Mangalurean sick passenger dies as Air India disallows him to board flight citing ‘overbooking’

Daijiworld Media Network - Mumbai (MS)

Mumbai, Jul 10: A 49-year-old unwell man, a native of Mangaluru, who was on his way from Mumbai to seek a doctor's appointment for the spinal cord injury, died at Mumbai airport on the morning of Tuesday, July 9 as Air India refused to issue him boarding pass citing overbooking of the flight as the reason and put him in a hotel for the overnight stay.

The unfortunate victim who died because of the apathy displayed by Air India is William Fernandes, father of two children. He was working as a nurse in Tel Aviv and was coming to the city with the only purpose of seeking medical treatment for the spinal cord injury which had begun to cause issues in his leg. His family members were waiting at the airport at Mangaluru with an ambulance to take him immediately to the hospital upon his arrival.

William Fernandes with his family

Arun Fernandes, friend and roommate of William in Tel Aviv said that William did not complain of any health-related issue when they both left from the hotel to the airport in the morning. As soon as they reached the airport, Arun went in search of a wheelchair for William. But by the time he was back to the car in which he and William arrived to the airport, William had collapsed in the car. The doctors at the Mumbai airport rushed to the car in which William had collapsed but found that William is already dead.

Post-mortem of William was conducted at the Cooper Hospital but the doctors could not arrive any clear conclusion with regards to the cause of his death. Some samples of his body are sent to the laboratory at the JJ hospital for further histopathological tests.

The family members of William Fernandes tried to register a complaint of negligence on the airline on Tuesday itself. However, they could not do so till the evening of Tuesday as they did not have some required documents. The mortal remains of William will be flown from Mumbai to Mangaluru on the morning of Wednesday, July 10.

A group of five Indian men, including the deceased William, were care takers of old and infirm people in Tel Aviv for the past 11 years. William had suffered a back injury in an accident that took place a year ago. He began to suffer with excruciating back pain since past few weeks and also lost partial mobility in his legs. The medical tests carried out on William revealed that he has suffered damage in sixth, seventh and eighth verebrae of his spinal cord, which needed a surgery to set it right. As the cost of surgery would be very high in Tel Aviv, the family members decided to have it done at Mangaluru.

As William was experiencing pain in his legs, his family arranged an ambulance in Mangaluru and was waiting outside the airport to take him to the hospital as soon as he landed in the international airport at Mangaluru.

As per the details of the whole saga, given by Arun Fernandes, roommate of William, they landed at the Mumbai airport at 7.30 am on Monday, July 8. Their connecting flight to Mangaluru by Air India was schedule at 10.25 am. They reached the counter of the airline and checked in their baggage at 8.30 am. However, they were not issued boarding passes and were asked to wait.

After sometime, the airline officials confirmed that the flight to Mangaluru is overbooked and offered Arun and William to travel to Goa by the Air India flight and then take a taxi to Mangaluru. But with the condition William was in, it was not practical. In fact, the operations of many flights were affected at the Mumbai airport on the morning of Monday between 9.12 am to 9.31 am due to heavy downpour.

In its clarification on the issue, Air India said that their records do not carry any alert by the passenger about his emergency health condition. Overbooking according to a spokesperson of the airline is a common phenomenon in order to cover up for no-shows. Only those arriving at the last moment are allowed to board the flight.

In his version, Arun Fernandes, who accompanied the deceased William, says that the fact that William was wheel-chair bound should have alerted the airline staff to board him on priority. Arun also clarified that the airline did not seek any medical documents during any point of time of checking in of baggage. Arun also negated that he and William were late to arrive at the counter. Arun said, "From Tel Aviv, we landed at 7.30 am and we were at the counter of Air India flight to Mangaluru at 8.30 am for the flight that was scheduled to leave at 10.25 am. How this can be termed as late?"

Kevin Rekhy, a family friend of William cites a clear lapse on the part of Air India in dealing with the issue. He says, "What more is required as a proof, when a passenger is on a wheelchair and pleads the airline to board him as he needs to go for a medical treatment? Both William and Arun reached the counter on time. We will ask for the footage of the CCTV. Air India has a lot to answer."


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Comment on this article

  • ABC, Atlanta

    Sat, Jul 13 2019

    Last time I flew AI or IA was 25 years ago, had very bad experience with an OK ticket in my hand, coming from the US to Chennai. No more of these bad airlines. People should boycott the government run money loosing airline that suck our tax payers money. I hope that Modi government will do something to fix the issues.

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  • M Kini, UK

    Thu, Jul 11 2019

    All my sympathies are with the deceased and his family. It is so unfortunate but as a medical professional, seen time and again this problem which seems to be related to an infection of the spine by the sounds of it. Please do not neglect back pain especially when it causes any weakness in legs, bowel or bladder problems as it may be serious. Early identification and treatment helps

    DisAgree [1] Agree [2] Reply Report Abuse

  • Rita, Germany

    Wed, Jul 10 2019

    very sad.Heartfelt sympathy to the family.when I think of AI,my pressure is going high.such a bad airline one wouldnt get soon.No wonder it is gone bankrott.Why our politicians are sleeping I cant understand .because they get served from bottom to feet.Not interested in citizens.Poor fellow.Atleast with all ticket booked to mangalore ,could have get treated in mumbai itself for present.His spinal cord was badly injured I suppose.Long sitting in flight must have worsend situation.was he not wearing any special belt to give halt to his back.?Now useless to discuss.does in Telaviv ,workers dont get any free medical treatment in such cases?He delayed too long .May his soul rest in peace.If family has enough time and money ,sue AI.of their negligence.But now useless to go after them because heartache and pain willcome up again and breakdown .RIP

    DisAgree [4] Agree [5] Reply Report Abuse

  • JOHN, mangalore/kuwait

    Wed, Jul 10 2019


    DisAgree [4] Agree [26] Reply Report Abuse

  • Rudolf Rodrigues, Mumbai

    Wed, Jul 10 2019

    Probably they failed to convince AI management the seriousness of his condition with relevant medical documents! Then they would have solid grounds to do AI!!

