Kenya Airways Passenger Taken to Court for Using Phone in Airplane Mode In-Flight

A Kenya Airways passenger has been taken to a Nairobi Court after arguing with KQ flight attendants on whether he should or should not switch off the phone in a KQ flight from Kigali to Nairobi. According to the passenger, Prasun Chaturvedi, his phone was in offline/airplane mode and so he found it had to fathom why the flight attendant would insist on him switching his phone off.

The flight attendant did not later come to make sure that the phone was switched off but instead insisted that the passenger apologise for apparently using bad language in addressing her. The passenger later switched off the phone but was immediately detained on arrival at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport where he was coerced into writing an apology letter.

The Kenya Airways staff were not really interested in the apology but were more interested in seeing the passenger unknowingly confess to the crime through the “apology” and use the “apology letter” to take him to court. Prasun was later released on a police bond of Ksh 50,000 and is scheduled to appear in Nairobi’s Makadara law courts on Tuesday 10th April.

Many of the aeroplane flight attendants are not that tech savvy and barely take time to even read aviation related tech journals to appraise themselves. Even the flight emergency instructions given always allow for use of such devices on offline mode at cruise level. A device in “offline or airplane mode” does not transmit or receive any cellular signals dangerous enough to affect various aviation instruments.

In actual fact, no causal relationships between device use and these failures have been established statistically. Famous blogger, Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post had a nasty spat with in-flight attendants when she refused to switch off her BlackBerry on a United Express flight. American actor, Josh Duhamel, had the same argument with flight attendants and was later escorted by police off the flight and never allowed on the plane.

KQ flight attendants are never that professional compared to those from BA, Emirates or South African airways in handling clients. I had a nasty exchange with one when he couldn’t let me change seats when I found out that the Boeing 737-300, KQ-762, from Jo’burg to Nairobi had very little space between seats which did not allow my long knees to fit into any of the normal seating. I wanted to change to the seats with extra leg-rooms at the front or next to the emergency exits as always as the seats were unoccupied.

The rude guy insisted that I pay for the extra legroom or I was going nowhere. I just had the nasty exchange and after take-off, I just woke up from my seat and went to sit in the front seat waiting for him to come and confront me. Luckily he did not come but on reaching JKIA, I found my bag broken into and a microSD card wrapped like a wedding which was a gift from the conference I attended in Cape Town, stolen.

Just like Prasun, I found the KQ flight attendants to be foul-mouthed. They never argue on the specific technicalities of the incidents but would take issue with something like your hairstyle or even use your other physical attributes on you.


Written by Robert

Respected Kenyan blogger, tech evangelist, and social justice activist. Robert is known for his hard-hitting articles and opinions disseminated through his Twitter handle @RobertAlai or Facebook page (

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