Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary recently announced that he would like to offer standing room only on short haul flights; well it appears that the Russians might have beaten him to it.
A Tatarstan Airlines flight taking tourists from Antalya Airport in Turkey to Yekaterinburg, Russia’s fourth largest city was replaced at the last minute by a slightly smaller aircraft. The original flight had seats for 148 passengers however the alternative plane only had 142, leaving six passengers without seats.
The unfortunate passengers were given the option of standing through the whole flight with no seat belts, oxygen masks or life vests, or waiting up to seven hours for another flight. They all chose to stand for the entire five hour flight. When the plane hit turbulence they had to sit in the aisle and hope for the best.
Some passengers who complained were asked to put children on their laps; however the children on board that flight were all too big.
A Tatarstan Airlines official stated “We cannot deny this happened to our customers. But the company will not share any details until everything is clarified. Our own investigation of this accident is about to begin.”
Aviation experts are also believed to be investigating the incident which took place on 24 September but only came to light when the passengers asked for £3000 compensation each. The tour operator responsible for booking them on the flight in the first place had only offered £130 per passenger to those affected.
When Ryanair’s O’Leary came up with the idea of having a ‘standing room only’ section on some of his flights, he was ridiculed. But that is nothing new for the controversial airline boss, who has previously suggested charging passengers on his flights €1 to use the toilet, and declared that he might even remove some toilet cubicles to fit extra rows of seats in. He has also suggested introducing a ‘fat tax’ for overweight passengers, and flying with only one pilot on board then using a member of the cabin crew to fly the plane in an emergency.
It will be interesting to see what he has to say when he finds out the Russian airline has, all be it controversially, got there first.