No-fly list: Unruly passengers to be banned for 3 months to over 2 years
New Delhi: The civil aviation ministry implemented India’s first no fly list on Friday, banning passengers from flying if they misbehave.
The misbehavior will be classified into three categories: for verbal abuse passengers may face a three-month ban on flying, for physical assault a six-month ban, and for a life threatening situation a two-year plus ban, civil aviation secretary RN Chaubey said at a briefing on Friday.
Airlines will now have to form an internal committee headed by a retired judge, a representative of another airline and a member of a passenger association.
The airline will be able to ban a passenger initially for 30 days, during which the committee will decide on the ban tenure. If the committee is unable to give its verdict in thirty days, the passenger is free to fly.
During these 30 days the passenger can fly with other airlines if they do not ban him—leaving the choice to the airlines. In the past most airlines have followed each other on such bans.
The airline will send the decision of the committee to the aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) which will maintain a list of these passengers on its website, visible to public.
DGCA said if the same passenger misbehaves twice then the punishment will double from the one given to him the first time.
The aviation ministry will also form an appellate committee headed by retired high court judge with a representative from passenger association and a senior airline official.
Passengers will be able to appeal to this committee against the airlines if they feel the airline has been unfair.
Passenger associations were sceptical of the no fly list saying it would give too many powers to the airlines.
“It is draconian,” said Air Passengers Association of India (APAI) chief Sudhakar Reddy, “Who will sit in judgment when its verbal? Two people talking to each have been offloaded in US because some passengers found the talk odd. I am Chennai-based, you call me names in Bengali how will I know what it is? We have very strong objection of this verbal punishment, unless there is on the spot proof by a witness given.”
Reddy also said to make such rules just because two MPs misbehaved was uncalled for as even in the US there is a no fly list for terrorists.
“Because two MPs have misbehaved and got so much publicity you have made such rules. How many ordinary passengers misbehave everyday?” he said adding MPs will find a way out of this ban as they have done in the past.
Aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju, however, said these rules will apply to everyone and any MP he can also go to the appeals committee to get the ban revoked like any passenger.
Four months ago Shiv Sena member of Parliament (MP) Ravindra Gaikwad had hit a senior Air India employee with a slipper as he could not travel in business class even though he was on an all economy flight. Following the incident, Gaikwad was banned from flying on Air India. Most other airlines followed suit and banned Gaikwad on their flights. The matter was resolved after the MP wrote a letter to the civil avaiation ministry, expressing regret over the incident. The ministry then directed Air India to lift the flying ban.
Reddy said the ministry should strengthen the rules for passenger complaints. The aviation ministry’s Air Sewa app “promptly acknowledges but does not resolve complaints.” A plan to install an passenger ombudsman has not been implemented yet.
Air India, Jet Airways, IndiGo, SpiceJet, GoAir, Vistara and AirAsia India declined to comment on the subject.
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