Air India flights grounded due to bed bug infestation

A number of unhappy business class passengers made the grisly discovery

Joanna Whitehead
Tuesday 24 July 2018 15:37 BST
Bed bugs were reported on Air India flights over a period of days last week
Bed bugs were reported on Air India flights over a period of days last week

Bed bugs on board Air India planes have allegedly resulted in flights being temporarily grounded on the Mumbai-Newark (US) route.

Business class passengers flying from Newark Liberty Airport to Mumbai last week reportedly complained about the biting critters.

Kashmira Tonsekar made the grisly discovery after her younger daughter complained of a rash when travelling back to India after a family trip in the US.

According to stuff, Tonsekar had seen a bed bug on her husband’s seat before setting off, but dismissed it thinking it was simply a common insect. Tonsekar alerted cabin crew, who proceeded to spray the area with an insect repellent.

After a short while, more bugs began to emerge from the seat in question and adjacent seats, claimed Tonsekar.

Tonsekar’s husband, Pravin Tonsekar, tweeted Air India to express his grievance: “All our seats infested with bed bugs. Sir, [I] have heard of bed bugs on trains but shocked to experience on our maharaja and that too business.”

Air India responded to Tonsekar’s tweet to apologise for the incident: “Sharing the details with our maintenance team for corrective measures in this regard.”

Tonsekar was not satisfied with the response, tweeting: “Too late!!! Such a thing should not have happened in the first place. My wife and daughters had to suffer half of the journey sitting in economy seats with broken tables and inoperative TV.”

A second traveller also tweeted about a similar experience on 19 July: “My wife and three kids flex business class AI 144 from Newark to Mumbai; now they have bed bug bites all over their body; is this what we paid $10,000 for???”

Air India responded to the tweet, stating that the “safety and pax comfort is paramount for #AirIndia. Inquiry was ordered on the same day and responsibility will be fixed. We feel your pain and empathise also. We assure you that we will allow no one to jeopardise safety and comfort of pax.”

The country’s national airline, Air India – or “Maharaja” as it is known – was put up for sale by the Indian government in March this year. Despite the deadline being extended, no prospective buyers have emerged.

Interested parties would be required to take on £6bn in debt and keep all 27,000 staff employed on the same terms for a least one year, however, a factor which may deter potential purchasers.

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