Tired of looking at unmasked or chin guarded people on your packed flight? As India picks up on domestic aviation, passengers on domestic airlines frequently find people not sticking with mask discipline on board. A Delhi High Court Judge onboard a Kolkata – Delhi flight of Air India on March 5, 2021, noticed this mask fatigue and talked to the cabin crew only to hear about their helplessness.
The judge asked DGCA to empower the airline crews to deal with this situation. DGCA issued a circular to authorise appropriate penalty at the airport and in the aircraft for erring passengers. Here is the circular.
If such an erring passenger makes it to the aircraft and refuses to wear a mask, they can be deboarded before take-off. However, suppose the passenger, mid-air, refuses to mask up after sufficient warnings from the flight crew. In that case, the new rules authorise crew onboard to treat them as “unruly passengers”, which essentially allows airline(s) to put them on a no-fly list as per 2017 issued rules. Per the rules, passengers will be barred from flying for anywhere between three months to two years.
Also, we did not have to wait long to see these rules in action.
Air India’s regional arm, Alliance Air, which operates the turboprops for Air India, on Tuesday, March 16, 2021, has put four passengers travelling on the Jammu to Delhi flight, 9I 614, as unruly passengers, and hence, put them on the no-fly list. Reportedly, the four passengers were declared “unruly” after they refused to put on their masks despite repeated requests from the cockpit crew and cabin crew of this flight.
After the flight landed at Delhi Airport, the four passengers were met by the security agencies, and they were handed over to them.
In another case, IndiGo handed over a passenger flying on their flight from Delhi to Goa, who created a ruckus about wearing disposable PPE on board, and then continued to remove her mask while on board. She was handed over to the police on arrival in Goa. AirAsia India offloaded two passengers from its Goa – Mumbai flight for not wearing the PPE before take-off.
Brace for stricter rules as the airlines get a free rein to put passengers on no-fly lists or take other strict steps against passengers who don’t comply with existing regulations on CoVid-19 and fly without masks. The next time you set foot on a domestic flight in India, make sure to keep your nose to chin covered with a mask you bring from home or one that the airline hands you over before you leave the departure gate.
What are your thoughts on the new harsher penalties for not wearing a mask on a plane in India?
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