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Singapore Airlines Business Class Passenger Wins $2,400 in Compensation For Broken Seat That Wouldn’t Recline

Singapore Airlines Business Class Passenger Wins $2,400 in Compensation For Broken Seat That Wouldn’t Recline

a seat in a plane

An Indian couple have successfully sued Singapore Airlines for the equivalent of $2,400 in compensation after their Business Class seats on a four-hour flight from Hyderabad to Singapore failed to automatically recline.

Despite the fact that the cabin crew regularly checked on the couple and offered to use a manual override to recline their seats into a fully-flat position, the passengers told an Indian court that they felt like they were treated like Economy Class passengers and were unable to get any rest during the flight.

Ravi Gupta, a local Director General of Police in Telangana was travelling with his wife to Perth in Western Australia with a connection in Singapore in May 2023 when they discovered that both of their Business Class seats weren’t working properly.

Unfortunately, the flight was full, so there weren’t any alternative working Business Class seats that the couple could be moved into. Instead, Singapore Airlines says its crew offered to manually adjust the seats for Gupta and his wife.

Thankfully, the seat recline on the Gupta’s connecting flight to Perth was working and following their trip, Singapore Airlines offered the couple 10,000 Kris Flyer miles as way of compensation.

Gupta declined the offer and sued the airline in the Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission in Hyderabad. The court sided with the Guptas and ordered Singapore Airlines to fully refund the ticket cost of INR 48,750 each, along with 12% interest since May 2023.

The airline was also ordered to pay the Guptas INR 100,000 for “mental anguish and suffering” and an additional INR 10,000 to cover the couple’s expenses.

In a statement, Singapore apoligised to the Guptas while also offering a lengthy explanation: “SIA can confirm that while the automatic recline function on Mr and Mrs Gupta’s seats was faulty, the manual recline function was working on their flight from Hyderabad to Singapore. There were no issues on their connecting flight from Singapore to Perth.”

“The flight duration from Hyderabad to Singapore is typically around four hours. As it was a full flight, SIA staff unfortunately could not reseat the customers elsewhere in the Business Class cabin. Our crew proactively checked in on these customers regularly and offered to manually recline the seat when needed.”

Matt’s take

Modern-day Business Class seats use a complex system of electrical mechanisms to adjust them from upright to fully flat and a variety of other seating positions depending on passenger preference.

Unfortunately, the complex nature of these mechanisms means that technical issues do occur from time to time, no matter how hard airlines work to keep the seats working as they should.

In most cases, there’s a manual override that allows cabin crew to adjust the seat even when the powered system has failed, although, on rare occasions, even the manual override might not work.

Unfortunately, technical issues with electrically powered Business Class are on the increase worldwide, and this has been mainly attributed to ongoing supply chain issues that have delayed the delivery of replacement parts. Aircraft spending long periods of the pandemic in storage have also contributed to the issues.

View Comments (2)
  • Good. They purchased a product / service that was not provided and they appear to have been reasonably compensated. It shouldn’t take a lawsuit to force a company to do the right thing.

  • Seems excessive. A refund of ticket price is more than enough given the airline offered reasonable assistance to overcome the seat issue. Greedy lawsuits do nothing more than punish every other passenger with higher ticket prices to cover these frivolous lawsuits.

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