New Delhi: BJP MP Pragya Thakur can be ‘difficult’ when she wants to be. So, it was not surprising when Pragya, who uses a wheelchair, refused to oblige when she was asked by the SpiceJet crew to move to a non-emergency row.
The emergency row seat is allotted only to able-bodied passengers; even obese passengers are sometimes excluded as they can be an impediment in case other passengers have to use the emergency exit, in case of a contingency.
For the record, the MP had booked seat 1A but was given a seat in row 2 when she turned up in a personal wheelchair.
It is understood that some restless passengers requested Thakur to change her seat which is not allocated to passengers on wheelchairs and when she refused, they requested the crew to offload her, according to the airline's spokesperson.
Ultimately, the BJP MP from Bhopal acquiesced and moved to the seat in the non-emergency row.
A source said the flight got delayed by approximately 45 minutes due to this confusion. Later, Pragya lodged a complaint with the Bhopal airport director against SpiceJet for not allowing her to occupy seat 1A which she had pre-booked.
When reporters got in touch with her at Bhopal airport on Saturday night, she alleged the airline staff "did not behave properly".
"They did not give me the pre-booked seat. I asked them to show the rules. I called the director and lodged a complaint with him," she said. Airport director Anil Vikram confirmed he had received a complaint and would examine it on Monday.
The SpiceJet spokesperson said, "The Delhi-Bhopal flight is operated by Bombardier Q400 aircraft (78-seater). On this aircraft, the first row is the emergency row seat and is not allocated to passengers on wheelchairs.
"As the BJP MP had come with her own wheelchair and had not booked through the airline, the staff wasn't aware that she was a wheelchair passenger.
She asked for the safety instruction document wherein the exit door policy is mentioned and the same was shown to her to provide clarity, according to the budget carrier's spokesperson. Safety of passengers is paramount at SpiceJet, the spokesperson added.