Air India flight returns to Delhi with abusive passenger

Close up of engine of Air India Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Olivier Cleynen, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In yet another in-flight incident being reported from India, an unruly passenger on-board Air India’s flight AI 111 was involved in physical altercation with crew members. AviationSource writer Gaurav Gowda reports.

The international flight had departed from Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport on the morning of Monday, April 10 and was headed to London.

Flight AI 111 was carrying around 225 passengers when the incident occurred.  The aircraft was scheduled to depart at 6:35 am IST and departed after a slight delay of 17 minutes.

Approximately 15 minutes after takeoff, a passenger started getting agitated, and when he was subsequently involved in a physical altercation with two cabin crew, the PIC decided to return to Delhi and reported the incident to ATC.

Once the aircraft landed back in Delhi International airport, the passenger was escorted out by CISF personnel, and the airline lodged an FIR (First Incident Report) against the said passenger with the local police.

The flight landed at 09:40 am IST at Delhi airport. All the passengers were de-boarded following the incident and the flight was rescheduled to fly later that afternoon.

Air India statement

“Air India flight AI 111 scheduled to operate Delhi-London today returned to Delhi shortly after departure due to the serious unruly behavior of a passenger on board.”

“Not heeding to verbal and written warnings, the passenger continued with unruly behavior including causing physical harm to two of the cabin crew members. The passenger was handed over to the security personnel upon landing.”

“An FIR has also been lodged with the police, safety, security, and dignity of all on board is important to us at Air India.”

“We are providing all possible support to the affected crew members convenience cost to the passengers and have rescheduled the flight to depart for London this afternoon,” the airline said in a statement.

Unruly passengers – a growing problem

Cases of unruly passengers in the country seems to be on rise and, having observed this, the Indian aviation watchdog DGCA has reminded airlines and air operators of their responsibilities in taking strict action against such offenders.

A recent DGCA advisory called on airlines to categorize the level of unruly behaviour in such inflight incidents and make determinations as to how long offenders are placed on a “No Fly” list, banning them from air travel.

DGCA categorize problem incidents into three levels as follows:

Level 1: Unruly behaviour involving physical gestures, verbal harassment and unruly inebriation.

Level 2: Physically abusive behaviour such as pushing, kicking, hitting, inappropriate touching or sexual harassment.

Level 3: Life threatening behaviour such as damage to aircraft operating systems, and physical violence such as choking, eye gouging, murderous assault, and attempted or actual breach of the flight crew compartment.

In January 2023 Air India was penalized twice for failing to report two incidents where intoxicated passengers caused a nuisance in-flight.

As a result, the airline was issued with a notice and the crew in one of the incidents was de-rostered. The airline was then slapped with a fine of Rs. 30 Lakhs.

The DGCA advisory reminded air operators, flight crews and cabin crews of their roles and responsibilities with regards to in-flight incidents.

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