Saturday, June 22, 2024

Singapore Airlines offers compensation to injured passengers of turbulence-hit flight

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Singapore Airlines has offered compensation to all passengers who were injured after a flight to London suffered extreme air turbulence last month.

The airline sent emails offering $10,000 (£7,800) each to passengers who sustained minor injuries. It said it was open to discussing further compensation for those who suffered more serious injuries.

The SQ321 flight from Bangkok to London suffered severe turbulence over Myanmar, causing it to instantly plunge 178ft.

A 73-year-old British passenger died during the incident, possibly from a heart attack, and the flight made an emergency landing.

The interior of Singapore Airlines flight SQ321 is pictured after an emergency landing at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport, Thailand, 21 May 2024
The interior of Singapore Airlines flight SQ321 is pictured after an emergency landing at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport, Thailand, 21 May 2024 (REUTERS)
The interior of Singapore Airlines flight SQ321 is pictured after an emergency landing at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport, in Bangkok, Thailand 21 May 2024 in this handout image
The interior of Singapore Airlines flight SQ321 is pictured after an emergency landing at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport, in Bangkok, Thailand 21 May 2024 in this handout image (Reuters)

Of the 229 passengers and crew members on board, 104 people suffered injuries, mainly from being thrown from their seats.

While most received minor injuries and resumed their travels, about 20 were treated in intensive care units in Bangkok hospitals.

Following the incident, the airline announced a full ticket refund for all passengers, even those who were not injured. It also said they would receive delay compensation in keeping with European Union or UK regulations.

An Australian passenger injured on a Singapore Airlines flight battered by severe turbulence talks to reporters at Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital in Bangkok
An Australian passenger injured on a Singapore Airlines flight battered by severe turbulence talks to reporters at Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital in Bangkok (AP)

“For those who sustained more serious injuries from the incident, we have invited them to discuss a compensation offer to meet each of their specific circumstances when they feel well and ready to do so,” the airline said.

“Passengers medically assessed as having sustained serious injuries, requiring long-term medical care, and requesting financial assistance are offered an advance payment of $25,000 to address their immediate needs. This will be part of the final compensation that these passengers will receive.”

British man killed in severe turbulence named as Geoffrey Kitchen
British man killed in severe turbulence named as Geoffrey Kitchen (Facebook)

A preliminary investigation into the 20 May incident by Singapore’s Transport Ministry said the aircraft went through huge swings in gravitational force in less than five seconds, likely causing injuries to people who weren’t buckled in.

The jet dropped 178ft in less than a second, which “likely resulted in the occupants who were not belted up to become airborne” before falling back down.

It remains unclear what caused the turbulence. Turbulence is mostly associated with heavy storms, but it can occur in seemingly clear weather as well. In fact, the so-called clear air turbulence is the most dangerous.

Such turbulence can occur in wispy cirrus clouds or even in clear air near thunderstorms when differences in temperature and pressure create powerful currents of fast-moving air.

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