Aeroflot forced five Asian-American passengers to fly to Delhi instead of New York on grounds of their skin colour.
Racial discrimination plaint filed
NEW DELHI: Aeroflot, Russia’s flag carrier, forced five Asian-American passengers to fly to Delhi instead of New York because of their skin colour, according to a racial discrimination complaint.
Aeroflot staff warned the US citizens, all of south Asian descent, they would be “deported” to India if they refused to deplane, as per a news report in The Independent.
The Americans were travelling from Delhi to the US on 7 January but were stranded during a stopover in Moscow when their connecting flight to JFK International Airport was cancelled due to heavy snow in New York.
The passengers were then told that there were no available seats on alternative flights and they would not be provided with any accommodation in Moscow.
The said passengers were also denied transit visas, meaning under Russian law they could not leave Sheremetyevo Airport or remain in the country for longer than 24 hours.
The passengers rang the US embassy in Moscow and were told “it would be illegal for Aeroflot to deport United States citizens to third countries against their will”, the complaint reads.
It adds: “Although the officer on duty 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 ‘make matters worse’ for them — including through criminal deportation and heavy fines.”
The five passengers who brought the complaint eventually boarded the flight to India, “fearing for their safety and feeling that they had no other choice after Aeroflot’s repeated threats”, says the complaint.
After arriving in Delhi, they were informed there were no Aeroflot flights to New York for more than a week. Four of the passengers involved in the complaint spent thousands of pounds booking one-way flights to Washington DC through Qatar Airways instead. The fifth, Anshul Agrawal, flew to Miami through Aeroflot six days later.
Although Aeroflot is Russia’s flag carrier, the company has previously been fined by American authorities for violating US passenger protection rules.