In yet another in-flight incident of the kind, a male passenger on Air India’s Mumbai-Delhi flight on June 24 defecated, urinated and spat on the floor of the aircraft, forcing the cabin crew to seclude him from the others.
The passenger, identified as Ram Singh, was handed over to the security personnel after the plane landed at Delhi airport. A police complaint has been registered and the incident has also been reported to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
Such incidents have seen a spike in the last few months with the DGCA even issuing an advisory to airlines, reiterating the existing provisions in place to deal with unruly passengers.
Here’s a look at the mid-flight incidents caused by unruly passengers so far this year:
June 24 | A passenger on Air India flight AI866 operating from Mumbai to Delhi allegedly defecated, urinated, and spat in row nine of the aircraft on June 24. The accused, identified as Ram Singh, was handed over to the security personnel after the plane landed at Delhi airport. A case under IPC sections 294 (obscene acts) and 510 (misconduct in public by a drunken person) has been registered.April 8 | A 30-year old passenger from Kanpur who was travelling from Delhi to Bengaluru on an IndiGo flight was arrested for attempting to open the emergency exit mid-air. Indigo Airlines said in a statement that a passenger travelling on flight 6E 308 from Delhi to Bengaluru tried opening the flap of the emergency exit in an inebriated state. The accused, Pratheek, from Patrakarpuram in Kanpur, was booked based on a complaint by a crew member under section 290 and 336 of the IPC and 11(A) of the Aircraft Act.March 30 | A 63-year-old Swedish national was arrested for allegedly molesting a crew member onboard an IndiGo flight. Accused Klas Erik Harald Jonas Westberg was allegedly in an inebriated state when the incident took place onboard the IndiGo 6E-1052 Bangkok-Mumbai flight. He was accused of touching a crew member inappropriately while making an in-flight food purchase and also assaulted a co-passenger who intervened. He was booked by Mumbai Police under Indian Penal Code section 354 (molestation) and other provisions of Aircraft Act.March 26 | An intoxicated passenger vomited on the aisle and defecated around the toilet on an IndiGo flight from Guwahati to Delhi. The shocking incident prompted outrage on social media after a photo of a cabin crew member cleaning the mess went viral. Bhaskar Dev Konwar, a passenger on the flight, narrated the incident in a Facebook post.March 23 | Two passengers onboard a Dubai-Mumbai IndiGo flight were arrested for allegedly hurling abuses at crew and co-passengers in an inebriated condition. They were placed under arrest after the flight landed in Mumbai and were granted bail. The two accused, from Nalasopara in Palghar and Kolhapur, were reportedly returning after working for a year in the Gulf and started celebrating by consuming liquor they had brought from a duty-free shop. When co-flyers objected to the ruckus, the duo allegedly abused them and as well as the crew members who took their bottles away. They were booked under Indian Penal Code sections 336 (for endangering life and safety of others) and 21,22 and 25 of Aircraft Rules.March 10 | A passenger onboard an Air India flight from London to Mumbai was handed over to security personnel for allegedly smoking in the lavatory and unruly behaviour. “A passenger on our flight AI130, operating London-Mumbai on March 10, was found smoking in the lavatory. Subsequently he behaved in an unruly and aggressive manner, despite repeated warnings,” an Air India statement said.March 9 | A 24-year-old woman was arrested on arrival in Bengaluru after she was allegedly caught smoking in the toilet of an IndiGo flight from Kolkata. According to a police complaint, the cabin crew suspected that Priyanka C, who was travelling on seat no 17F, was smoking mid-flight and asked her to open the toilet door. Upon inspection, the crew found a cigarette in the dustbin and put it out with water.March 5 | A passenger of a New York-New Delhi American Airlines flight allegedly urinated on a fellow male passenger in a drunken state. “The accused is a student in a US university. He was in a state of inebriation and urinated while he was asleep. It somehow leaked and fell on a fellow passenger who complained to the crew,” a PTI report quoted an airport source as saying. The report added that the male victim was not keen on reporting the matter to police after the student apologised. However, the airline took it seriously and reported it to the Air Traffic Control (ATC) at the IGI airport. The accused passenger was handed over to the Delhi Police.March 4 | A case was registered against a passenger on an Air India Kolkata-Delhi flight for allegedly smoking inside the lavatory of the plane. “He was smoking inside lavatory when the alarm started ringing which alerted the flight crew… The Delhi ATC was informed about the incident and the passenger was handed over to Delhi Police as soon as the flight landed at IGI Airport,” an official had said.January | The incident which took place on November 26 last year came to light this year when the accused, Shankar Mishra, was arrested on January 6 for allegedly urinating on a 72-year-old woman in an intoxicated condition in the business class of the Air India flight on November 26 last year. He was booked under sections 354, 509, and 510 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Section 23 of the Indian Aircraft Act. As outrage mounted over the incident, US-based financial services company Wells Fargo terminated Mishra’s employment and Air India banned him for four months. On January 31, a Delhi court granted bail to Mishra on a personal bond of Rs 1 lakh and a surety of the like amount.
What the Rules Say
DGCA regulations provide for classifying unruly passenger behaviour into three levels and such people can face flying ban for varying periods.
Unruly behaviour such as physical gestures, verbal harassment and unruly inebriation are classified as Level 1 while physically abusive behaviour like pushing, kicking or sexual harassment will be classified as Level 2.
Life threatening behaviour such as damage to aircraft operating systems, physical violence like choking and murderous assault will be considered as Level 3.
Depending on the level of unruly behaviour, an internal committee set up by the airline concerned can decide on the duration for which an unruly passenger can be banned from flying.
In a written reply to Rajya Sabha on April 3, Minister of State for Civil Aviation VK Singh said as many as 63 persons were put in the ‘No Fly List’ by airlines in 2022.