Indian airlines are becoming proactive and have stopped shying away from taking extreme measures against misbehaviours on flights.
In a recent on-board incident, an IndiGo passenger, Chhatu Bhagat, was handcuffed in a Dubai-New Delhi flight. Bhagat was tied in a three-hour long flight after he created ruckus, asking the cabin crew to open the door on-board.
After such incidents, domestic carriers have become more aggressive to control unruly passengers. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation has also allowed the use of extreme measures to avoid such incidents.
“Our crew kept a watch on him following the complaint and handed him over to the authorities after landing,” the official added.
Air carrier IndiGo now carries nylon ropes and other restraining device onboard to stop such incidents. The airline has trained its cabin members to follow a four-level procedure to thwart such incidents. If there is verbal abuse, a warning is given. However, if a serious act like breaking into a cockpit takes place, then the person can be handcuffed.
“Restraining devices should be used when all conciliatory approaches have been exhausted,” the airline said.
“At Jet Airways, management of the situation depends on the perceived threat level and mechanics to address them. The vary from an initial ‘soft verbal approach’ to finally ‘restraining’ — should such a situation arise, to manage on-board security,” said an airline spokesperson.
AirAsia, too, confirmed their crew were authorised to handcuff a passenger if the situation gets out of control. “If situation gets out of control, cabin crew are authorised to use the restraining device to protect cabin crew members, other guests and ensure safety of the aircraft,” an airline spokesperson said.
Ministry officials said the government was working to create a blacklist, similarly like the United States, to bar such passengers from flying. “We are working on creating a robust identification process of unruly passengers and prevent them from flying in future,” an official said. A biometric entry has been launched as a pilot at some airports such as Hyderabad and Bengaluru.
Vistara said it has rarely faced such situations but has trained its crew to manage such situations. “An action can be taken against such passengers on careful evaluation of each unique case with options including but not limited to offloading them when on ground or handing over warning letters if airborne,” said a Vistara spokesperson.
The number of incidents involving unruly passengers has jumped 12-fold in four years, according to the International Air Transport Association.