Tartarstan Airlines, a Russian flag carrier, had a last-minute equipment change on a flight from Antalya, Turkey to Ekaterinburg (Russia’s fourth largest city) last week. The new 737 had only 142 seats and by boarding time, 148 passengers had checked in for the flight.
Rather than seeking volunteers to take a later flight or IDBing six passengers, the airline decided to load everyone on.
The last six passengers, if they wished to return to Russia that day, were forced to stand in the back of the plane near the lavatories. There were no seatbelts, oxygen masks, or life vests for them…
Those who complained were told by the crew to put a child on their lap – but the children were far too big.
Now some standing passengers are demanding £3,000 in compensation for the ordeal (on £130 tickets–sounds like UA-style compensation!)
Air Tartarstan, which has admitted that six passengers did stand, still defends its actions:
‘All the tourists decided to fly back despite uncomfortable conditions.’
They’ve got a point…
Don’t mistake the intention of this post: it is not to bash Russia or Russian airlines. As I have stated repeatedly on the UPGRD podcast, I love Russia and Aeroflot is my favorite SkyTeam carrier. BUT, what Air Tartarstan did was inexcusable. While I don’t object to passengers choosing to get what they bargained for, no passenger who paid for a seat bargained for standing for five hours with no seatbelt (and there was some chop on the flight), life vest, or oxygen mask. Some compensation is due–maybe not £3,000, but something.