A simple mistake can give huge grief to someone and a big problem for another. Something similar happened in this case where an anaesthesiologist received the wrong call. Dr Vinayakom, a reputed anesthesiologist based in the US received a phone call on Wednesday from Air India official who told him that his wife has expired on board a flight to Washington DC from New Delhi. It turns out the information was wrong and the 77-year-old doctor has now decided to sue the airline for making a wrong call.
Dr Vinayakom, a reputed anaesthesiologist, settled in the US, got the shock of his life on Wednesday evening when an Air India official called him and told him that his wife has expired on board a flight to Washington DC from New Delhi. The 77-year-old doctor has now decided to sue the airline, as the information was wrong.
“A person who introduced himself as the manager of Air India office at New Delhi airport gave me information that left me rattled and immobile for a few minutes at my home in Thiruvananthapuram. The gentleman told me that my wife Dr Subba Laxmi has expired on board the flight. He passed me the contact number of one Tejbir Singh Colia, whom he introduced as the AI manager in Washington DC, and asked me to make arrangements for receiving the corpse from the flight,” anaesthesiologist Dr Vinayakom, who lives in Washington DC said.
The doctor couple, who had come home for vacation, were stuck here following the lockdown and Dr Subba Laxmi had left for the US alone. “I asked the gentleman again to verify whether it is the same Dr Subba Laxmi. I even told him her date of birth. He confirmed the news again,” said Dr Vinayakom. “I managed to call the caretaker of our Washington DC home. The caretaker said my wife had telephoned her a few minutes ago, asking her to get her picked from the airport. I am surprised at the casual manner in which a wrong information about someone’s death was passed on,” he said.
Dr Vinayakom, who had taught in Georgetown University, has had several high profile patients, including former Kerala chief minister K Karunakaran when he was taken to the US for special treatment after a car accident in 1992. “I’ve decided to sue the airline heavily. The mental trauma and stress the false information gave me was beyond words,” he said.
The doctor said a woman had indeed died on board the flight and she had wrongly occupied the business class seat booked by Dr Subba Laxmi. “I presume that the AI staff had chosen to go by the contact number they got on the PNR code of the ticket. But, I fail to understand why they refused to have a relook at the passenger details even after several pleas,” he said.
Air India authorities said they would look into the complaint seriously and take appropriate steps once the flight crew is back from the US. “Right now, we don’t know what went wrong. Normally such messages from flying aircraft are communicated on the basis of the PNR code of the passenger on board. We have our sympathies for the aggrieved person; we will definitely look into the incident,” a spokesperson said.