A low-cost carrier based in Indonesia has found itself attracting controversy after one of its passengers climbed aboard only to realize that her seat was missing. The passenger, a lady named Satwika Ika, was flying on Lion Air from Palembang to Jakarta on a $45 ticket. She was issued a certain seat number on the flight, but was shocked to find that this seat was non-existent.
According to reports, Ms. Ika was provided with seat number 35F, but the aircraft’s last seat was a number 34. Also, Ika wasn’t the only victim. She stated that a family with a young child had also suffered the same situation. They were allotted seat number 35, which did not exist either.
Ika’s Facebook post, which was shared over 10,000 times, mentioned that she had brought the issue to the attention of cabin crew, after which, she was provided with a spare seat in the middle of the aircraft after boarding was completed.
Though the cabin crew was helpful, it is believed that they were rude and impolite. After the post achieved viral status, Lion Air issued an apology to Ika and the family. They carrier also provided information as to why the error occurred.
A different aircraft
The error occurred as a result of the carrier’s decision to swap aircraft. The original aircraft, a Boeing 737-900ER with higher seating capacity, was replaced by a Boeing 737-800NG, which is a smaller aircraft.
According to Danang Mandala Prihantoro, a Corporate Communications officer for Lion Air, the swap itself was the result of a decision taken to prevent flight delay. But, since Ika and the others had purchased the tickets before the date of the switch, the system failed to update the information.
The airline responded to Ika with an apology, which she is said to have accepted. However, Ika was still upset over the fact that the apology was only for the confusion caused and not for the rude behavior of the cabin crew as well.
A fast-growing airline
Lion Air operates routes to around 126 locations within Saudi Arabia, China, Malaysia, and Indonesia. It is the second-largest carrier in South East Asia under the “low-cost” category. However, its expansion has been quick. The carrier already has 114 aircraft and has placed orders for 247 more.
In 2017, the carrier got its hands on the 737, establishing itself as the largest single buyer of Boeing’s super-efficient jetliner. 6 years prior to that, the carrier made headlines for placing an order worth $22 billion with Boeing. This pushed it ahead of Emirates, which held the record at the time. Apart from Boeing, Lion Air also has orders for A330-900NEOs from Airbus.
The company, which is about to complete 10 years of operation, has even doubled the number of seats, bringing the current figure to 48.7 million.
Lion Air was initially banned (for safety reasons) from operating within EU airspace for about 10 years. However, that ban was lifted in 2016. In fact, it managed to secure the top safety ranking from the International Civil Aviation Organization. Other than that, it also secured a position in the top safety tier at AirlineRatings.com, an international airline rating agency.