Days after a 34-year-old male passenger, in an inebriated condition, urinated on a 70-year-old female co-passenger, the Tata Group-owned Air India has revised its in-flight liquor policy for passengers. 

The revised guidelines say the airline’s crew can refuse further serving of alcohol, if needed, tactfully. "Service of alcoholic beverages must be carried out in a reasonable and safe manner. This includes tactfully refusing to (further) serve a guest alcohol," the policy states.

Guests are also not permitted to drink liquor unless served by the cabin crew. The cabin crew has also been asked to be attentive in identifying guests that bring their own alcohol. 

Over the past few months, the country’s aviation sector has been embroiled into controversies regarding unruly passenger behaviours. Air India has issued a slew of guidelines to the cabin crew to avoid such incidences. The airline asked the cabin crew to "not call passengers, a drunk' but instead warn them their behavior is "unacceptable." The crew has also been asked to not be persuaded "to give them ‘one last drink'" after it is stated the passengers have had enough. 

"Don't raise your voice. If they raise theirs, lower yours... don't put off refusal, act while the guest can still be reasoned with," the revised policy states. "Managing unduly intoxicated patrons must be done assertively and respectfully," it adds.

The crew, says the new policy, has the power to deny boarding to passengers if they believe the passengers' faculties have been intoxicated and that they can potentially present a hazard to the aircraft. "Air India empowers its cabin crew to deny boarding / refuse service of liquor or remove any unconsumed alcohol where a guest is consuming their own and where there are reasonable grounds to believe that guests faculties are impaired by alcohol to an extent that will present a hazard to the aircraft, to persons on board (crew or guests) or to the guest themselves," the policy says.

The new guidelines has been established in line with the alcohol policy by other carriers and inputs from the US National Restaurants Association’s guidelines. 

On Tuesday, Air India termed the licence suspension of the airline’s pilot by the aviation regulator directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) as 'excessive' and that it will be contesting the DGCA's decision regarding the same. 

"Air India wishes to acknowledge the good faith efforts made by crew to handle the situation effectively in real time, when not all facts were available. It also notes that a contemporaneous written statement by a fellow business class passenger includes an explicit commendation of the actions of the cabin crew, and that his criticism of the pilot was in the context of not having been granted an upgrade."

"In light of the mitigating circumstances and the financial detriment already incurred by the crew during their period of de-rostering, Air India deems the license suspension of the Commander excessive and will be assisting him with an appeal," it added. 

 Last week, the DGCA penalised Air India with ₹30 lakh fine and imposed a fine of ₹3 lakh on the director of its in-flight services for an incident in which a male passenger in an inebriated condition allegedly urinated on a woman. The DGCA in its response also suspended the license of the pilot-in-command of the flight concerned for three months.

The 34-year-old man, who is now identified as Shankar Mishra, urinated on a 70-year-old female co-passenger and her seat in an inebriated condition, in the business class of a New York-Delhi Air India flight on November 26, 2022. Despite causing major harassment to the woman, and thus committing a crime, no immediate action was allegedly taken against the accused.

The airline only imposed a ban of one month on Mishra, and later extended it to four months following the suggestion of its internal committee. Taking cognizance of the incident, the DGCA slammed Air India, for its alleged "unprofessional" conduct in dealing with the female passenger.

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