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India
26 Jul 2018

Air India in trouble after Newark-Mumbai passengers bitten by bed-bugs

Air India faces backlash after bed-bugs in flight

Nearly 10 days after several business class passengers of Air India complained of bed bugs, the Maharaja has blamed "current weather conditions" for the infestation.

This response came only after Saumya Shetty, who brought the issue into attention, visited their Nariman Point office in Mumbai to check on the status of her complaint.

The airline offered a refund after much delay, she said.

In context

Air India faces backlash after bed-bugs in flight

Saumya Shetty tweets images of bites

Shetty wasn't the only one

Complaints

Shetty wasn't the only one

The issue had gained attention worldwide, with international publications covering it, after passengers on a Newark-Mumbai Air India Flight 144 complained of bites.

His two infant girls also suffered, said Pravin Tonsekar, a passenger.

When Tonsekar tweeted to Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu about it, Air India assured the maintenance department was looking into it.

But reports said nothing had been done despite similar complaints earlier.

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At least three complaints from passengers on two flights

Two days after Tonsekar, another passenger tweeted: "My wife and three kids flex business class AI 144 from Newark to Mumbai. Now they have bed bug bites all over their body." A business-class return ticket on a non-stop Air India flight between India and US costs around Rs. 2L.

One tweets photos of the bugs

Customer care

Customer care

The post-incident experience was another hassle, Shetty said. Customer care gave her an email ID to contact, "but the mail bounced."

An agent at the Nariman Point said "I'd be given a waiver, (so) I'd not be charged for cancelling tickets," but she was refused a refund "saying I still travelled."

When finally Air India responded, there was "no mention of compensation or refund."

Air India temporarily grounds two flights

Air India

Air India temporarily grounds two flights

Air India said in a statement, "Experienced experts have carried out extensive service on the aircraft from fumigation to overhaul of the upholstery/seat-covers/carpets etc."

It added the incident was "isolated," but it had taken a "serious view."

Business Insider reported it had also temporarily grounded two aircraft.

In the latest update, Shetty says the airline has now offered to refund 75% of her fare.

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