Cabin crew members that operated an Air India Mumbai-Newark flight on March 10 have complained that they developed medical complications because they were not given the kind of rest they are entitled to on such flights.
Civil aviation rules in India make it mandatory for airlines to provide five hours of sleep to crew operating ultra-long haul flights (with a duty time of more than 16 hours).
According to a complaint filed by the All India Cabin Crew Association (AICCA), on March 10, the crew was asked to rest in economy class seats initially given to passengers, instead of the bunk beds in the business class section they normally use.
The confusion arose after a last-minute change in aircraft left the airline with no seats designated for crew rest.
The union’s complaint (a copy of which is available with the Hindustan Times) claimed that the crew was sleep-deprived and fatigued by the end of the journey and that some of them had suffered from edema (fluid retention) from the lack of sleep. They blamed the economy class seats for the medical condition.
The complaint also states that when the crew warned the management about the violation they were told that airline had sought dispensation from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
“The management refused to show written orders of the dispensation,” said a cabin crew member requesting anonymity.
The move also allegedly invited passengers’ ire. “The passengers left the seats after the commander made two announcements, but the crew had to bear with their taunts and abusive language,” said a cabin crew member, requesting anonymity.
An AICCA member alleged that passengers kept waking up the crew as they were unaware of rest period rules.
An AI spokesperson said they could comment on the matter only on Monday as the airline’s office was shut on Sunday.