New Delhi: Domestic airlines have bolstered measures to deal with unruly passengers on board aircraft following a recent spate of such incidents.
Aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had in November 2014 mandated the airlines to apply restraining devices to tackle an unruly passenger when all conciliatory approaches had been exhausted, including verbal communication.
It had also asked the carriers to properly train their flight and cabin crew as well as ground staff to handle such cases. “We at IndiGo carry a restraint device on all our domestic flights. IndiGo complies with the government guidelines and we have a standard operating procedure (restricted) to restrain passengers only when all the conciliatory approaches have been exhausted,” IndiGo said.
This has been incorporated in IndiGo’s safety and emergency procedure manual, it said. IndiGo also said that prior to employing the restraining technique, a very useful industry-developed procedure is used by it for determining the seriousness of an unruly or assaultive-passenger incident, and the responses thereby warranted.
It said the procedure pertains to a four-tier scheme of threat levels. IndiGo had last week offloaded 70 passengers from a Raipur-bound flight from Hyderabad alleging “unruly behavior”. The passengers have in turn filed a police complaint alleging “harassment” by the airline’s staff.
Global airlines body International Air Transport Association (IATA) has on several occasions expressed concern over the rising number of cases of unruly passengers reported by airlines.
Airlines from around the world had announced they would work jointly to devise steps for checking the menace at the 70th IATA annual general meeting in Doha in 2014, which had also adopted a resolution calling on governments and the industry to work together on a balanced package of measures to address the problem of unruly air passenger behavior.
“SpiceJet has been following the DGCA guidelines, including on keeping restraint devices to deal with unruly passengers on board since 2014 itself,” an airline official said.
According to the DGCA guidelines issued on 18 November 2014, unruly behavior could be the result of unsatisfactory service and condition or effect of a series of such events that build up. “Airline staff should observe early signs of potential unruly behaviour. Airlines shall focus and act on these early signs rather than dealing exclusively with escalated events. At no stage, the airline staff/crew member shall show discourteous behavior during redressal of genuine passenger (grievances),” it said.
Besides, crew members must attempt to defuse a critical situation until it becomes clear that there is no way to resolve the same through verbal communication and written notice to passenger, the guidelines state, adding that “restraining devices should be used when all conciliatory approaches have been exhausted”.