It’s become a story that doesn’t even merit a cursory raising of the eyebrow. A politician is running late, an aircraft full of people are kept waiting for a few hours; or the politician wants some special treatment, and when it is denied, behaves in a petulant and violent manner. This is followed by some outrage on social media, and then the news fades away. Until the next time a person in a position of authority and power misuses it again. But Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad and Trinamool Congress MP Dola Sen may have helped change all that with their bad behaviour. After Gaikwad’s vicious and violent behaviour on board an Air India flight followed by Sen’s refusal to comply with safety regulations that do not allow elderly people (such as her mother) to be seated next to the emergency exit (in spite of having been offered a business class seat in exchange); the national carrier has proposed a set of standard operating procedures to tackle unruly flyers.
It is high time that we had some guidelines on dealing with the indiscipline of people in power. To have a set of procedures, followed up with swift legal action is a step in the right direction. The rules which include an immediate report to the police and a monetary fine that could go up to Rs. 15 lakh, will hopefully act as a deterrent to bad behaviour in future. This applies not just to politicians and celebrities, but to the several other arrogant, petulant, drunk and disorderly passengers that airline crews have to deal with everyday as well.
Of course, it is important to ensure that there is adequate proof of this bad behaviour and to make certain that airlines do not use it as a tool of discrimination against specific passengers. But to allow unruly and badly behaved passengers to get away with it would be to endanger the safety of other passengers; and delays caused to ordinary people held to ransom by the indiscipline of a few, cost more than just money.