Several Facebook and Twitter users have shared a two-minute video which shows passengers in a commercial aircraft confronting the airline staff. A man can be heard saying that despite charging three times the usual fare the airlines is not following social distancing norms. If social media claims are to be believed this incident happened in an Air India flight.

Facebook user Praveen Kumar Prabhakar posted the video and pointed out that there was no provision for an empty seat between two passengers. It has been shared over 400 times (archive link).

Air India charged 3 times the fare, in the name of “social distancing”. But the passengers didn’t get even a single seat empty between them.
Looting the public continues unabated.

Posted by Praveen Kumar Prabhakar on Thursday, May 7, 2020

Indian National Congress member Sumit Yaduwanshi also posted the viral video however he didn’t claim the incident took place in an Air India flight. This tweet was retweeted over 170 times before he took it down (archive link).

Alt News has received several requests to fact-check this on WhatsApp (+91 76000 11160) and on our official Android application.

Fact-check

Alt News performed a keyword search on Facebook and found that the viral video was uploaded on April 27 by the Facebook page The Citizen Of Pakistan. According to the video description, the incident occurred in a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight. The video uploaded by The Citizen Of Pakistan sports a logo of Times of Karachi (ToK), a Pakistan-based news platform. Alt News searched for the video on ToK’s social media but could not find it. It seems like the clip has been deleted.

We performed another keyword search, this time on YouTube, and found that on April 26 GNN, a Pakistan-based news channel, reported the incident in question. According to the report, the fight was from Toronto to Islamabad. The confrontation happened because the airlines charged more but still filled the flight as usual.

According to a report by Samaa TV, a Pakistan-based news channel, the passengers were made to sit next to each other instead of leaving a one-seat gap. As per the report, the passengers paid $3,000 for flights that previously cost $1,400. PIA spokesperson told Samaa TV that all safety measures were taken and the planes were disinfected. According to the spokesperson, “The tickets were overpriced because the flight had to come back from Canada empty.”

The incident was reported in Indian media as well. Navbharat Times carried an article that matches the details provided by Samaa TV. Additionally, on May 8, Press Information Bureau tweeted and clarified that the video is not from an Air India flight.

Thus the social media claim associated with the viral video is false. A video from Pakistan has been falsely shared as Indian nationals stranded overseas were charged three times the usual fare by Air India while the airlines did not even take social distancing precautions.

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About the Author

🙏 Blessed to have worked as a fact-checking journalist from November 2019 to February 2023.