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Thursday, August 5, 2021

Flight Fights: The rise and fall of the irate passenger

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The Centre plans to make some identification mandatory at the time of booking tickets, so in case of any altercations you could be put on a blacklist and banned from flying indefinitely.

For the first time in India, the Centre has come up with rules to ground unruly travellers for varying periods, depending on what they did on board the aircraft they were on. Needless to say, this is a direct result of a demand from all Indian airlines after Shiv Sena MP Rajendra Gaekwad thrashed an employee of Air India with his slipper. The Centre plans to make some identification mandatory at the time of booking tickets, so in case of any altercations you could be put on a blacklist and banned from flying indefinitely.
In the annals of bad behaviour on planes Gaekwad is right up there among the most appalling, but he is by no means an outlier. Of course, people of all nationalities behave badly but a conversation with any flight attendant is a revelation on how particularly awful Indians can be. Just recently comedian Kapil Sharma assaulted his fellow actor Sunil Grover in a drunken stupor on a flight from Australia to Bombay. The attendant allegedly said to him, “Mr Sharma you make the world laugh but today the world is laughing at you.” This incident led to the Comedy Nights team personally apologising to harried co- passengers and after disembarking, they quit en masse. Superstars and celebrities aside, drunk passengers are a daily nightmare mid air. In 2015, alcohol related misconduct had become so bad that several airlines urged the Indian government to consider prohibiting drinks at airports.

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Flying, nowadays, is fraught with tension. A lot seems to happen on planes that doesn’t at other confined spaces like the metro, or a movie hall. Thin air and stress, cramped seats and noise seem to bring out the worst in people. Recently, on a flight about to take off, a man a few rows in front of me, discovered his cellphone was missing. He created a ruckus and dirty glares notwithstanding, forced the pilot to abort take off to investigate where his phone had gone. The flight was shoved to the back of the queue and delayed by an hour. Unless there is a health emergency, there has to be a zero-tolerance policy for any disruptive behaviour on a plane. Like after the crew had problems restraining an erratic passenger, Korean Air issued a statement that they would use stun guns on violaters to crack down on in-flight violence.

What can fliers do if they’re confined with the wrong seat mate for a 12 hour flight? Absolutely nothing except increase the volume on their headphones and stare steadfastly into their tiny TV screens. Not only is it likely that on a flight you will be exposed to incessant infant bawling, you will at some point discover that the adult avatars of babies are infinitely worse. This is the time to ponder on bigger existential questions like if the human race is worth perpetuating. You can also kill time fantasizing how once the ordeal ends, you can post a picture of the offender on Passenger Shaming, a page on Facebook, dedicated to outing the antics of all revolting travellers. Started by a flight attendant, they invite anonymous submissions of incidents on flights and have over four lakh followers. Some of the pictures are truly horrific — a man’s bare feet inches from another passenger’s head. Offenders, now misbehave at your own risk.

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Online Source: indianexpress.com

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