Five Indian Americans were told they would be “deported” to India by Russian officials if they refused to board a flight back to Delhi when they were stuck in Moscow after their New York bound flight was cancelled due to heavy snow on Jan. 7.
According to a racial discrimination complaint, Aeroflot staff told the group that there were no available seats on alternative flights and that they would not be provided with any accommodation in Moscow however, were allegedly offering alternative connections to the U.S. to Americans of other decent who had been on the same flight as them.
The Indian American passengers were also denied transit visas and could not leave Sheremetyevo Airport or remain in the country for longer than 24 hours under Russian law, so they would eventually have no choice but to “go back to India” on a later flight or by forcibly “deported” to India, according to an Independent report.
The racial discrimination complaint stated that the five U.S. citizens called the U.S. embassy in Moscow who told them: “It would be illegal for Aeroflot to deport United States citizens to third countries against their will. Although the officer on duty at the embassy repeatedly asked to speak with Aeroflot to correct the situation, Aeroflot employees refused to speak with him, instead reiterating their threat that the passengers would be deported and that if they did not return to India, Aeroflot would ‘make matters worse’ for them — including through criminal deportation and heavy fines.”
The passengers were then handed boarding passes for a Delhi bound flight which they boarded “fearing for their safety and feeling that they had no other choice after Aeroflot’s repeated threat.”
Once they reached Delhi, they were informed there were no Aeroflot flights to New York for more than a week so four of the passengers booked one-way flights to Washington DC through Qatar Airways and the fifth one flew to Miami through Aeroflot six days later.
All five passengers missed several days of work or school.