RAWALPINDI: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has begun an inquiry into a compliant regarding the treatment of a passenger by the crew on an Islamabad to Manchester flight on Nov 16.

The passenger, Yasmin Arif, was travelling with her niece Hina Ashraf Hashmi. She was allegedly denied a pre-booked extra legroom seat that had already been paid for, leading to an argument between the passengers and the crew that also delayed the flight’s departure.

Her husband, Mohammad Arif, said that Ms Arif suffers from severe back and leg pain as well as scoliosis.

He lodged a complaint regarding the incident with the Prime Minister’s Office, which led the PIA management to initiate the inquiry.

Mr Arif said in his complaint that Ms Arif and Ms Hashmi had pre-booked and paid for extra legroom seats on flight PK-701 to Manchester. He said that because of her illness, Ms Arif could not travel on anything but an extra legroom seat.

He said that even though these seats were booked and paid for, the staff at the PIA counter printed different seat numbers on the passengers’ boarding passes.

In his complaint, he added: “On the plane, pilot and the crew were extremely rude and acted disgustingly towards to the two women, telling them that they don’t care if they had reserved seats and demanded extra money if the ladies wanted to use the seats, instead the staff were shown proof from booking confirmations but still denied to allow them to sit on their booked seats.”

He claimed the crew did not call the desk to confirm the bookings and asked for payment to allow the women to take the seats.

They then delayed the flight and threatened to offload the women if they did not take the seats assigned to them, he said.

He said Ms Arif could not sit on the seat assigned to her and spent most of the flight on the armrest, facing the aisle. He said the crew also blamed her for the delayed flight, which led to criticism from other passengers as well.

He said his wife was in a lot of pain because of the lack of appropriate seating on the flight and will require medical attention in the United Kingdom.

Mr Arif said he is seeking a refund for pre-booked seats and pursuing damages for “mental as well as physical trauma”.

PIA public relations director Abdul Hafeez said an inquiry has been initiated into the complaint and strict action will be taken if it is found to be true.

“PIA will not compromise on its customers’ dignity and respect,” he said.

Published in Dawn, November 22nd, 2019