DELHI- Tata Air India (AI) senior management official was allegedly assaulted by an unruly passenger on a flight back to New Delhi from Sydney on July 9.
According to an official close to the matter, the head of the inflight services department, Sandeep Verma, was on board AI 301 when a Delhi-based passenger attacked him.
Air India Official Attacked
The airline spokesperson informed HT that the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) was informed about the incident. The passenger behaved in an unacceptable manner, despite warnings, causing distress to other passengers and Verma.
Upon the flight’s safe landing in Delhi, the unruly passenger was handed over to the security agency and later apologized in writing. The DGCA’s confirmation of being informed about Verma’s assault is pending.
Verma, a frequent flier to Australia, had booked a business class seat but was downgraded to economy class due to faulty seats. After the incident, Verma moved to row 25, where he confronted a co-passenger misbehaving in the galley. The passenger slapped and abused him.
Efforts by female crew members to control the situation were in vain, necessitating the intervention of a male cabin supervisor from the business class. The unruly passenger received verbal and written warnings.
Aviation insiders criticize Air India’s response, comparing it to their strict actions against previous unruly passengers. Former officials express concern over the airline’s handling of the matter, advocating for zero tolerance towards such incidents.
Rise of Unruly Passengers Incident
According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), there was one unruly passenger incident for every 568 flights in 2022, a significant increase from 2021’s rate of one incident per 835 flights.
Most unruly behaviors included non-compliance, verbal abuse, and intoxication. Physical abuse incidents saw a 61% rise in 2022 compared to the previous year, occurring once every 17,200 flights.
To handle unruly passengers, the following procedures are followed:
- Informing the pilot: Cabin crew informs the pilot and isolates the unruly passenger.
- Alerting the ground staff: The pilot informs the ground staff, and the unruly passenger is handed over to the airline’s security team after landing.
- Filing an FIR: The airline involves local police and files an FIR against the unruly passenger.
- Forming an internal committee: An internal committee investigates the incident based on the pilot’s report.
Categorization of Unruly Behavior and Punishment
Unruly behavior is categorized into three levels, each with corresponding punishments as per DGCA regulations:
- Level 1: Disruptive behavior – Up to three months on the no-fly list.
- Level 2: Physically abusive behavior – Up to six months on the no-fly list.
- Level 3: Life-threatening behavior – A minimum period of 2 years or more without limit on the no-fly list.
In conclusion, Air India faces scrutiny for its response to the alleged assault on a senior management official by an unruly passenger during a Sydney-Delhi flight.
As incidents of unruly behavior increase, the aviation industry seeks more stringent measures to ensure passenger safety and maintain order onboard.
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