Air India fined USD 37,000/ INR 30 Lakh by Indian aviation regulator; customer put on the no-fly list for 4 months

Earlier on, it came to light that in November 2022, there was an incident where a passenger (later) identified as Shankar Mishra had relieved himself on the seat of a fellow passenger while she was sleeping there. The incident happened on board Air India’s flight AI102 from New York JFK to Delhi in the business class cabin.

At first, we did not know much about the incident, and there was a lot of he said, she said going around about this specific case. While Mr Mishra’s lawyer tried to protect him by stating there was no case, she also released screen grabs of their WhatsApp chats where there is proof that he paid the lady and got her dry-cleaning done for her personal effects. Anyhow, I digress.

India Air Bubble Countries

Air India feels regret for the incident.

There were two separate statements issued once the airline started getting the heat for not properly handling the issue. In a statement attributable to CEO Campbell Wilson, the airline said,

Air India is deeply concerned about the in-flight instances where customers have suffered due to the condemnable acts of their co-passengers on our aircraft. We regret and are pained about these experiences. 

Air India acknowledges that it could have handled these matters better, both in the air and on the ground and is committed to taking action.

Also, the Tata sons Chairman, Mr N. Chandrasekaran, made a statement along similar lines.

The incident on Air India flight AI102 on November 26th, 2022, has been a matter of personal anguish to me and my colleagues at Air India.

Air India’s response should have been much swifter. We fell short of addressing this situation the way it should have been.

The Tata Group and Air India stand by the safety and well-being of our passengers and crew with full conviction. We will review and repair every process to prevent or address any incidents of such unruly nature.

Air India de-rostered the crew pending an investigation.

Four cabin crew and one pilot of Air India were issued show cause notices and de-rostered pending investigation. Air India also launched internal investigations into whether there were lapses by other staff on aspects including the service of alcohol on the flight, incident handling, complaint registration on board and grievance handling.

Shankar Mishra gets fired by Wells Fargo.

The accused, Shankar Mishra, was sacked by his employer, the American financial institution Wells Fargo. In a statement issued by Wells Fargo, they clarified that they are cooperating with Indian law enforcement agencies.

Wells Fargo holds employees to the highest standards of professional and personal behavior and we find these allegations deeply disturbing. This individual has been terminated from Wells Fargo. We are cooperating with law enforcement and ask that any additional inquiries be directed to them.

Air India took to task by National Commission for Women.

The National Commission for Women stepped in. They wrote to the Commissioner of Police, Delhi, to immediately register FIR in the matter under relevant provisions of law and to take strict action against the culprit for causing mental trauma to an elderly woman. The Commission also wrote to the Chairman, Air India Limited, to intervene in the matter and to take appropriate action against the culprit for the horrendous behaviour to an elderly woman on a flight and violating her right to live a life of dignity and safety.

Shankar Mishra arrested.

Once the issue caught wind of the media, a First Information Report was lodged against the passenger by the airline, and Delhi Police went all around looking for him. He was eventually arrested from Bengaluru. He is currently under 14-day Judicial Custody.

Air India slaps a 4-month ban on the accused.

Air India, on Thursday, January 19, 2022, banned Mr Mishra from flying with the airline for four months after an internal committee determined that he was an unruly passenger who allegedly urinated on a co-passenger. As per a statement from Air India Spokesperson,

The independent 3-member Internal Committee under the chairmanship of an ex-District Judge has concluded that Shankar Mishra is covered under the definition of “unruly passenger” and banned from flying for four months as per relevant provisions of Civil Aviation Requirements.

Mr Mishra’s legal representatives have disagreed with the findings of the committee and intend to appeal this decision.

As per the description in the public discourse, the person concerned committed a Level 2 Unruly behaviour. On the basis of Air India’s decision, other airlines can now put Mr Mishra on their no-fly list for up to six months as well.

Air India fined heavily by India’s aviation regulator, DGCA.

The DGCA issued Show Cause notices to the Accountable Manager of M/s Air India, the Director, In-flight services of M/s Air India and all the pilots and cabin crew members of that flight as to why enforcement action should not be taken against them for dereliction of their regulatory obligations. After examining their reply, the DGCA came up with the following enforcement actions:

  1. A Financial Penalty of INR 30,00,000/- (Rupees Thirty Lakh only) has been imposed on Air India for violation of the applicable DGCA Civil Aviation Requirements.
  2. License Suspension of the Pilot-In-Command of the said flight for a period of three months (03 months) for failing to discharge his duties as per Rule 141 of the Aircraft Rules, 1937 and applicable DGCA Civil Aviation Requirements.
  3. A Financial Penalty of INR 3,00,000/- (Rupees Three Lakh only) has been imposed on the Director-in-flight services of M/s Air India for failing to discharge her duties as per applicable DGCA Civil Aviation Requirements.

Air India made a statement where they acknowledged the gaps in their reporting and stated that they are taking relevant steps to ensure that the same are addressed. The airline added that it is strengthening its crew awareness and compliance with policies on the handling of incidents involving unruly passengers.


It is interesting that, in this case, there are different takes with everyone involved. In spite of today’s day and age where every small scuffle on board an aircraft is supported with a video on social media, this incident, which is a pretty big one, I must say, is a version of he said, she said, where the narrative by different people seems different. So, what beats me is the DGCA steps which sound like they were taken too soon. Since the matter was sub-judice, in my view, the court should have first pronounced him guilty, and then DGCA should have then taken that into account for their decision-making as well.

What do you make of this incident, and how various parties acted in this case?

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About Ajay

Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

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  1. Disgusting man and I hope the passenger in receipt of his urine gets free first class travel in future for the rest of her life. I don’t think it matters whether the poor passenger is male or female, young or old it’s totally gross to have someone pee on you. Not sure he should have lost his job but the man is vile. I would be mortified if someone did that to me.

    • Fully agree with Ajay.

      Seems that in a case of he said / she said it is premature of the agencies to slap any sort of fine.

      The woman in question initially accepted the compensation (as per the whatsapp chats) including dry cleaning of her belongings.

      And then suddenly she decides that she’s not satisfied ?

      This is like picking and choosing that “today I will be happy” / “tomorrow I will be sad” in advance.

      The woman here clearly changed her statement due to opportunistic motives.

      That doesn’t sound very victim like.

      If an agreement was mediated between her and the offender and if she wasn’t happy, she could have easily refused and told him I don’t want your money.

      Why did she stay happy for 19 days and on the 20th day she “decided” she’s not happy and return the compensation ?

      The fact that she accepted the initial offer of compensation is evidence that she was fine.

      If she wasn’t fine she could have declined that offer.

      No one was pressurizing her to accept it.

      This delay is crucial to consider if the woman in question is making complaints with oblique motives or not.

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