Passenger: Qatar Airways mishandled assault

Qatar Airways has come under fire for mishandling an allegation of an assault on a passenger. (Reuters)
Updated 10 November 2018

Passenger: Qatar Airways mishandled assault

  • Incident happened on Doha to Hanoi flight
  • Passenger says complaint not taken seriously

LONDON: A passenger on a Qatar Airways flight has accused the airline of failing to take proper action when another passenger attacked her.
Travel blogger Julianna Barnaby was on a night flight from Doha to Hanoi on Oct. 17 when the man sitting directly behind her kicked her seat twice and hit her on the head, she said.
Her complaint was not taken seriously, neither by the cabin crew nor by the airline’s customer services department, she added.
“This was an unprovoked assault on me, and if it had happened on the ground, the police would’ve been called. But in the air, no one took appropriate action,” said Barnaby, 32, who lives in London. 
She added that the airline has downplayed the incident, referring to it as an “inconvenience.”
Barnaby said: “As soon as I reclined my seat to go to sleep, I felt two very hard kicks on the back of my seat, and then the passenger behind me reached over and hit me over the head. I turned around and said ‘don’t touch me,’ and then called for a member of the cabin crew.”
She added: “A female flight attendant … asked me if I wanted to move seats, but it was the middle of the night, I was in a window seat so I would’ve disturbed the other two people in my row, and I didn’t see why I should move. But the stewardess said there was nothing she could do as the man didn’t speak English.”
Barnaby said: “I spent the next 10 minutes explaining that I wasn’t going to let this go and they had to find a member of cabin crew who could communicate with this man and give him a verbal warning.”
She added: “Eventually, another female flight attendant came who could speak the man’s language. It seemed to me that he was denying he’d hit me. But another passenger sitting behind him then spoke up, saying he’d witnessed it all and what I said was true.”
Barnaby said the man, who she described as being in his early to mid-60s “but not frail,” had made no attempt to ask her to put her seat forward.
“I had my headphones in because I’d just finished watching a film, but there was no tap on the shoulder or any kind of discussion. I told the flight attendant who spoke the man’s language to tell him that if he touched me again, the first thing I’d be doing after we got to Hanoi was going to a Vietnamese police station,” she added.
“This was battery, but he wasn’t moved, warned or restrained. Of course it’s not the airline’s fault when a passenger behaves badly, but it is the airline’s fault if they don’t deal with it properly.”
Barnaby said the cabin attendants instead helped the man adjust his own TV screen and seat, while she spent the rest of the flight feeling “anxious and scared.”
She said she contacted Qatar Airways immediately after landing in Hanoi, and four more times thereafter.
She questioned the training given to cabin crew, adding that a customer care officer thanked for her feedback but said a review of the incident found the crew had handled it appropriately. Barnaby said the airline has declined to give her a refund.
“I’m so disappointed with Qatar Airways,” she added. “I’ve flown lots of times with them, and have two more flights coming up soon. What happened to me really raises the question of who takes responsibility for an incident in the air.”
Despite several attempts to contact Qatar Airways by email and phone, the airline did not respond to requests for comment. 

At Davos, innovative products point to a sustainable future

Updated 24 January 2020

At Davos, innovative products point to a sustainable future

  • A single tree that to bear 40 different types of apple

DAVOS: The World Economic Forum is not all about the fourth industrial revolution or the rise of AI.

You can also find all manner of strange and intriguing products on display from biodegradable plastic made from algae to wallpaper made from recycled corn husks.

One stand titled “How do you design a tree?” is part of a conservation effort where a single tree is designed to bear 40 different types of apple.

Another stand displays colored seaweed on a rack, showing how clothes can be dyed in a sustainable, non-chemically corrosive manner.

Propped along a large wall is Fernando Laposse’s wallpaper made of variations of purple corn husks that are reinforced with recycled cardboard and cork to create wallpaper and furniture. The husks come from corn that needs very little water and can be grown in the desert, which makes it all the more sustainable.

“This initiative helps the local economy as it brings in jobs and a resurgence of crafts and food traditions while also ensuring sustainability,” Laposse said.

Another display shows a machine that extracts pellets from a mixture of algae and starch and is used to create a thread that is the base of 3D printing. These sustainable, biodegradable plastics made from algae are being experimented with in different regions.

With the rise of deep fakes — a branch of synthetic media in which a person in an existing image or video is replaced with someone else’s likeness — another stand delivers a warning on the looming dangers of unregulated software.

The Davos forum prides itself on its sustainability, and key topics have included climate, mobility, energy and the circular economy. Everything is recyclable, and participants must download an application in order to keep up with the program and any changes — a move to cut down on paper waste.