On Friday, a Belgian woman was taken into custody for allegedly assaulting the Indian ground staff who had stopped her from taking her pet cat on a flight.
At 11.30 am, Melvin Gerard (28) reached the terminal with her infant son, a few bags and a small basket tightly held in her arms. She was checking in for the Jamnagar-bound Flight IC147. At the luggage screener, the cat was out of the bag.
At first, she refused to allow ground staff to screen the basket. As heated words were exchanged, a screener spotted the cat sleeping inside the basket.
The airline staff insisted Gerard follow the procedure — taking the commander’s permission — for carrying pets on board.
An irate Gerard slapped Sujata Neelkanth, the Indian staffer who was trying to explain the policy. Gerard was handed over to the airport police, who have registered a non-cognisable offence. Later, officials of the Belgian embassy took custody of her.
An airline spokesperson said, “Small pets can be carried in the cabin, but the passenger must take the commander’s permission. Only two pets are allowed on any flight. The passenger can be offloaded if other travellers object. Also, the airline charges extra for pets.”