Aeroflot airlines staff allegedly threatened the group of US citizens of Asian descent, that they would be “deported” to India if they do not board the flight back to Delhi on their own.
A Russian airline forced five Indian American passengers for the flight to Delhi, India, instead of their original destination of New York because of their skin color, a racial discrimination complaint claims.
Aeroflot airlines staff allegedly threatened the group of US citizens of Asian descent, that they would be “deported” to India if they do not board the flight back to Delhi, The Independent reported.
The Americans were on a journey from Delhi to New York on 7 January, with a stopover in Moscow, Russia. According to reports, the connection with the flight to JFK International Airport was canceled because of heavy snowfall, leaving the group stranded.
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She tried to book alternative flights, but were allegedly told by Aeroflot crew that no seats were available.
The group of Indian American passengers are stranded in Russia with no visa after their flight was cancelled because of snow.
According to the complaint, the airline reportedly offered alternative connections to the United States and the other American passengers with a light skin.
The Indian-American passengers were then given a choice to go back to India” on a later flight, or “deported” to India by the russians, because they did not have transit visas, according to the complaint. According to the Russian law, the passengers could only stay in the country for 24 hours without a visa.
The American passengers called the AMERICAN embassy in Moscow, but the official at the embassy was not able to get through to Aeroflot, the complaint claims.
“Although the duty officer at the embassy repeatedly asked to speak with Aeroflot to correct the situation, Aeroflot employees refused to speak with him, instead reiterating their threat that the passengers would be deported, and that if they did not return to India, Aeroflot would be ‘worse’ for them — including by criminal deportation and heavy fines.”
One of the passengers recorded an incident involving an Aeroflot employee, that he posted on Facebook, where the employee tells the group that they will be deported “back to India.” In the video that the family is with the employee who should be “deported back to America,” because they are American citizens.
The employee storms away but later returned with a boarding pass for a flight to Delhi, The Independent reports.
The five passengers eventually boarded the India-bound flight, “afraid for their safety and the feeling that they had no other choice, after Aeroflot repeated threats,” the complaint reads. About 20 other passengers who had traveled from India were forced to return.
As soon as the family arrived in Delhi, they discovered that there is no Aeroflot flights to New York for more than a week, The Independent reported.
Four of the five passengers have thousands of dollars to book a different flight on Qatar airlines to take them to the United States. The fifth flew back with Aeroflot six days later.
Each of the five missed multiple days of school or work. In a Facebook post, wrote:
“I spent a week of work (I will not be allowed to take vacation this year) and faced with enormous mental stress. I have more than 17 years and never been harassed or treated this way.”
“We clearly fell short of our usual high standards of service on this incident, which is more than two months ago, and indeed we have contacted the passengers immediately afterwards to apologize.”
“Aeroflot behaviour is abhorrent and without any justification,” Juvaria Khan, staff attorney at Muslim Advocates, the firm representing the passengers, told The Independent. “DOT must perform a full and thorough investigation and hold Aeroflot is responsible for its discriminatory actions and ensure that there are no other travelers to endure this type of abuse.”
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Aeroflot denied any discrimanatory practicies in a statement to The Independent:
“We clearly fell short of our usual high standards of service on this incident, which is more than two months ago, and indeed we have contacted the passengers immediately afterwards to apologize. However, a thorough internal investigation determined that this was not a case of discrimination on the basis of appearance, and we do not agree with this characterization in the complaint.”
The Russian airline has previously been fined by U.s. officials for violations of US passenger protection rules.
Aeroflot does not return a request for comment.
Alexandra Deabler is a Lifestyle writer and editor for Fox News.