Drunk man urinates on woman co-passenger on Air India flight, airline files FIR a month later

The airline not only failed to hand him over to security personnel but also forced the woman to sit in the urine-soaked seat for a part of her journey

January 04, 2023 11:23 am | Updated January 05, 2023 12:04 am IST - NEW DELHI

Representational file image.

Representational file image. | Photo Credit: Reuters

A senior citizen woman passenger had the most traumatic flight when a heavily inebriated co-traveller urinated over her on an Air India flight from New York to Delhi, but the airline not only failed to hand him over to security personnel but also forced the woman to sit in the urine-soaked seat for a part of her journey.

The incident happened on Air India’s flight 102 from New York to Delhi on November 26 that took off at 12.30 p.m (local time). Both the woman and the intoxicated man, also a senior citizen, were travelling in business class.

But the airline filed a police complaint only on December 28 and the Delhi police registered a First Information Report on Wednesday under Indian Penal Code Sections 354 (sexual harassment), 294 (obscene act), 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman), 510 (misconduct in public by a drunken person) and Section 23 of Aircraft Rules, 1937.

The airline said in a statement that it barred the passenger from flying with it for a period of 30 days as per the rules laid down by the DGCA for dealing with unruly passengers, and reported the matter to the aviation regulator for further action. But the DGCA had not received any report from the airline till the time of writing this story.

Harrowing tale

The woman passenger recounted her harrowing tale in a letter to Tata Sons Chairman N. Chandrasekaran, the day she landed in Delhi and wrote that shortly after lunch was served and the crew switched off the lights, a heavily drunk passenger approached her and “unzipped his pants, relieved himself, and continued to expose his private parts” to the woman.

She described the incident as “the most traumatic flight” ever of her life. The seriousness of the situation however was met with complete apathy from the crew and the woman passenger wrote in her letter that she had to “advocate for herself” and “wait for long periods of time to get a response”.

The woman said she “immediately got up to notify the stewardess. My clothes, shoes and bag were completely soaked in urine. The stewardess followed me to the seat, verified that it smelled of urine, and sprayed disinfectant on my bag and shoes.”

She was then given a set of pyjamas and disposable slippers to change into. Though she asked for a change of seat, she was informed that there were no seats available and was first offered a crew seat and then told to return to her soiled seat.

“Although the staff had put sheets on top, the area was still damp and reeking of urine,” she wrote. Two hours later, she was given the steward’s seat where she sat for the remaining five hours of her journey. This was despite several seats in First Class being vacant.

Later, instead of being extended the courtesy of being escorted till her car while under trauma, the wheelchair service deposited her at a waiting area where she had to clear customs on her own, she wrote.

Panel set up

The airline has constituted an internal committee to “to probe lapses on the part of Air India’s crew and address the deficiencies that delayed quick redressal of the situation.” The aggrieved passenger was refunded the fare for her entire journey from New York to Bengaluru via Delhi. It is also learnt that though the passenger didn’t wish to report the incident to the police or aviation regulator, the airline is now reviewing its standing instructions to crew in such situations as the DGCA rules require airlines and their personnel to proactively identify unruly passengers and prevent such an incident from taking place.

“We are seeking a report from the airline and shall take action against those found negligent,” Director General of DGCA Arun Kumar said.

Meanwhile, the Delhi police are trying to get the details of the accused who remains unidentified. “We’re currently contacting Air India to trace him and the investigation is underway,” a senior Delhi police official said.

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