Air Asia management has categorically denied that it forced one cabin crew member to apologize to a passenger by means of prostrating before her and her autistic niece.
The incident occurred on September 2 and was eventually posted on social media and went viral, sparking off dissenting comments against the woman passenger and also against a manager of the airline for allegedly forcing the crew to apologize in this fashion.
Many of the comments came from staff of Air Asia as they vented frustration on social media against the passenger as well as the manager.
The incident prompted Air Asia CEO Tony Fernandez to fly into Bangkok to personally assure the company’s Thai staff that it will continue to be fair to its employees.
Tony Fernandez, accompanied by the airline’s Thai executives, will on Friday fly to Hat Yai to personally apologize to the air crew member and her family over the unfortunate incident.
At a meeting with the Thai staff on Thursday, the CEO vowed to take responsibility for the incident and assured them that the management has always attached importance to its staff.
Tassapol Belevelle, CEO of Thai Air Asia, said the airline did not force the crew member to prostrate in front of the passenger but it was the crew member herself who offered to perform the prostration in order to end the dispute with the passenger.
The incident reportedly stemmed from the crew member approaching the passenger’s autistic daughter to offer help but her approach was mistaken by her mother to be a mocking of her daughter’s condition, prompting her to demand an apology from the crew.
It was reported in social media that even though the crew member had apologized and given a “wai”, the passenger was not satisfied and demanded that she prostrate on the floor to apologize.
In the aftermath of the incident, Mr Tassapol said the airline would adjust the in-flight protocols regarding conflict between cabin crew and passengers by referring the incidents to the customer’s relations department.