    RIP William!

    DisAgree [12] Agree [6] Reply Report Abuse

  • Alwyn, Canada

    Wed, Jul 10 2019

    RIP. Few years ago I was traveling with my wife from Toronto Mumbai managalore on emergency to see my father in law. Similar thing happened to us by AI and they put us in hotel for a overnight stay. Unfortunately this is sad and after explaining to AI staff they were so rude and blaming us for no reasons. We had a confirmed ticket and for whatever reasons they did not allow us to board reasons was seats are not available. It is serious issue and someone has to deal with strong hands. Emergency is emergency and who can explain to these idiots what emergency means.

    DisAgree [3] Agree [22] Reply Report Abuse


    Wed, Jul 10 2019

    Rest in peace William. Heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family. Total negligence by Air India staff to board a Sick person which caused this type of loss. A case needs to be filed against Air India staff very soon..

    DisAgree [2] Agree [29] Reply Report Abuse


    Wed, Jul 10 2019

    RIP.. Sad incident

    DisAgree [3] Agree [9] Reply Report Abuse

  • Judith Lewis, India

    Wed, Jul 10 2019

    A precious life is lost because of inhuman behaviour on part of government airline..
    A case needs to be filed against Air India.
    May his soul rest in eternal peace... heartfelt condolences to his bereaved family members.

    DisAgree [2] Agree [20] Reply Report Abuse

  • Jossey Saldanha, Mumbai

    Wed, Jul 10 2019

    Now we know why Air India is a Sick Airline ...

    DisAgree [4] Agree [26] Reply Report Abuse

  • Cynthia, Kirem

    Wed, Jul 10 2019

    Rest in peace Mr. William. Condolences to the bereaved family. Once the quota is over of a particular flight on a particular date and time, how agents can issue more tickets of that day? And on which seat number? Agents/offices don't come to know while issuing the tickets? Everything is computerised.. Isn't it strange? Very sad 😔

    DisAgree [3] Agree [42] Reply Report Abuse

  • Umesh Rai, Puttur

    Wed, Jul 10 2019

    Condolences to his family. It is always advisable to take online boarding specially during peak seasons. Once you have boarding pass in hand they cannot deny to board you.

    DisAgree [3] Agree [31] Reply Report Abuse

  • Prakash, Mangalore

    Wed, Jul 10 2019

    Yes, knowledge makes life lot easier..
    Rules apart, It also matters how you convince the airline staff about your emergency.

    DisAgree [4] Agree [16] Reply Report Abuse

  • Ronald D, Udupi

    Wed, Jul 10 2019

    AI staff are rood at times and forget their basic position! After closure of Jet, Air India and others are twisting the arms and squeezing the passengers. Now try to book AIE and spicejet Dubai-Mangalore, its around 70,000 Rs return flight on some days! Thats the price of Mumbai London ticket generally at times! Someone need to take initiative and at least one additional flight of Indigo or Flydubai to end the monopoly and kind of day light extortion!

    DisAgree [5] Agree [39] Reply Report Abuse

  • Dylan, Mangalore

    Wed, Jul 10 2019

    Heartfelt sympathies to the family. This is the first time in 72 years by an Airline. Very sad.

    DisAgree [14] Agree [21] Reply Report Abuse

  • Paul, mangalore

    Wed, Jul 10 2019

    Condolence to family .
    May his soul rest in peace.
    Severe action need to taken on staff
    I hope this message 8ncident reaches to PM & Aviation minister & action taken
    Nalin kateel needs to intervene

    DisAgree [3] Agree [27] Reply Report Abuse

  • Chandu, Karla

    Wed, Jul 10 2019

    Air India is being run by the government at the cost of public tax payers money only to serve the politicians and government babus and their families and self serving AI staff. They are least bothered about the general public who pay from their nose to keep the airline afloat.

    DisAgree [2] Agree [34] Reply Report Abuse

  • Augustine Daniel DSouza, Udupi Mumbai STATE OF KUWAIT.

    Wed, Jul 10 2019

    Heartfelt condolences to Late William Fernandes and his Family.
    May his Soul Rest in Peace.

    DisAgree [2] Agree [26] Reply Report Abuse

  • Anand, Mangalore

    Wed, Jul 10 2019

    After closure of Jet Airways all the airlines started money making business.... They don't lease bothered who booked ticket and when...This is one type of ACHE DIN...

    DisAgree [9] Agree [64] Reply Report Abuse

  • AJ, Mangalore

    Wed, Jul 10 2019

    RIP Mr Williams..When they have a onward confirmed ticket to mangalore, how is that possible in India that they dont allow to board. Am I missing something ?

    DisAgree [2] Agree [45] Reply Report Abuse

  • DAYANANDA BANGERA, Abu Dhabi / Katapady

    Wed, Jul 10 2019

    Travel Agent / Air India Staffs make money selling tickets, its like black market, taking extra money, and those who have confirm ticket will be effected.

    DisAgree [2] Agree [47] Reply Report Abuse

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Title : Mangalurean sick passenger dies as Air India disallows him to board flight citing ‘overbooking’


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