Union civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia on Thursday said a police complaint has been filed against those who were involved in the scuffle in the Thai Smile Airway flight.

“With regard to the scuffle between passengers on @ThaiSmileAirway flight, a police complaint has been filed against those involved. Such behaviour is unacceptable,” he said.

Over the past week, a video went viral on social media regarding a scuffle that broke out among some Indian passengers in a Thai Smile Airway flight en route from Bangkok to India. 

The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security has filed a complaint regarding the scuffle. Zulfiquar Hasan, the director general of BCAS said, “BCAS has examined all reports from various entities, including those on social media and has taken a serious view of the incident. It has filed a police case under appropriate sections against all involved in the jurisdictional police station in Bidhannagar, West Bengal. The police has already started its investigations. Further action shall follow.”

What led to scuffle

The fight reportedly broke out after a passenger refused to adjust his seat to an upright position, as part of the flight safety instructions. Despite the flight crew repeatedly telling the passenger to adjust his seat to an upright position, he refused. Following this, another passenger got into an argument with him, which later led to fighting between the two passengers. 

In the video, five to six passengers were seen hitting the said passenger after the verbal spat. As the crew and other passengers tried to stop the fight, the passenger attempted to defend himself. 

The airline, in its report, said the flight take-off was delayed after the captain was made aware of the incident. The crew also ensured those passengers who were involved in the scuffle went back to their respective seats before the flight took off for Kolkata. 

“THAI Smile Airways feels sorry for this. We reaffirm that the incident has been taken care of as we followed the flight safety procedures in accordance with international standards. Our flight crews have already provided support to the persons affected by an incident,” the airline tweeted.

What rules say

According to the aircraft safety rules, 1937, any act that is likely to endanger the safety of an aircraft is a punishable offence. The extent of punishment ranges from two years of imprisonment to fine of up to ₹10 lakh. The punishable offence includes assault, intimidation or threatening by passengers, which can be either physical or verbal to a crew member, that may interfere with the performance of the duties of the crew member or lessens the ability of the crew member to perform those duties. 

As per the aircraft safety rules, “No person shall interfere with the pilot or with a member of the operating crew of an aircraft, or tamper with the aircraft or its equipment or conduct himself in a disorderly manner in an aircraft or commit any act likely to imperil the safety of an aircraft or its passengers or crew.”

A passenger can be classified as unruly if he/she refuses to follow “a lawful instruction given by the Pilot-in-Command, or on behalf of the Pilot-in-Command by a crew member, for the purpose of ensuring the safety of the aircraft or of any person or property on board or for the purpose of maintaining good order and discipline on board.”

In a similar incident last week, an IndiGo flight attendant got into a verbal spat with a passenger after he used a derogatory term against the crew members. The video of that incident also went viral on social media.

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