Thursday, June 25, 2020

Pandemic panic among flyers could lead to more unruly passengers, DGCA warns airlines

New Delhi: India’s aviation regulator has warned airlines to prepare for increased cases of pandemic-time unruly passengers due to heightened stress. Disagreements or fights over things like refusing to wear masks or suspecting someone to be showing Covid symptoms have been identified as new flashpoints in the current situation.

Airlines have accordingly been asked to publicise the new norms for flying that need to be followed to minimise the spread of the pandemic, as well as the punishment unruly passengers can face in case of not adhering to the norms, which includes being barred for flying for varying periods of time.

While operating in Covid-19 environment, “there may be increased stress on passengers due new processes in place which may lead to increased disputes between passengers or with the crew. An increase in cases of unruly or disruptive passengers should be expected, either prior to departure or inflight. Such behaviour, in the context of pressures imposed by Covid 19 pandemic, may be less aggressive or intrusive than the normally exhibited unruly behaviour, hence extra attention and steps need to be devoted for the prevention and management of unruly passengers,” the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said in a cabin safety circular issued on Wednesday.

The likely pandemic onboard flash points could be: “Passengers refusing to continue wearing a face mask in-flight; increased disputes between passengers according to their ethnicity or country of residence and increased stresses on passengers through airport processes and overall travel experience which may trigger exceptional responses inflight to
disputes or requests for compliance and impact of distancing and health screening of passengers through airports which may slow the passenger transit and increase the likelihood of missed connections.”
The other potential flashpoints identified are: “Fear of infection which may cause more disputes between passengers due to non-compliance or poor hygiene etiquette, or the presence of symptoms similar to those associated with Covid-19.”
24/06/20 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India
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