Two air hostesses were posted in the first class section of an Air India flight from Delhi to New York on May 26, as opposed to the airline’s standard operating norm of one.
The only occupant of the four seats in the section was a minister, said on-flight cabin crew members.
“It is clear that senior airline officials made the last minute change in the crew distribution to please the minister. The minister is likely to feel that the airline offers such services to all first class passengers,” said a cabin crew personnel with the airline requesting anonymity.
Sources told the Hindustan Times that a few minutes before take off, Trupti Shah, the crew-in charge, received a call from Captain AS Soman, director of inflight services, to make the change in the allocation of crew on board.
The cabin crewmember added that five air hostesses were struggling to cater to 100 economy class passengers because the airline deputed one extra airhostess at the minister’s duty.
A section of the crew is planning to write to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, the aviation regulator.
“The management is trying to mislead the minister. It wants to portray that two air hostesses are allocated for first class passengers which is not true,” said another cabin crewmember.
The cabin crew has a pending complaint against the airline for operating long-haul flights without the mandatory crew count.
“Many 15-hour long flights are short of cabin staff approved by the aviation regulator. The airline is trying to hide this violation by giving special service to the minister,” added the crewmember.
An Air India spokesperson denied that such an incident took place.