliated and embarrassed in my life. My wife and I had to beg Air Asia staff to let us meet our little kids. My wife begged and cried but they didn't listen to us," said Ravi Shanker Mallik.
"My seven-year-old boy and 12-year-old girl were made to stand near the door of the aircraft. They did not get on the plane as their boarding passes were with us. Finally, they were brought back to us from some other gate," Ravi said.
"I could see them (children) they were crying. None of the staff even offered to help my kids with their hand baggage. Everyone inside the airport was looking at us but no one came forward to help. My kids are so traumatised by this experience," Ravi added getting emotional.
The callous attitude did not just stop here. The Air Asia staff then offloaded their luggage from the belly of the aircraft which delayed departure of the flight by another 15 minutes. "The aircraft finally took off after 10:16 am," says Ravi.
"Instead of putting us through such a harrowing experience if they had simply allowed my wife to board, the aircraft would have in fact left earlier," said Ravi.
An Air Asia spokesperson refused to give India Today any statement saying the matter was a non-issue for them and the airline had adhered to all standard procedures. She denied the allegations made by the passenger.
Back in November 2017, ground staff of Indigo Airlines had manhandled a passenger near the tarmac - a security area that falls on the airside, and prevented him from boarding the bus which would have taken him to the aircraft.