Irked with his requests for more alcohol being turned down, a passenger travelling on an Air India (AI) flight from Riyadh to Calicut (AI194) on Sunday night vandalised cabin seats and threatened other passengers. According to airline sources, the cabin staff stopped serving liquor to the passenger, Thatethil Nijesh, because he was inebriated.
According to airline officials, Nijesh got angry when the crew told him he was too drunk to handle more alcohol, mid-way into the journey. Despite being warned by the crew, the flier broke the armrests and threatened to assault some flight attendants and co-travellers.
An AI spokesperson said, “A passenger had turned unruly owing to excess consumption of alcohol. After reaching Calicut, our crew handed him over to the Central Industrial Security Force, who took him to the local police station.”
Airline sources said the aircraft may have to be grounded for some time, as a new set of armrests are not available. “Grounding of the plane, coupled with the replacement of the broken armrests, could mean a heavy expense for the airline,” said a senior AI official. The AI spokesperson refused to comment on this observation.
Sources in the cabin crew union said the situation could have been fatal, as the flight did not have adequate attendants. “Handling such a violent traveller, while performing other service duties, was a daunting task for the crew,” said a union member.
This was the second case of a drunk flier creating ruckus on board an international flight from India within a week. On April 23, a woman traveller from Mumbai had complained about being allegedly harassed by an inebriated co-traveller seated behind her.