The focus is back on male Indian flyers after actor Zaira Wasim filed a complaint against a fellow passenger for touching her inappropriately.
New Delhi: This week, a 17-year-old actor Zaira Wasim said that she was molested by a “middle -aged” man on a flight from Delhi to Mumbai. Wasim, who starred in Dangal, posted a video of her experience on Instagram, in which she said that the man kept touching her inappropriately with his foot.
The accused, 39-year-old Vikas Sachdev, has reportedly said that his actions were unintentional. While Sachdev has been arrested following the public outcry over the actor’s post, Indian men are notorious for behaving badly on airplanes. On social media platforms such as Quora, there are multiple accounts of Indians harassing airline crew.
ThePrint reached out to some flight attendants to get their points of view. Here are edited excerpts:
Sanchita Nanda, flight attendant with an international airline
I work with an international airline. Most of my colleagues are Germans. Although they love India for the food and history, they avoid dealing with Indian passengers. They also hate working on the India routes, because Indian passengers lack basic etiquette.
The worst offenders are usually rich people, or those flying business class, because they think they can get away with anything. If a male passenger likes your face, he keeps ringing the call-bell, or if you give him a cup, he tries to touch your hand first. As women, we know when male passengers don’t have the right intentions, yet we can’t confront them. We can’t say, “Why did you touch me and not the cup?”
When high-profile guests are involved, my colleagues usually don’t complain because they know the guests can get away with bad behaviour and it could jeopardise their jobs.
Ritu Kapoor*, flight attendant at Air India
Indian passengers treat international flights like an open bar and drink non-stop. In the air, the alcohol hits you way faster than on ground. And I feel drunk male passengers don’t listen to female flight attendants at all.
When a male crew member tells a passenger that he can’t have extra drinks, guests listen and obey. But when a female staff member says the same thing, male passengers often get even more aggressive. A “no” from a woman is unacceptable.
Karan Bajaj*, former flight attendant at Air India
Indian passengers are some of the worst passengers to deal with. Many foreign airlines give “hardship allowances” to cabin crew when they fly to India.
I’ve had a friend who was groped multiple times by a passenger on a flight, and she got him arrested. However, the whole process was rather tedious. If the process to register a complaint was a simpler one, then trust me, there would be a lot more complaints registered.
Aryan Kumar*, flight attendant at Indigo airlines
I have been working as a flight attendant for two-and-a-half years now and I have never witnessed a case of harassment. People do get agitated or angry when flights are delayed, but instances of harassment are rare.
We have protocols for everything. And 99 per cent of the time, all you have to do is listen to passengers so that they can vent their frustrations.
*Names have been changed to protect identity as they are not authorised to speak to the media.