It is generally accepted that air space around India’s crowded airports is not ideal. We have heard horror stories of aircrafts coming dangerously close. We have heard incidence of computer in air traffic control failing and manual management of busy airports often become difficult. All said and done, by gods grace, we have not seen many or any major accident.
On the other hand, space within aircraft is also becoming very dangerous. We have heard of a privileged and entitlement conscious passenger beating an airline employee for being slighted. The incident forced government to bring law that would empower airline employees to handle unruly passengers. A side effect of such a law has manifested itself, when a middle aged passenger was body slammed in the tarmac after an alteraction in New Delhi.
A video of the event has emerged in public domain. In the video, the following can be seen and/or heard:
- one can hear Mr. Katiyal using abusive language, “F-word”;
- employees, it can be heard, objected to use of such a language;
- an employee was shouting stop him from boarding the bus.
- It can be seen that Mr. Ravindr Katiyal was prevented from boarding a bus that would take him from tarmac to terminal.
- It can be seen that an employee was physcially restraining Mr. Katiyal.
- When released of the vice grip, Mr. Katiyal was seen attacking another employee on charge of pushing him.
- In turn, the employee tackles and throws him on the ground. We can see employee was restraining Mr. Katiyal by holding him by his throat.
- Mr. Katiyal, lying on the ground, can be seen hitting the employee.
As the video went viral and picked up by TV channels additional information emerged.
- Mr. Katiyal was travelling from Chennai to Delhi by Indigo airline. His plane landed in Delhi at noon when temperature in the tarmac was close to 37 degree celcius.
- Mr. Katiyal allowed elderly, ladies and children to board the shuttle bus.
- Mr. Katiyal was waiting for the bus, under shade of the plane. His conflict started when an employee asked him to come out of the shade. According to Mr. Katiyal employee spoke to him rudely.
- The person with whom Mr. Katiyal had physical conflict was not even the person who instigated the initial fight.
- To add insult to injury, in police station Mr. Katiyal was told whole incidence was his fault. Katiyal’s wife was told her husband was psychotic. They were threatened with a counter law suit by Indigo.
- To be fair, keeping in mind passenger safety, no one is allowed to come close to the aircraft. A member of ground staff, of an airline was sucked in by engine of a jet liner in an Indian airport.
Even if we agree that Indio ground staff did not hit Mr. Katiyal, despite being attacked and abused, and Indigo staff were going by the rule book that a passenger is not allowed to go near the aircraft for his own safety, a few points must be considered:
- Mr. Katiyal was not allowed to board shuttle and physically prevented him. This cannot be permitted. Does Indigo has any right not to let a customer board shuttle bus to settle score?
- Even if Mr. Katiyal, a 50 plus year old passenger, had thrown the first punch, Mr. Katiyal was no match to airline staff. Could trained staff of airline have not handle him better? One can see a tall guy holding and restraining Katiyal. They could have simply resorted to such a tactic.
- Airline staff should be trained to deal with all kind of passengers. One thing is a rowdy client on board a flight and another is dealing with a passenger on tarmac. More so under peak mid day sun. Indigo staff should have controlled themselves, let the passenger move to cooler climes of bus and terminal. That is how a mature and trained staff behave.
- Mr. Katiyal was thrown on the ground. He could have been seriously injured in the process. Mr. Katiyal was a paying customer. He certainly did not bargain for sucha treatment when he boarded the flight. Indigo could have handed him over to CISF. The person who instigated had left. In 40 degree heat if a passenger was waiting for bus, he could have treated much more professionally.
- If Indigo was on the right side of legal and moral divide, why did they sit on the video for so long?
Overall, the airline came out in very bad light. In the US, a passenger was injured when security personnel tried to deboard him forcefully. United Airlines had pay a hefty compensation to the passenger. I think the Incidence merits serious compensation and criminal investigation.