‘Politely refuse’: Post pee-gate, Air India tweaks in-flight alcohol policy

Cabin crew have been asked to tactfully and respectfully decline more servings to drunk passengers without being rude or disrespectful

Air India, flight, drunk man, female passenger, urinated
In a statement an Air India spokesperson said the policy has been put together after reviewing the existing in-flight service policy of the airlines and after taking reference from that of other carriers. Representative photo: PTI

In the wake of the controversial peeing incident aboard an Air India New York-New Delhi flight, the airlines has modified its in-flight alcohol service policy under which cabin crew have been instructed to tactfully decline further serving of alcohol when needed.

In a set of revised policies issued on January 19, Air India has made it clear to the crew that guests should not be allowed to drink alcohol unless served by attendants and that cabin crew identify guests who might be consuming their own alcohol.

“Service of alcoholic beverages must be carried out in a reasonable and safe manner. This includes tactfully refusing to (further) serve a guest alcohol,” the policy said.

Also read: Pee-gate: Air India imposes 4-month flying ban on Shankar Mishra

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The Air India’s policy comes days after it was fined by the DGCA over two incidents of passengers urinating on fellow passengers aboard two international flights.

The airlines has also issued dos and don’ts for cabin crew on refusing service of alcohol, instructing them to be polite and avoid value judgement.

“Don’t call the guest a ‘drunk’ – warn them politely that their behaviour is unacceptable,” the service policy says.

Crew have also been instructed not to engage with guests who get angry and try reasoning with them instead.

“Don’t raise your voice. If they raise theirs, lower yours…don’t put off refusal, act while the guest can still be reasoned with,” the airlines said, adding that, “managing unduly intoxicated patrons must be done assertively and respectfully.”

“Air India empowers its cabin crew to deny boarding / refuse service of liquor or remove any unconsumed alcohol where a guest is consuming their own and where there are reasonable grounds to believe that guests faculties are impaired by alcohol to an extent that will present a hazard to the aircraft, to persons on board (crew or guests) or to the guest themselves,” the airlines said in the policy.

In a statement an Air India spokesperson said the policy has been put together after reviewing the existing in-flight service policy of the airlines and after taking reference from that of other carriers as well as inputs from the US National Restaurants Association’s guidelines.

“These were largely in line with Air India’s existing practice, though some adjustments have been made for better clarity, and NRA’s Traffic Light system included to help crew recognise and manage possible cases of intoxication,” the spokesperson said in the statement.

“The new policy has now been promulgated to crew and included in training curricula. Air India remains committed to the safety and well-being of our passengers and cabin crew, including but not limited to the responsible service of alcohol,” the spokesperson added.

Also read: Air India urination: Woman says Mishra’s ‘peed herself’ claim is ‘concocted’

While cabin crew have been asked to look for signs of undue intoxication among guests based on their speech, coordination, balance and behaviour, these observation can be classified as green, yellow and red.

The airlines has said that guests identified with symptoms like slurred speech, wobbly walk, using foul language and displaying threatening behaviour at the time of boarding should be reported to the cabin supervisor or the pilot in command.

On Tuesday, the airlines said it has closed the internal probe into the case and will assist the flights pilot-in-command with an appeal against the suspension of his license by DGCA as the airline deems the action as “excessive”.

Last week, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) suspended the license of the pilot for three months, imposed a penalty of ₹30 lakh on Air India and ₹3 lakh on the director of the airlines in-flight services related to the urination incident that happened on November 26, 2022.

Tata group-owned Air India on Tuesday said it has closed the internal investigation into the actions of its crew operating and administrative staff supporting the AI 102 (New York-New Delhi) on November 26, 2022. In a statement, the airline said it accepts that, notwithstanding the mitigating circumstances, based on the letter of the CAR (Civil Aviation Requirement) it did not correctly classify the incident and therefore did not report it as required.

Watch | Glitch forces Air India Express flight to return

“The crew and ground staff have been issued warning letters to henceforth adhere strictly to CAR definition of unruly when reporting incidents onboard so that later investigation can assess the facts. The cabin crew and ground staff have been counselled and have since returned to duty,” it said.

“Air India wishes to acknowledge the good faith efforts made by the crew to handle the situation effectively in real-time when not all facts were available. It also notes that a contemporaneous written statement by a fellow business class passenger includes an explicit commendation of the actions of the cabin crew and that his criticism of the pilot was in the context of not having been granted an upgrade,” the statement said.

 

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