A mother has claimed she and her family were marched off a flight and arrested after she tried to give a complimentary business class blanket to her son in economy.
Sara Celeste Farfan Garcia made the accusation against Panamanian airline Copa Airlines after a flight from Panama City to Lima, Peru, in June.
Garcia, who claimed she was a member of the airline’s loyalty scheme, said she was booked into business class, where customers are given free blankets, but her son, along with other relatives, was sat in economy. When she went to pass a blanket to her child, Garcia said she was confronted by a flight attendant who prevented her from doing so, before “verbally assaulting and pushing her”.
Garcia made the accusations in a Facebook post, in which she said she was “extremely affected and indignant” after “abuse” from the cabin crew. Garcia said the flight attendant called the police, who came to escort the family off the flight. She also claimed the member of the cabin crew feigned injury by “limping” to suggest Garcia had hurt her.
Garcia said she is beginning a legal process for compensation from the airline for the “psychological damage that was caused to my child” by being taken from a plane to a police car before behind held in a police station.
In a statement Copa Airlines denied Ms Garcia’s account, and accusing her of being “disruptive and aggressive towards the crew member and supervisor, who fulfilled her duties correctly”.
“As a result of this situation, our crew member suffered a physical injury, later corroborated by the doctor who attended to her after landing the flight,” the airline said. “Therefore, on the same day, a legal complaint was filed against the passenger. This complaint can be found in the Sixth Peace Court of El Callao, in Lima, Peru, that has jurisdiction of this case.
Are these the world's worst airlines?
“Additionally, the incident narrated in the video about a blanket being taken away from a minor did not occur as reported. Key details of this event have been omitted by the passenger.
“Furthermore, Copa Airlines never threatened the passenger with the possibility of an arrest for having given her son a business class blanket. The police’s presence on the airplane after landing, which was captured on one video, was only due to a security procedure that was activated as a consequence of the passenger’s behaviour.
“Copa Airlines deeply regrets that a situation like this transpired on one of our aircraft and apologises to passengers on flight CM761 who witnessed the incident. Cases like this are totally uncharacteristic of our operations. To this effect, we would like to reiterate to all our passengers that they are our top priority and therefore, we will continue to focus and work to guarantee their safety and provide them with the service and attention they deserve.”