Female Indian flight attendant looking into the camera
Picture used for representational purposes | MONEY SHARMA/AFP/Getty Images
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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.

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6 Comments Share Your Views

6 COMMENTS

  1. I live in India as a foreigner and all these things are true or worse. Just terrible etiquette generally and awful, leering gropers.

  2. our desi folks are legendary for being aholes. come on we all know it. the world “eve teasing” exists only here. my take? treat aholes like criminals. a few years in jail for a few should send the righr message to the rest of the cretins. for eve teasing? shoot on sight. i hate those scum

  3. Please don’t generalize by saying Indian men are notorious for behaving badly on airplanes . Can I also say Indian women are notorious for false allegations ? . There is a 50 percent probability that the allegation of this so called actress is false. Who is the editor of this blog . Looks like he doesn’t even care about moderating and editing the posts .

  4. Many of Indian men do that! It’s not just the rich too. I was once taking a train ride all by myself last year and a man sitting diagonally to my seat pulled his chair back and kept on staring at my boobs for the entire 6 hours journey. I was in shatabdi train. Once I gave him an angry look. That son of a bitch shamelessly stared back at me continuously! I was 17 and didn’t say anything and suffered in silence. After that I was too scared to go in a train all by myself. This isn’t a new thing. An experience of this kind but of a little low intensity happens to me every month. While walking on the street few men pass by me while staring at my boobs. Women in India can’t fell safe at isolated places. My brother goes for late night walks. I don’t know how they feel. I just want to try them once. I doubt if I will ever be able to do it.

    In contrast, Indian women are caring, loving and respectful. We sometimes sound rude or butthurt because we have suffered, are suffering and know will suffer way too much.

    Finally, I feel really sorry for those flight attendants. This is simply abuse at workplace.
    I wish there was a quick solution. No politicians have balls to make strict rules. And we should inculcate moral values but it will take a generation for it to work.

    I now have accepted living like this as my fate and try to deal with these incidents property and without losing the balance of my mind.

  5. It’s very bad experience.Its difficult to understand what u people undergo ,unless self experience . Most Indian men think that working women are for sale , and never respect our culture . Be careful that’s all I can say ..All the best ..

  6. This law of molestation is seriously prejudiced against men. Must be balanced. Its misuse is so common. In a civilised society, this kind of prejudice should not be acceptable.

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