Flyer hits 2 air hostesses, Air India flight to London returns to IGIA
The Dreamliner took off at 6.35am with almost 240 people on board and returned at 9.42am.
Sources said the crew were forced to use restraining devices to ensure the passenger, Jaskirat Singh, remained seated till the Dreamliner landed in Delhi. He was handed over to the police on arrival and an FIR was registered against him under various IPC sections for voluntarily causing hurt; performing an act endangering life or personal safety of others; using words, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman; assaulting or using criminal force on a woman with intent to outrage her modesty and Aircraft Rules.
Singh, who sources said could be in his mid-thirties, was travelling with his parents to Canada to meet his sister. He was seated in economy class seat 20E. Deputy Commissioner of Police (IGIA) Devesh Kumar Mahla said Singh is a resident of Punjab’s Kapurthala. He studied till class 12, and his father is a farmer. Singh was not found to be inebriated and his family claims he is mentally unstable.
The police complaint filed by AI stated that an hour after take off, Singh allegedly tried to open an aircraft door (L2). Two air hostesses tried to stop him from fiddling with the door. “…he threatened to hit (the two air hostesses) and used unparliamentary language. After that, he became violent and hit her on her neck very hard and she fell on the floor… he pulled her hair and then hit (another) crew member on her face,” the airline’s complaint stated, based on which the Delhi Police registered an FIR. Medical examination of the crew and Singh was done.
An AI spokesperson confirmed Monday’s AI 111 to London Heathrow 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.”
“Safety, security and dignity of all on board is 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,” the spokesperson added.
The airline has informed DGAC of the matter. While the legal process will take its own course, AI could now begin proceedings under no-fly rules against Singh. This provision allows an airline to bar unruly passengers from flying for up to a lifetime depending on the gravity of their offence. Then other airlines are free to put this person on their own no-fly list for a similar duration.
AI MD-CEO Campbell Wilson had this February said the airline is now reporting all cases of unruly behaviour to law enforcement agencies. The airline had earlier drawn regulatory ire for not acting on two cases of unruly behaviour last year where inebriated passengers had allegedly peed on a co-passenger in one case and a vacant seat of a co-passenger in the other. The DGAC penalised the airline for these alleged lapses. After that, AI has now become strict and hands over unruly passengers to law enforcement agencies.
“Almost every day, we see instances where inebriated passengers misbehave. Very often people come on board after having a few drinks and some consume their own alcohol bought from duty-free (shops) onboard. (The) crew faces their ire in the form of threats and even assaults when they refuse to serve more liquor to such passengers. We are reporting all such cases now,” Wilson had said two months ago.