Warning for Singapore Airlines victims

Melbourne Airport
Singapore airlines has made compensation offers to passengers who were injured when severe turbulence hit flight SQ321 last month. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw

Singapore Airlines has sent out offers of compensation to passengers who were injured when severe turbulence hit flight SQ321 last month, leaving a 73-year-old man dead and 80 people injured, including with life changing injuries.

The May 20 flight, which left London bound for Singapore, was forced to make an emergency landing in Bangkok after it hit sudden extreme turbulence while flying over Myanmar.

On Tuesday, Singapore Airlines confirmed it had sent offers of USD$10,000 (AUD$15,000) in compensation to passengers who sustained minor injuries in the horror incident, while those with more serious injuries have been invited to discuss offers to meet “their specific circumstances when they feel well and ready to do so”.

Singapore Airlines has made offers of compensation to passengers who were injured when severe turbulence hit their flight. Picture: NewsWire / Gaye Gerard.

An advance payment of USD$25,000 has been offered to address the “immediate needs” of passengers who have been medically assessed as having sustained serious injuries, requiring long-term medical care and requesting financial assistance.

“This will be part of the final compensation that these passengers will receive,” the airline confirmed in a statement on its Facebook page.

The airline said it would provide a full refund of the airfare to all passengers, and confirmed they would also receive “delay compensation” in accordance with EU or UK regulations.

“We provided all passengers with S$1,000 each to meet their immediate expenses upon departure from Bangkok,” the airline’s statement read.

International Flight Arrivals
The airline said it had sent offers of US$10,000 in compensation to passengers who sustained minor injuries in the incident. Picture: NewsWire / David Crosling.

“[Singapore Airlines] has also been covering the medical expenses of the injured passengers, and arranged for their family members and loved ones to fly up to Bangkok where requested.

“Singapore Airlines deeply apologises to all passengers for the traumatic experience on board flight SQ321 on 20 May 2024.

“We are committed to providing our full support and assistance during this time.”

While the monetary offers may be welcome news to some, an aviation and travel compensation lawyer has recommended passengers seek legal advice before signing anything with the airline.

Peter Carter, whose firm Carter Capner Law is representing some passengers who were aboard the flight, said he doubted whether there was anyone on the aircraft who didn’t suffer an injury.

“The insurer should clarify that the $10,000 offer covers all passengers including those who endured the terror of the moment but were fortunate to escape physical injury,” he alleged.

Adelaide man Keith Davis was injured on the flight, alongside his wife Kerry Jordan who obtained spinal injuries. Picture: NewsWire / Kelly Barnes.

Mr Carter recommended those with injuries be evaluated by their own medical specialists to determine how the incident might still affect them.

“Our working theory remains that this incident could have been avoided and therefore some fault lies with Singapore Airlines,” he alleged.

“Our team, which includes very experienced airline captains, believes there is evidence to suggest that the aircraft flew through the top of a thunderstorm or in close proximity to one as it passed over an area notorious for thunderstorm activity in the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone.

“I suspect Singapore Airlines knows the investigation will very soon publicly reveal exactly that, and this announcement is timed to counter some of the negative effects of that very embarrassing disclosure.”

When contacted about the allegations, a Singapore Airlines spokesperson said it was unable to comment on the views of other lawyers.

“SIA is fully cooperating with the relevant authorities in the investigation into this incident,” the spokesperson said.

It referred NewsWire to preliminary investigation findings by Singapore’s Transport Safety Investigation Bureau which said rapid changes in gravitational force and a 178ft altitude drop likely caused the injuries to passengers and crew members.