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A mother and her 4 month old daughter were allegedly offloaded from a flight travelling from Chennai to Delhi after the infant was deemed to be ‘disturbing’ the passengers.
According to a recent report in The News Minute, a Vistara flight carrying passengers from Chennai to Delhi did not depart on its scheduled timing because of an inconsolable 4 month old who was crying, which apparently created a ‘ruckus’ for other passengers. Despite trying multiple times, the parents Rahul and Lakshmi Devi couldn’t stop their 4 month old daughter from crying.
At the end, the air hostesses asked the mother to step off the plane with her 4 month old daughter. They were asked to stay in the waiting hall to board the next scheduled flight.
As a statement put out by Vistara Airlines delicately puts it, “The Vistara flight from Chennai to Delhi was scheduled for 12:00 PM and also carried the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Edappadi K Palaniswami and his staff. It is currently unknown if the removal had anything to do with the CM being onboard.”
The spokesperson also reported, “Vistara would like to confirm that a lady passenger travelling with her husband and daughter (infant) on our flight UK 838 from Chennai to Delhi on 18 January 2021 had requested to deboard the aircraft with her daughter, soon after boarding was completed. The request was made since she was concerned about her daughter’s health as she was continuously crying. Our crew and ground staff extended full support to the passengers, while ensuring all relevant protocols were followed. Safety and comfort of all our customers is our utmost priority which was highly appreciated in this case by the passenger and her family.”
Vistara Airlines has, since the publication of this article, removed the text from their statement.
While that could well be the case, this incident is also representative of how mothers and infants are viewed by people in society, seen as ‘nuisance’ by many who have no idea of the (usually by default) mother’s challenges in such a situation.
It is no hidden fact that an infant crying anywhere is not uncommon, it is their way of expressing any discomfort that they might be feeling. They cry when they’re hungry, tired or sick. Despite this being a common and established fact, people act surprised and even pretend the infant crying is the biggest inconvenience they have ever faced in their lives.
Are people ignorant towards the fact that taking care of an infant is a task in itself?
A mother already remains under tremendous amount of stress in the first few months and years of their babies. In a public place that is also cramped and crowded, the challenges increase multifold. The least people can do is be empathetic towards a mother’s plight and understand her ordeal.
Have you caught yourself or others around asking questions in such a situation, like: “Why did she bring her baby to a public place?” or “Why didn’t she leave her baby at home?”
Sometimes, ignorant questions like these are raised when an infant cries in a public setting. People who ask these questions don’t often realize that their questions don’t only come from a place of ignorance, but also immense privilege. Not every mother has an option to leave her infant behind and not every mother has someone to look after her child in her absence.
Offer support to a struggling mother, instead of guilt tripping her and making her feel bad about a situation she has no control over, and is already anxious about. Situations like these demand nothing but empathy and assurance, something all of us need to show to a mother and her baby.
Although in many circumstances like this, air hostesses help and assist mothers in consoling their babies, it doesn’t seem to be the case here. The mother being asked to step off the flight shows the helpless situation she was stuck in.
While there have been conflicting reports on whether the lady was deboarded or requested to be deboarded, the focus should stay on providing more support to travelling mothers.
Image source: shutterstock
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I recommend reading Manjiri Indurkar's Origami Aai alongside her memoir to have a fulfilling and enriching experience of telling one's story with grace.
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