• Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

Singapore Airlines offers at least $10K to cover turbulence injuries

Singapore Airlines said Monday that it is offering between $10,000 and $25,000 in compensation to passengers who were injured on a flight from London to Singapore that hit severe turbulence in May.

Singapore Airlines Flight 321 was traveling over Myanmar’s Irrawaddy Basin when the plane plummeted about 178 feet in 4.6 seconds, creating 1.5 G-forces and throwing passengers and crew to the ceiling, according to a Transport Safety Investigation Bureau of Singapore (TSIB) preliminary report.

One 73-year-old passenger died of a suspected heart attack. According to a hospital in Bangkok, where the plane made an emergency landing, 22 people were in intensive care with spine or spinal cord injuries, and another six had brain and skull injuries. There were 211 passengers and 18 crew members onboard.

An Australian passenger, Kerry Jordan, told an Adelaide newspaper that she was paralyzed as a result of her injuries.

Video shows the cabin of a Singapore Airlines flight that encountered severe turbulence on May 21, killing one British passenger. (Video: Viral Press via AP)

In a statement posted to Facebook, Singapore Airlines said passengers with severe injuries were offered an advance payment of $25,000 and invited to “discuss a compensation offer to meet each of their specific circumstances” directly with the airline. The $25,000 would be considered part of the “final compensation” they receive.

Passengers with “minor injuries” were offered $10,000, Singapore Airlines said. It did not specify what it views as minor.

The airline said it provided all passengers on Flight 321 with $739 (1,000 Singapore dollars) to meet immediate expenses upon leaving Bangkok, and every passenger on the flight will get a full refund if they have not already.

Passengers who are eligible could receive European trip delay compensation worth more than $600.

“We are very sorry for the traumatic experience that everyone onboard SQ321 went through,” Goh Choon Phong, the CEO of Singapore Airlines, said in a video message shortly after the incident. “Our priority is to render all possible assistance to all passengers and crew members.”

Paul Hudson, the president of the nonprofit FlyersRights, said in a statement he believes this is an attempt by the airline to avoid any litigation.

“This offer accordingly can be viewed as a first offer and should in our view not be accepted unless it does not require a waiver of additional liability,” Hudson said.

Singapore Airlines would not disclose to The Washington Post whether its offers were contingent on waiving future litigation. “Details of the compensation offers will be discussed directly with the affected passengers,” the airline said in a statement.

An international agreement, the Montreal Convention, sets the maximum compensation in the case of injury or death onboard an international flight at about $170,000. An airline does not admit fault when making payments up to that amount. Travelers can sue for additional damages but must prove that the airline was negligent.

Ladd Sanger, a managing partner at the Texas law firm Slack Davis Sanger who has worked on multiple airline incident cases, said the compensation for uninjured passengers was “pretty good.”

He estimated that the offer was worth several thousand dollars to uninjured travelers — including refunds for airfare and any compensation for delays — and significantly more to those who were injured. For passengers who did not suffer injuries, Sanger said the compensation alone was probably more than what they could expect from a lawsuit after legal fees.

“In general, that’s not a bad offer,” said Sanger, comparing it with those made by U.S. carriers previously. Sanger did recommend that Singapore Airlines passengers who were seriously injured seek legal support.

Alaska Airlines offered passengers onboard Flight 1282 $1,500 in compensation, as well as mental health services, after a door plug broke off the Boeing 737 Max 9 plane shortly after takeoff from Portland, Ore., in January.

Several lawsuits have been filed against Alaska and Boeing in the Flight 1282 case.

Some passengers aboard Singapore Airlines Flight 321 have hired the Australian firm Carter Capner Law to investigate possible negligence on the part of the airline.

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By admin