India flights: Advisory issued amid rising mid-air brawls; 3 categories under which passengers can be banned

This comes in wake of London-bound Air India flight returning to Delhi airport following a fight in which a passenger caused 'physical harm' to cabin crew

By ANI

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Published: Tue 11 Apr 2023, 8:23 AM

Last updated: Tue 11 Apr 2023, 10:44 PM

Amid multiple reports of unruly behaviour by passengers onboard flights, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in India has issued an advisory to all airlines asking them to take action against such behaviour during flights.

The advisory comes in the wake of a London-bound Air India flight returning to Delhi airport following a mid-air brawl in which a passenger caused "physical harm" to cabin crew members. The advisory also cited several other incidents that have happened in the recent past.


"In the recent past, DGCA has noticed a few incidents of smoking in aircraft, consumption of alcoholic beverages resulting in unruly behaviour, altercations between passengers and sometimes inappropriate touching or sexual harassment by the passengers on board the aircraft during the flight, wherein post holders, pilots and Cabin Crew members have failed to take appropriate actions. Such incidents have the potential of compromising the safety of aircraft operations," read the advisory.

"The individual's/Airline's responsibility for handling incidents of unruly behaviour including smoking in aircraft, consumption of alcoholic beverages resulting in unruly behaviour, altercations between passengers and incidents of inappropriate touching or sexual harassment by the passengers on board the aircraft during the flight have been specified under various provisions of the Aircraft Rules 1937, DGCA regulations. circulars and manuals of Airlines approved/ accepted by DCGA," it read.


The DGCA advised airlines to sensitise their pilots, cabin crew and post-holders on handling unruly passengers.

"Heads of operations of all Airlines are hereby advised to sensitize their pilots, Cabin Crew and post holders on the handling of unruly passengers through appropriate means including but not limited to training programmes for ensuring effective monitoring, maintenance of good order and discipline on board the aircraft safety of aircraft operations is not jeopardized in any manner," it read.

According to the Deccan Herald, unruly passenger behaviour is categorised into three levels by the DGCA. Passengers falling under these categories can be banned from flying for certain periods of time.

Level 1 includes unacceptable behaviour such as physical gestures, verbal harassment and inebriation. Physically abusive behaviour such as pushing, kicking or sexual harassment come under level 2. Life-threatening behaviour such as damage to aircraft operating systems, physical violence such as choking and murderous assault comes under level 3.

An internal committee set up by the airline concerned can decide on the duration of the flying ban.

Earlier, on Monday, the AI flight, which took off for Heathrow Airport (London) around 6.30am, returned to Delhi airport around 10 am after the crew reported to pilots about the physical altercation mid-flight.

In a statement, Air India said, "Air India flight AI 111 scheduled to operate Delhi-London Heathrow on April 10, 2023, returned to Delhi shortly after departure due to the serious unruly behaviour of a passenger on board. Not heeding verbal and written warnings, the passenger continued with unruly behaviour including causing physical harm to two of the cabin crew members."

"The pilot in command decided to return to Delhi and the passenger was handed over to the security personnel upon landing. An FIR has also been lodged with the police. Safety, security and dignity of all on board are important to us at Air India. We are providing all possible support to the affected crew members. We regret the inconvenience caused to the passengers and have rescheduled the flight to depart for London this afternoon," Air India said.

After the plane landed at the Indira Gandhi International airport in the national capital, Air India filed a police complaint accusing the passenger of "indecent behaviour".

Legal action was being pursued against the said passenger, the airline said in its statement. The airline said that it also informed the DGCA about the incident.

Earlier, in January, a man, identified as Shankar Mishra, was arrested for allegedly urinating on a woman on board an AI flight on November 26 last year. The Delhi Police arrested him on January 6 this year.

It was alleged that Mishra, in an inebriated state, urinated on a 70-year-old woman on a New York-Delhi flight on November 26, last year.

Delhi Police had registered an FIR against him on January 4 on a complaint given by the woman to Air India.

The police registered an FIR under sections 354, 509, and 510 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Section 23 of the Indian Aircraft Act. Both the accused and the victim are from outside Delhi.

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