Singapore Airlines offers compensation to turbulence victims on London flight

Singapore Airlines has sent compensation offers to passengers injured when severe turbulence hit flight SQ321 last month, killing a 73-year-old man and injuring 80 people, including life-changing injuries.

On May 20, a flight from London to Singapore had to make an emergency landing in Bangkok after encountering sudden extreme turbulence while flying over Myanmar.

Singapore Airlines confirmed on Tuesday that it had sent offers of US$10,000 (A$15,000) in compensation to passengers who suffered minor injuries in the horrific incident, while those with more serious injuries were invited to discuss offers to consider “their particular circumstances when I feel good and ready for it”.

An advance payment of US$25,000 was offered for the “immediate needs” of passengers medically assessed to have suffered serious injuries requiring long-term medical care and requiring financial assistance.

“This will be part of the final compensation these passengers will receive,” the airline confirmed in a statement on its Facebook page.

The airline said it would refund all passengers for their full airfare and confirmed it would also receive “delay compensation” under EU or UK regulations.

“We have provided all passengers with S$1,000 to cover immediate expenses upon departure from Bangkok,” the airline said in a statement.

“[Singapore Airlines] also covered the medical expenses of the injured passengers and arranged for their family members and loved ones to fly to Bangkok where they were claimed.

“Singapore Airlines deeply apologizes to all passengers for the traumatic experience on board SQ321 on 20 May 2024.

“We are committed to providing our full support and assistance during this time.”

While cash offers may be welcome news to some, an aviation and travel attorney recommended that travelers seek legal advice before signing anything with an airline.

Peter Carter, whose firm Carter Capner Law represents some of the passengers on the plane, said he doubts there was anyone on the plane who was not injured.

“The insurance company should make it clear that the $10,000 offer covers all passengers, including those who endured the horror of the moment but were lucky enough to escape physical injury,” he argued.

Mr Carter recommended that those with injuries be assessed by their specialist doctors to determine how the event may still be affecting them.

“Our working theory remains that this incident could have been avoided and therefore there is some blame on Singapore Airlines,” he argued.

“Our team, which includes highly experienced airline captains, believe there is evidence to show that the aircraft was flying through the top of the storm or in close proximity to the storm as it flew over an area notorious for storm activity in the Intertropical Convergence Zone .

“I suspect that Singapore Airlines knows that the investigation will very soon publicly reveal exactly that, and this announcement is intended to combat some of the negative effects of this very embarrassing revelation.”

When contacted about the allegations, a spokesman for Singapore Airlines said he could not comment on the views of other lawyers.

“SIA is co-operating fully with the relevant authorities in the investigation into this incident,” the spokesman said.

NewsWire cited preliminary findings from an investigation by Singapore’s Transport Safety Investigation Bureau, which said rapid changes in gravity and a 178ft drop in altitude likely caused the injuries to passengers and crew.

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