A day after an IAS officer AP Pathak alleged racism onboard a British Airways flight in a letter to aviation minister Suresh Prabhu, the airline has refuted the charge saying that Pathak had not fastened his seat belt the for take-off despite several requests and therefore the aircraft returned to the terminal. The airline asserted that it’s a legal requirement for passengers to have their seatbelt fastened for take-off. 

“It is a legal requirement for all airlines that passengers are seated and have their seatbelt fastened for take-off. The customer did not respond to several requests from our cabin crew to ensure their child was seated and had their seat belt fastened for take-off. The aircraft, therefore, had to return to the terminal stand where the customers were offloaded so that the flight could continue. Our priority is always the safety and well-being of all our customers,” British Airways said in a statement.

Meanwhile, after the airline drew flak on social media for the incident, an investigation into the matter has been initiated by the carrier.

The alleged incident took place on July 23, when Pathak along with his family was travelling from London to Berlin on a British Airways flight.

Once Pathak’s family boarded the plane and found their seat, Pathak’s wife fastened the seatbelt for their 3-year-old child. But the child started crying. The wife then brought him to her seat and tried to pacify. But by that time the plane had started moving and a crew member scolded the 3-year-old and asked him to return to his seat.

The IAS officer further said that when the child would not stop crying the crew member came to their seats and said, “You bloody keep quiet or you will be thrown out of the window and offloaded from the plane.”

Pathak, in his letter, revealed that he pleaded the crew with his hands folded but they were not ready to listen. Another Indian passenger, who tried to intervene, was threatened with the same treatment, the letter revealed.

Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu asked Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to obtain a detailed report from British Airways regarding the issue.

Earlier, the airline had said,”We take such claims like this extremely seriously and do not tolerate discrimination of any kind. We have started a full investigation and are in direct contact with the customer.”