The deplaning of the members of the Celebrity Cricket League team Kerala Strikers from a domestic flight allegedly for unruly behaviour has brought into focus the in-flight issues that might crop up either among passengers or between passengers and crew members.
Airlines said passenger misbehaviour aboard the aircraft need not always have its genesis inside the aircraft. Sometimes it is an extension of the happenings at the airport during check-in, an airline official told The Hindu.
For instance, sometimes a passenger might feel that he has been unjustly charged for the extra baggage. The anger and frustration emanating from the incident possibly finds expression once the passenger boards the flight where he might pick up a fight either with fellow passengers or crew members for no apparent reason.
Then there are occasions when a passenger gets agitated on finding his seat already occupied and such acts by ignorant passengers could also act as a trigger. “Things very rarely get out of control in which case the final call would be made by the pilot in command who is the boss inside the aircraft,” the official said.
An official of another international carrier said that pent up anger on being charged for excess baggage and alcohol-induced misbehaviour were behind majority of on-board issues. There had been instances in which the airline had to offload and handover the passenger concerned to law-enforcing authorities, the official said.
Such issues take its toll on the on-time performance of airlines and invite the wrath of other passengers who are not involved. This in turn infuriates the airline and crew members, complicating the situation further.
The provisions with regard to on-board issues had been laid down in Part III of the Aircraft Rules, 1937, which deals with general safety conditions. Rule 22 states that no person shall on board an aircraft “assault, intimidate or threaten, whether physically or verbally, a crew member, which may interfere with the performance of the duties of the crew member or lessens the ability of the crew member to perform those duties.”
It further states that no person on board an aircraft shall refuse to follow a lawful instruction given by the pilot-in-command, or on behalf of the pilot-in-command by a crew member, for the purpose of ensuring the safety of the aircraft or of any person or property on board or for the purpose of maintaining good order and discipline on board.
Besides, Rule 23 states that no person shall on board an aircraft assault intimidate or threaten, whether physically or verbally, any person; intentionally cause damage to or destroy any of property; consume alcoholic beverages, which is likely to endanger the safety of aircraft or of any person or jeopardizes the good order and discipline aboard the aircraft.
Biji Eapen, the national president of IATA Agents Association of India, said even without rules the airline passengers were supposed to maintain a code of conduct inside the aircraft for ensuring safety and general decorum.