Thursday, July 27, 2017

By treating women passengers differently, Vistara may've just changed flying in India

With its Woman Flyer service, Vistara has begun offering to help women flying solo with their bags, escort them to and from their ground transportation, and give them preferred window and aisle seats on their flights—no middles. The New Delhi-based airline says between 75 and 100 women use the complimentary service each day. It is believed to be the first airline to offer such a service.

Sanjiv Kapoor, Vistara’s chief strategy and commercial officer, said the airline began offering it after noticing women seeking help after their planes had landed. “Our staff is equipped to help women travelling alone with the booking of airport-authorized taxis, as well as escort them to the airport taxi stand upon their request,” Kapoor said via email. “This service is a sincere effort to ensure peace of mind of our women customers.”

India is forecast to become the world’s sixth-largest business travel market by 2019, according to the Global Business Travel Association, but it’s gained an international reputation for being unsafe for women—particularly since the brutal 2012 gang rape, torture, and murder of a medical student attacked on a public bus in New Delhi.

In its notices to Americans about travelling to India, the U.S. State Department is blunt on the danger of sexual assault: “U.S. citizens, particularly women, are cautioned not to travel alone in India.” Australia and the United Kingdom offer similar, slightly more circumscribed warnings for women to avoid travelling alone on Indian public transit. In sexual assault cases in India, “successful prosecutions are rare,” Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade advises. Street harassment, controversially known as “Eve teasing,” is common.
Vistara, meanwhile, hopes to extend its new service for women to international flights once it expands outside of India. In May, Bloomberg News reported that the airline, which flies an all-Airbus A320 domestic fleet, was seeking to recruit pilots trained on Boeing Co. aircraft—a signal the carrier is considering leasing or buying Boeing jets for longer-haul routes outside the country.
27/07/17 Justin Bachman/Economic Times

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