Sunday, July 16, 2023

Passenger Assaults Air India Official On Flight From Sydney To Delhi

A senior official at Air India was allegedly assaulted by an unruly passenger on a flight last week from Sydney to New Delhi. The airline has reportedly informed India's aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), and the passenger has since apologized for their behavior.

While the unruly traveler has not yet been disciplined officially, Air India indicated that it will pursue the passenger to the full extent of the law. Some officials close to the matter believe the situation set a poor example of zero tolerance regarding disruptive and abusive passengers.

According to the Hindustan Times, the incident happened on July 9th. Sandeep Verma, Air India's Head of Inflight Services, was traveling from Sydney to Delhi and was hit by a passenger from Delhi. A spokesperson for the carrier confirmed the incident in a statement.

“A passenger on board AI301 operating Sydney-Delhi on 9 July 2023 behaved in an unacceptable manner during flight, despite verbal and written warnings, causing distress to other passengers, which included one of our employees.”

An official who confirmed that Verma was an Air India employee said that "no action has been taken" towards the passenger who hit Verma, but the DGCA had been made aware of the incident. However, according to the Hindustan Times, the aviation regulator did not confirm whether it was informed of the assault.

Described as a frequent flyer to Australia, Verma booked a business class seat on the flight back to New Delhi, but he could not sit in his assigned seat because some seats were reportedly defunctive. As a result, he was downgraded to a seat in economy class.

"Verma accepted the downgrade and was then allotted seat 30C," an official said to the Hindustan Times. "He, however, later moved to row 25 since it was vacant. After shifting, Verma began correcting his co-passenger (who was freely walking around in the galley and also picked up a few alcohol bottles for no reason) and had a loud voice. This is when the passenger slapped Verma and twisted his head and abused him."

Five crew members were unable to contain the abusive passenger until a sixth crew member was called in to help get the situation under control. The passenger was reportedly given a verbal and written warning following the incident. Another official indicated that the crew did not use any restraining devices at the request of Verma, although the Hindustan Times reported that said devices are available on Australian flights. Additionally, no complaints were filed with the police.

16/07/2023 Channing Reid/Simple Flying

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