Passengers flying from Newark Liberty International Airport to Mumbai on an Air India flight last week said in a series of tweets that the plane was infested with bed bugs, leaving the travelers with bites across their bodies.
Air India responded to customer complaints in a statement, and the airline plans to temporarily ground flights between Newark and Mumbai, according to The Independent.
“Experienced experts have carried out extensive service on the aircraft from fumigation to overhaul of the upholstery/ seat covers/carpets etc to ensure that passengers keep enjoying their in-flight experience with us as always without any complaint of inconvenience,” the airline said in a statement to NBC News.
New Zealand news outlet Stuff reported that a passenger surveyed the area around the seats after her daughter complained of a rash. The woman reportedly noticed a bed bug on her husband’s seat before takeoff but dismissed it.
The passengers who tweeted about the incident said they were sitting in business class. One-way adult ticket prices on the route exceed $1,000, according to Air India’s website.
Pravin Tonsekar posted pictures of the bugs on Air India flight 144 on Twitter.
@airindiain @sureshpprabhu @narendramodi_in Suresh Prabhuji - just arrived from New York on Air India 144 business class with family . All our seats infested with bed bugs . Sir , have heard of bed bugs on trains but shocked to experience on our maharaja and that too business pic.twitter.com/m2GnfOpTO3— Pravin Tonsekar (@pat_tons) July 17, 2018
Saumya Shetty posted an image of multiple large bites on her arm and wrote in a tweet “AI still has to get in touch with me [sic] inspite if my repeated attempts to get in touch with them.”
Another Twitter user said his wife and three kids were sitting in business class and had bed bug bites “all over their body” after paying more than $10,000 for the flight tickets.
"Air India is deeply concerned with a few reports of "bugs" causing inconvenience to its esteemed passengers,” the airline said. “The issue has been viewed seriously and every possible step is being taken to closely inspect and further strengthen our system at every level to ensure that such isolated incidents of passenger discomfiture do not affect our consistent performance.”
Bed bugs aren’t known to spread diseases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but their bites can create swelling, itching and skin irritation.