SpiceJet crew member alleges strip search by airline staff

 SpiceJet, in a statement, said that it was standard operating procedure (SOP) to prevent smuggling of money and items by the crew.

SpiceJet, in a statement, said that it was standard operating procedure (SOP) to prevent smuggling of money and items by the crew.

A female cabin crew member belonging to low-cost airline SpiceJet’s Hyderabad base has alleged strip search, harassment, torture and inhuman behaviour on part of the security and ground staff of the airline.

In a letter to the airline’s chairman Ajay Singh, the crew member says the airline staff frisked her private body parts thus violating her.

A copy of the letter is reviewed by The Hindu.

The crew member’s name has been withheld to protect her identity and dignity.

The airline, in a statement, said that it was standard operating procedure (SOP) to prevent smuggling of money and items by the crew.

The crew member who has worked with the airline for five years and claims an excellent service track record, writes in the letter: “We were treated as criminals the moment we stepped down from the aircraft. Two male ground staff escorted us one at the front and the other at the rear from the aircraft to the crew vehicle till the crew dispatch.”

“They took both of us (she and her colleague) to a room where already 4 to 5 female ground staff were waiting along with the In-flight co-ordinator of Hyderabad Base. They said they need to check our bags and everything as this was an order from the higher management and we should co-operate,” she said in the letter.

“They opened our bags and checked everything and all the personal and private belongings even though they were sealed. They made us open our shoes and checked the heels of the shoes. After the bag check was over we (me and my crew) were treated in a inhuman way,” the latter said.

“The staff forced us to take off our undergarments and we were frisked maliciously and in an inappropriate manner which I am ashamed to mention here,” the letter said.

“They unzipped our uniforms, put their hands inside it and frisked our private body parts violating our fundamental right to privacy to the core. After the checks and frisking was over we were told we can leave the room with our scattered bag belongings.”

“I was completing my post flight work they called me and said they need to frisk my body again and took me to that room. The second time frisking was worse and beyond imagination.

“I feel humiliated, embarrassed, mistreated and insulted. All these happened infront of all those female staffs from the ground service present in the room and some male staffs waiting outside,” she said in the letter.

When she insisted to make a video of the whole thing their phone was taken away and switched off against their will. “The room did not have CCTVs — what if people there could have crossed their limits,” the latter said.

“In all my life, I have never been treated like this. My dignity, my privacy has been hurt and violated to the core and my femininity has been targeted and degraded. This kind of environment doesn’t seem to be safe. I speak on the behalf of other honest and dedicated cabin crew that none of us deserve to be treated like this as though we are thieves,” the letter added.

Asking for appropriate and necessary actions to be taken to address what has happened she writes, “You have a daughter Sir, what would you do if she was to write this email to you?”

SpiceJet in a stentement said: “As per security and safety SOP, random “pat down” search is conducted on various employees, including cabin crew, from time to time — a global industry practice. One of the objectives of this search is to ensure that there is no pilferage of company moneys/goods, smuggling or any illegal activity that an employee may be lured into.”

“This search essentially is the same as what any passenger goes through at any of the Indian airports while going through security check. These searches are conducted as per strict norms laid down by the security agencies in CLOSED ROOMS, and by well trained employees of SAME GENDER.”

The airline further added, “Based on a specific security tip off following certain recent instances in other airlines, SpiceJet’s Security team undertook searches at few of our stations on the night of 28/29 March. A few cases of pilferage were detected and appropriate disciplinary action has been initiated.

“These searches are not only a normal aviation industry practice, but also in multiple industries across the world. Allegations regarding deviation from these SOPs are being investigated and strict action will be taken if anybody is found guilty.”

In a caution to the media for reporting this matter, the statement added, “If the allegations are found to be untrue/false, then the media reports are defamatory in nature.”

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Printable version | Jul 1, 2022 7:07:25 am |