Jakarta – National flag carrier Garuda Indonesia has issued a formal apology for an incident in which a passenger and her family were "detained" after Garuda crew members accused her husband of insulting the airline.
Garuda's acting director Fuad Rizal has apologized in a statement for the inconveniences that the incident might have caused, saying the airline was investigating the pilot who had reportedly ordered the detention of the passenger and her family.
"Garuda Indonesia is currently investigating the pilot to determine whether they had abused their power," Fuad said in a statement issued on Monday.
"We are constantly communicating with the passenger in question to resolve the issue as amicably as possible."
The passenger, who goes by the Twitter handle @jesswjk, was flying in business class with her husband and three young children on Garuda flight GA404 to Denpasar, Bali on Saturday.
According to her account of her experience, which she posted on Twitter, her husband stood up to ask a flight attendant if he could take one of their children to the toilet during a 50-minute lull while the plane waited for the runway to clear at Ngurah Rai International Airport before it could land there.
The flight attendant did not allow him to go to the toilet for safety reasons, so her husband complied and returned to his seat, she said. After their son complained about having a stomach ache, her husband panicked and grumbled about Garuda to her, she said.
The flight eventually landed and everything seemed fine until the woman and her family got to the baggage lounge at Ngurah Rai International Airport.
She was met outside the lounge by the captain of the flight, a few flight attendants and Aviation Security (Avsec) officers. The captain promptly ordered the Avsec officers to detain her and her family, accusing her husband of insulting Garuda and claiming that he was acting on behalf of Garuda's director of operations, she wrote.
The captain walked away after she told him that she knew "Pak Chairul and Pak Chairal" – an apparent reference to business tycoon Chairul Tanjung and his brother Chairal, who is on Garuda's board of commissioners – and would call them about the incident. The ground crew were apologetic about the incident but refused to give the captain's name to her, she said.
Her tweet thread has since gone viral on social media, with scores of netizens supporting her and her family, while also bemoaning Garuda Indonesia's questionable decision-making.
She once again tweeted about the incident on Monday, claiming that the airline and online news outlet Detik had released the full names of her children.
"Dear @IndonesiaGaruda and @detikcom, I hereby object to the disclosure of my children's full names. It is worth noting that Ni Wayan Seiko's chronology is totally inaccurate as I never requested a refund whatsoever!" she wrote on her Twitter page, referring to Detik's recent coverage of the incident.
In response, Fuad said the airline had never disclosed any passenger's personal information regarding the incident to the media nor to the public.
"We are sorry about the disclosure of the passenger and her family's personal information. We assure you, [the disclosure] did not come from Garuda Indonesia," Fuad said.
The incident was the latest in a slew of blunders that have reflected poorly on the country's most prestigious airline. The airline's president director, Ari Akshara, was dismissed in December for allegedly smuggling Harley-Davidson motorcycle parts and Brompton folding bicycles. (rfa)