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Air India modifies in-flight alcohol service policy amid incidents of ‘unruly’ passenger behaviour

Following the recent incident of an unruly passenger peeing on an elderly woman on a flight, Air India has decided to modify its in-flight alcohol service policy. The cabin crew have now been told to tactfully refuse further serving of alcohol if needed.

The Tata group-owned airline was earlier slapped with severe penalties by DGCA for lapses over two incidents of unruly passengers onboard its international flights. 

According to the revised policy, alcohol consumption should not be permitted unless the cabin crew is serving it. The cabin crew has also been told to be attentive to identifying guests that 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,” as per the policy.

In a statement, an Air India spokesperson said the airline referred to the practice of other carriers and based on that, along with inputs from the US National Restaurants Association’s guidelines, it has reviewed its existing in-flight alcohol service policy.

“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 statement said.

“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 said.

Air India was fined Rs 30 lakh (about $37,000) for the way it handled the unruly passenger who peed on an elderly woman on a New York-Delhi flight. The Pilot-In-Command was also suspended for three months on grounds that he failed to discharge his duties. A fine of of Rs 3 lakh was levied on AI’s Director-in-flight services.

The airline has said that it will assist the flight’s pilot-in-command with an appeal against the suspension of his license by DGCA as the airline deems the action as “excessive”.

In another incident, the airline was fined Rs 10 lakh for failing to report a December 6 incident on its Paris-New Delhi flight, in which a passenger peed on a vacant seat and the blanket of another passenger.

(With inputs from agencies)

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