Singapore Airlines offers $10,000 compensation to those injured in turbulence flight

<span>The interior of Singapore Airlines flight SQ321 after an emergency landing in Bangkok. The airline has offered $10,000 in compensation for those with minor injuries.</span><span>Photograph: Reuters</span>
The interior of Singapore Airlines flight SQ321 after an emergency landing in Bangkok. The airline has offered $10,000 in compensation for those with minor injuries.Photograph: Reuters

Singapore Airlines has offered US$10,000 compensation payments to passengers who suffered minor injuries during a flight last month that hit sudden, extreme turbulence.

On Tuesday, the airline announced that it had sent compensation offers to passengers who were on board flight SQ321 from London to Singapore on 20 May, which dropped 54 metres in altitude in less than five seconds while flying over Myanmar.

A 73-year-old British man died during the incident – possibly from a heart attack – and the Boeing 777-300ER diverted to Bangkok for an emergency landing.

Related: Singapore Airlines tightens seatbelt rules after turbulence flight death

Of the 211 passengers and 18 crew onboard, 104 people were injured. As of Monday, 12 passengers remain hospitalised in Bangkok.

The airline said it sent compensation offers of US$10,000 to those who received minor injuries on Monday, and would discuss larger payments for more serious injuries with those passengers.

“For those who sustained more serious injuries from the incident, we have invited them to discuss a compensation offer to meet each of their specific circumstances when they feel well and ready to do so,” the airline said.

“Passengers medically assessed as having sustained serious injuries, requiring long-term medical care, and requesting financial assistance are offered an advance payment of US$25,000 to address their immediate needs. This will be part of the final compensation that these passengers will receive,” it said.

Singapore Airlines will also refund all passengers on the flight, even those who were not injured, as well as offer compensation for delays they are entitled to under the European Union’s or United Kingdom’s regulatory schemes.

Under the Montreal convention, airlines are liable for damages for the injury or death of passengers while on an airplane.

While many passengers sustained minor injuries and continued their travels, 20 were treated in intensive care units in Bangkok hospitals.

Injuries of the most seriously affected passengers included skull, brain and spinal injuries, with at least one passenger subsequently experiencing no sensation from her waist down.

Photographs of the inside of the cabin showed oxygen masks and panels hanging from the ceiling, and the floor covered in food and drinks, with luggage scattered around. Patches of blood stained the cabin carpets. One passenger told Reuters overhead plastic panels had been broken by the impact of people’s heads slamming into them.

The airline noted it provided all passengers with S$1,000 (US$739) each “to meet their immediate expenses upon departure from Bangkok”, and that it had also been covering the medical expenses of the injured passengers, and arranged for their family members and loved ones to fly up to Bangkok where requested.

“The aircraft experienced a rapid change in G [gravitational force] … This likely resulted in the occupants who were not belted up to become airborne,” Singapore’s transport ministry said in a statement on a report by the Transport Safety Investigation Bureau.

“The vertical acceleration changed from negative 1.5G to positive 1.5G within 4 seconds. This likely resulted in the occupants who were airborne to fall back down,” it said, citing information extracted from the flight data and cockpit voice recorders.

AFP contributed additional reporting