You could be easily forgiven for never having heard of the Australian pop duo The Veronica’s but the group made up of identical twin sisters Lisa and Jessica Origliasso have certainly made a name for themselves in the last week. The sisters are threatening to sue Qantas after they were thrown off a domestic flight between Sydney and Brisbane last Sunday.
Most known for their 2007 hit Untouched, the pair got in an altercation with a member of cabin crew on Qantas flight QF516 as they were stowing their bags in the overhead bins of the Boeing 737-800. It’s alleged the sisters swore at cabin crew – a claim they reject. Eventually, Australian Federal Police officers were called and removed the pair.
Qantas has declined to say much about the incident but did explain that two passengers were removed from the flight for failing to follow crew member instructions. It’s believed the flight attendant had asked one of the sisters to turn her cabin bag around in order to create more space in the overhead locker.
The sisters said they couldn’t reach the bag but the cabin crew member refused to assist – something he was perfectly entitled to do. Earlier this year the airline told crew members that there was no expectation for them to help passengers with their hand luggage – if a passenger can’t lift their own luggage (and no one else is willing to assist) then it should be gate checked.
Of course, flight attendants can help if they choose to but risk being found liable should they get injured. That means the airline wouldn’t have to pay them if they took sick leave for an injury caused by helping a passenger with luggage.
“It’s about recognising cabin crew are not superhuman and simply want to go about our workday in a safe, supportive and respectful environment,” explained Teri O’Toole, president of the Flight Attendants Association of Australia at the time.
But in a social media post, the Origliasso sisters say the details so far reported are “false and in conflict with video recorded during this event.” They’ve described the incident as “incredibly intimidating and confusing” and are now threatening legal action against the airline. Not letting last weeks events rest, the sisters have also hit out at the flight attendant, claiming he hid his name badge to avoid identification.
Last month, the Flight Attendants Association of Australia revealed that the vast majority of cabin crew in the country had been abused by passengers simply for doing their jobs. According to the union, 97.5 per cent of cabin crew had been the victim of passenger abuse and a similar number said the abuse was happening more often.
O’Toole said one of the biggest causes of in-flight disputes was the thorny issue of hand luggage.