An Australian woman has sued Emirates Airlines, accusing flight attendants on a 2015 flight from Melbourne to Dubai of ignoring repeated requests to serve her water. Lina Di Falco, 54, claims that when she went to the lavatory because she was feeling dizzy, she fainted and seriously hurt her ankle. Di Falco says she has been left with chronic pain as a result of the accident that she attributes to the lack of water.
The claim has been brought at the Victoria Supreme Court where Di Falco’s lawyer claimed his client had asked cabin crew on four separate occasions for more water. Di Falco says she was only given one glass of water with her meal which came around one hour after departing Melbourne.
Representing Emirates, Barrister John Ribbands said Di Falco could have obtained water at any time from a tap that draws water from the onboard potable water supply. Di Falco told the court that she never saw the tap and had no other way of knowing that she could have got the water from another source apart from the cabin crew.
Admitting that she needs a lot of water, she said that she had, in fact, tried to take a large bottle of water onboard the flight but this was confiscated by airport security.
After the accident, cabin crew apparently supplied a one-litre bottle of water but Di Falco claims her life has been turned upside down by the incident. On returning to Australia she had surgery for a broken ankle and had to take two months off work. She claims she is left in constant pain, her marriage has broken down and she has withdrawn from friends.
“Because of the accident, I couldn’t be … the wife that he married,” Di Falco is quoted by The Guardian as telling the court. “The confidence I had for myself, it’s all gone.”
Management at the Dubai-based airline recently sent a memo to flight attendants telling them to stop ignoring call bells. The memo stated that the airline had received feedback from customers who claimed cabins were being left unattended and that call bells were either not be answered immediately or were being completely ignored.
Some cabin crew said it wasn’t always possible to answer every call bells based on their current workload and crew complement and asked for additional resources or a change in service routine to better serve customers.
Meanwhile, a disabled British TV presenter said her calls to get water from cabin crew on a 12-hour British Airways flight from London to Buenos Aires were repeatedly ignored. Sophie Morgan, who is paralysed from the chest down said she even resorted to throwing spare headphone packs in an attempt to get the attention of crew when the call bell went unanswered.
Morgan said she needed water to take medication and only managed to get help from a crew member when the cabin supervisor walked down the aisle. The 34-year old, who was flying to Argentina for the Global Disability Summit, then claimed the crew member told her to “calm down”.
British Airways says it is investigating the incident.