A Melbourne mum says she endured a “flight from hell” after being booted off a grounded Jetstar plane and put in a police wagon over a heated exchange with the captain.
Nikki Mitropoulos had been holidaying in Thailand with her son and friend before she underwent ‘tummy tuck’ surgery in Bangkok, A Current Affair reported. Still in pain and recovering from the cosmetic procedure, she boarded the Jetstar flight on Saturday expecting a nine-hour trip home.
But things took a turn for the worse when JQ30 was forced to make an emergency landing in Alice Springs after a passenger suffered a suspected stroke. Still on the tarmac, the 320 passengers were then told that the Dreamliner had an electrical fault which meant a second plane would need to be flown in.
Seven hours later, everyone was still stuck on board.
“The air conditioning was playing up. There was no food,” Ms Mitropoulos told A Current Affair. “I said, is there any way I can speak to the captain? I said I just want to talk. I’m not a troublemaker.”
But during her conversation with the pilot, the mother of one said the captain spoke abruptly.
“He goes, ‘nope, I’m done, I’m going to make an example out of you, you’re getting arrested’,” she said.
While admitting she may have “pushed the questioning”, Ms Mitropoulos claimed she has anxiety and was ”suffering from a panic attack”.
Women to be kept in 'a cell'
Officers were called on board the Jetstar flight and placed Ms Mitropoulos and her friend Michelle in the back of a police wagon.
The mother says they were told they were going to be kept in a watch room. But once they got to Alice Springs police station, the sergeant informed them that they’d been “cleared”.
In a statement to Yahoo News Australia, Jetstar says the “passenger was removed from the flight after repeatedly failing to follow instruction and being abusive towards our crew”.
"While we appreciate this was a lengthy and frustrating delay for everyone involved, safety is our first priority and we have zero tolerance for disruptive behaviour,” a spokesperson for the airline said.
Two days later, still feeling sick, in pain and exhausted, Ms Mitropoulos shared a video on Instagram account, finally on her way home.
“So we’re checking out of Alice Springs hotel after a flight from hell,” she told the camera on Monday while walking alongside her friend Michelle. “I don’t know the hell we’re going to get on a bloody flight today, I have no idea.”
“I can’t, I can’t,” Michelle said in the background. “I’m getting panic attacks thinking about getting on that plane now.”
Jestar’s ‘zero tolerance for disruptive behaviour’
In the statement to Yahoo News Australia, Jetstar said its crew is there to ensure a “safe and respectful environment for everyone”.
“We have zero tolerance for disruptive behaviour,” a spokesperson said. “Any passenger who refuses to follow instructions or who is abusive will be removed from the flight.”
Apologising to customers for the diversion to Alice Springs, the airline explained that because the airport was only for domestic travel, it needed to work with authorities to allow passengers to disembark into a specially partitioned section of the airport where they were provided with drinks and food.
The replacement aircraft landed in Melbourne just after 11pm on Monday, two days after passengers left Bangkok. Jetstar says all passengers have been offered a $200 voucher as compensation for the disruption.
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