TMC MP Dola Sen's tantrums on Air India: Why politicians must unload their VIP baggage

Not a day after the 'no fly' ban on Ravindra Gaikwad was lifted following a fake apology, another political luminary TMC Rajya Sabha member Dola Sen created a fuss because his companion was a wheelchair person and she wanted her to sit in Row 11 which is an Emergency Exit. This worthy was on Air India's flight from Delhi to Kolkata. You cannot sit in that row if you do not know English, are below 18 or, in any way an individual with special needs. Nor can you keep your luggage there.

These are global rules. English is the language of international aviation and that is why in case of a crisis all instructions to open the Exit and allow the chute to open are primarily given in that language.

Trinamool MP Dola Sen arguing with Air India staff over seating arrangement. News18

Trinamool MP Dola Sen arguing with Air India staff over seating arrangement. News18

Cabin crew have the full right to get you to another seat if they feel your presence in this row is a hazard to other passengers. Even highly overweight persons are denied this row. It is common sense. They will hamper the evacuation. The same goes for the illiterate, or people the aircraft staff feel will not be able to promptly operate the emergency exit system or follow instructions. But, of course, logic and good sense have nothing to do with our political firmament who keep on behaving as if they own these airlines. She kept the flight on ground for 39 minutes while she kicked up a fuss about the seat. Air India even offered to seat the handicapped lady in business class but she refused.

Sen should have been offloaded then and there. The Captain should have exercised his prerogative. Any passenger on that plane would have the right to sue Air India, demand that he or she be allowed to deplane citing the fact the the flight had blocked an emergency exit.

It is bad enough when the drill is performed that even the 'qualified' do not pay attention and would have no clue in case things went wrong. To add to the mess is the unconscionable conduct of a responsible Member of Parliament. The honourable MP must spend some time dwelling on the fact that how is her VIP status more important than the safety parameters of a flight.

The actions taken against these displays of tantrums have no meaning if they are not time-bound. That farcical lifting of the ban on Gaikwad is an indication of Air India's surrender to the political pressure. What it should have done is placed a time limit on the ban as punitive action, irrespective of whether an apology is issued.

This expedient apology after the act is utterly pointless. Frankly, who has Gaikwad said sorry to and what was the texture of this apology? Do you see any sincerity in it? Not a jot.

And unless it was an apology to the Air India staffer who was beaten it is of no consequence and is actually insulting. Say sorry to Sukumar, Mr Gaikwad, he's the one you slapped with your slipper.

By letting him get away with it the cabin crew association has shown very little togetherness and pressure from the top has evidently won.

When it happens again, and it will, put a time frame on the ban...and stick to it.


Published Date: Apr 08, 2017 12:36 pm | Updated Date: Apr 08, 2017 12:37 pm


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