No fly list: Unruly Gaikwad got away with apology; for aam aadmi, govt could bar flying for 2 yrs

Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad beat up an Air India staffer with his slippers last month. This lead to all domestic airlines promptly barring him from flying. This was particularly inconvenient for the MP in a month when he had to frequently travel to Delhi to attend Parliament. He was allowed back aboard only after a weak apology tendered to the Minister of Civil Aviation. So, will the aam aadmi, who may misbehave in a similar fashion while on board, be allowed back after a mere apology?

Gaikwad's actions have pushed the government to now come out with draft regulations to create a national no-fly list.

What could get you on this list of shame? Verbal and or physical abuse, inappropriate touching while on board besides of course damage to the aircraft or other acts of violence.

Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad. Image courtesy: National Portal of India

Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad. Image courtesy: National Portal of India

Will a mere apology set the record straight? Well, this will have to be decided by a 'Standing Committee' which each airline will have to form to decide on individual cases of inappropriate behaviour within 10 days of the incident. The three-member committee will function as a quasi-judicial body and the penalty that can be imposed for inappropriate behaviour in the skies ranging from three months to two years but could also be extended further.

You could get barred from domestic flying forever, depending on the decision of the standing committees within the airline and then the DGCA.

The draft norms are being put up for public consultations and will become the norm in about two months from now.

In tandem with working on the no-fly list, the government is also mulling making some form of identification mandatory at the time of booking tickets under its 'Digi Yatra' initiatives. Will Aadhar card be made mandatory for booking airline tickets and then tracking the flyer for possible inappropriate behaviour while flying?

MoS Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha said today that it has not been finalised whether Aadhar will be mandatory but some form of identification will surely be needed soon.

Remember, there is already a no-fly list of people who have been marked out by India's security agencies as possible security threats and such persons are already barred for life from boarding a domestic flight.

Sinha said, as of now, the new list being prepared would be for domestic airlines but foreign carriers may also use the information if they so desired though it wont be mandatory on them.

Here are the salient features of the proposed no-fly list:

1) The Ministry is proposing three levels of unruly passengers ---- in level I, passengers indulging in disruptive behaviour like making physical gestures and other such activities will be penalised. In level II, passengers indulging in physical abuse, sexual harrassment, etc., are likely to be booked. Those indulging in life threatening behaviour will be booked under level III, the punishment for which could be a ban on flying with the airline (aboard which the act has been committed) for at least two years. Level I and II could see a passenger barred for three and six months respectively.

2) If a passenger is banned by one airline, then it will be left to other domestic airlines to decide on whether they want to fly such a passenger or not. While the ban is proposed only to be applied on domestic airlines, nothing stops foreign airlines from implementing India’s no-fly list if the 'Rights of Carriage Act' of the international airlines also has similar provisions.

3) To implement the no-fly list the Government is also looking to see how they can link a passenger making a domestic airline booking to a common identity card, be it a passport or Aadhar card so that genuine passengers are not harassed.

4) Each airline has to constitute a 'standing committee' comprising of a retired judge, a representative of another airline and another representative from a consumer forum to examine each complaint of unruly behaviour. The passenger accused of such behaviour can also appeal to this committee, which must decide the matter within 10 days.

5) Any aggrieved passenger may then approach the DGCA where again a similar committee will decide on the innocence of the passenger.

This is the existing Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR) which defines an unruly flyer but does not mention any financial penalties. It merely says “passengers who are likely to be unruly and disruptive must be carefully monitored, and if necessary, refused embarkation or off-loaded, if deemed to pose a threat to the safety and security of the flight, fellow passengers or staff while on board aircraft.”

Updated Date: May 05, 2017 15:50 PM

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