A video of a heated argument between an IndiGo flight attendant and a passenger has gone viral on social media.
The mid-air row, which took place on an IndiGo flight from Istanbul Airport (IST) to Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL) on December 16, 2022, seemed to be about the passenger’s dissatisfaction with his in-flight meal.
Based on the video, the flight attendant seemed fed up with the passenger’s behavior, as she accused him of making her colleagues cry.
Towards the end of the row, the passenger can be heard telling the flight attendant, “You are a servant of the plane”, to which she says, “I am an employee. I am not your servant.”
The flight attendant at one point can also be heard telling the passenger, “Your boarding pass says sandwich.”
Codeshare flight with Turkish Airlines
IndiGo later issued a statement seen by local media that states the passenger was booked on a Turkish Airlines codeshare ticket.
“We are aware of the incident that took place on flight 6E 12 from Istanbul to Delhi on December 16, 2022. The issue was related to meals chosen by certain passengers traveling via a codeshare connection. IndiGo is cognizant of the needs of its customers and it is our constant endeavor to provide a courteous and hassle-free experience to our customers. We are looking into the incident and would like to assure that customers’ comfort has always been our top priority.”
The downside of codeshare flights
Codeshare agreements between airlines normally make things more convenient and allow passengers more options in terms of routes. However, it can get tricky when full-service airlines such as Turkish Airlines codeshare with low-cost carriers like IndiGo.
For instance, when a passenger books and purchases a Turkish Airlines ticket that is codeshare with IndiGo, it means the ticket (and flight number in most cases) is Turkish Airlines, but the actual aircraft that will fly that segment is IndiGo.
While a passenger might be aware that a flight segment is a codeshare flight, it is not surprising to be “let down” when one books a full-service airline and then eventually boards a low-cost carrier.
What may have happened
It has not been confirmed, but from the pieces of information above, it appears that the passenger may have been expecting a meal other than a sandwich, especially if he booked a special meal with Turkish Airlines.
Travel website View From the Wing reports that IndiGo does not have ovens in their aircraft, so it is very likely that the passenger was dismayed to have received a sandwich rather than a hot meal.
Who was at fault?
Calling flight attendants ‘servants’ is atrocious and the flight attendant reaching boiling point can be understood.
Ultimately, it seems that this is an effect of the codeshare system. All this could have been prevented if a) airlines set customer expectations when they are booked on a full-service airline and will board a low-cost carrier, or b) the full-service carrier ensures that special requests are followed through.
Airlines often take pride in “seamless connections” that codeshare partnerships offer, but they also have to make sure that it is also a seamless experience for passengers and both airlines’ crews.