Airlines may need the patience of zen masters to deal with what is a sense of entitlement about privileges in air passengers
The behaviour of a drunk passenger in business class on board an Air India flight was so obnoxious that the airline should have acted promptly in handing him over to the law the moment he landed in New Delhi. The time lapse between the mid-air incident on Nov. 26 and the notifying of law enforcement authorities more than a month later is suggestive of the airline dragging its feet because the businessman may have offered to compensate the victim, an elderly lady passenger, for his unforgivable act of exposing himself to her and urinating on her.
The matter escalated to the level of the chairman of the airline, despite which the news of the crass behaviour of a flyer emerged late and only because the gory details had spilled into the public domain through the social media. Airlines may need the patience of zen masters to deal with what is a sense of entitlement about privileges in air passengers. Recent reports of behaviour in which passengers have stepped way beyond the red line in a public place like an airport or inside an aircraft are, however, indicative of this larger malaise.
Ever since a “no fly list” system was introduced a few years ago after the well-publicised arrogant behaviour of a national legislator, flyers were warned of the consequences of crossing the line. Apparently, the fear has dissipated with time as recent incidents show of passengers setting upon each other mid-air after arguments over seating or ordering the airline personnel around as if they were their personal servants.
Indians are not the only flyers who are known to behave in uppity manner, but they must come close to topping, at least in terms of numbers, the list of people likely to cause unsavoury events by their being discourteous towards fellow fliers and airline crew in the air and on the ground, especially at the check-in counters.
The threat of being put on a “no fly” list for extended periods of time may not be deterrent enough. A stiff monetary fine and even a jail term for a flyer like the drunk who could not hold his pee may serve to let the message sink in that no person is licensed to be bad-mannered just because he has bought an airline ticket.
It appears the Indian flyer must be sensitised towards flying as a necessary service connecting places rather than a huge privilege while cosseted in luxurious service with cabin crew at their beck and call. Such an exercise would be pointless until this rogue flier is made to face the full force of the law for having transgressed the rights of a fellow passenger, that too in despicable fashion with no understanding of civilised behaviour.
It was the duty of the airline to have reported the passenger regardless of what private arrangement he may have sought to make with the victim, who too was treated callously by the crew after she had had her privacy “invaded” in this manner. The crew, their commander and the airline have a lot to answer for in this classic case of intemperate behaviour.