Air India Gets Bizarre Punishment For Pee-Gate Incident

Air India Gets Bizarre Punishment For Pee-Gate Incident

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Remember the story of how a man urinated on a woman in business class on a long haul Air India flight? Well, Air India is now finally being held accountable. However, the punishment is a real head-scratcher…

Indian regulators fine Air India, punish captain

India’s aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), has made a ruling regarding how Air India will be punished for the viral incident that happened in November 2022:

  • Air India will be fined three million rupees (~$37,000) for how it handled this situation
  • Air India’s director of inflight service will be fined 300,000 rupees (~$3,700) for poor training procedures
  • The flying license of the captain of the flight will be suspended temporarily

As a reminder, earlier this month a story went viral about what allegedly happened in business class on a November 2022 Air India flight from New York to Delhi. According to a woman seated in business class, shortly after the initial lunch service and after the lights were switched off, another passenger walked to her seat inebriated, unzipped his pants, “relieved himself,” and “continued to expose his private parts.”

While the incident as such was bad, what was even worse was how the airline handled it. The crew allegedly just put a blanket on the seat and advised the passenger to continue sitting there for the rest of the flight. Furthermore, the airline didn’t call authorities, or attempt to punish the man for what he did.

The story only went viral weeks after the fact, because the woman reportedly wasn’t getting anywhere by contacting Air India, so she went to the media. Pretty quickly, the person behind the incident was identified as a Wells Fargo employee, and he was terminated. Not only that, but he was arrested and is facing criminal charges.

My take on Air India’s punishment for this incident

I think it’s totally fair for the DGCA to punish Air India for this incident. $37,000 doesn’t seem like a major fine for an airline of Air India’s size, but then again, I imagine the bad publicity Air India has received will be enough to make the carrier change its protocols.

What I find ridiculous is that the DGCA is suspending the flying license of the captain of the flight… really?! Imagine spending your whole career working your way up to being a Boeing 777 captain, only to have your license suspended temporarily because of something that happened in the cabin on one of your flights.

Furthermore, fining the actual head of inflight service seems extreme as well. At the end of the day they’re following the instructions of higher leadership, so it seems to me like if anyone should be held accountable, it should be those higher up.

It seems like the DGCA is just trying to do anything it can to make it seem like the situation is being taken seriously, even if the punishment doesn’t fit the crime.

Bottom line

Air India is being punished by India’s aviation regulators over the November 2022 inflight urination incident. While I think it’s fair to fine the airline $37,000, what I find ridiculous is that the captain’s flying license has been revoked.

What do you make of this punishment for Air India?

Conversations (16)
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  1. Mark Guest

    Did you follow the entire story?? The Captain was negligent and made a decision of that more trauma to that lady’s situation. First he voted against giving the 70 old lady an empty seat in First class - because of this the crew asked her sit back in the urine soak business class seat and later the option to sit in the tiny uncomfortable crew seat used during landing. Second, the Captain did not take...

    Did you follow the entire story?? The Captain was negligent and made a decision of that more trauma to that lady’s situation. First he voted against giving the 70 old lady an empty seat in First class - because of this the crew asked her sit back in the urine soak business class seat and later the option to sit in the tiny uncomfortable crew seat used during landing. Second, the Captain did not take any action or file a complaint. He and everyone else responsible needs to be held accountable else such incidents will become a norm. If an airline captain behaved like this in any other country they would have been punished more severely.

  2. iamhere Guest

    People who are not really directly responsible for controling the situation were punished....

  3. Sam_slayer Guest

    The fine on the captain is right. Reporting of all incidents in India depend upon the captain , Non-Reporting of an indident like this is also on the captain

    Fining the director of inflight experience makes sense. Handling scenes like this should have some protocol , but I doubt any such protocol exists. Indian govt rarely holds people in specific roles accountable. This is a step in the right direction.

    The fine on the airline is a pittance

  4. Cody Guest

    The reason the Pilot got tagged is Cabin supervisor was asked by passenger if she could change the seat, supervisor as there were no more seats available in business class but only in first - didn't want to take call on her own so she asked pilot who took 2 hours to reply. So, the supervisor informed to passenger that she couldn't do anything about it. When lady asked for another seat again - she...

    The reason the Pilot got tagged is Cabin supervisor was asked by passenger if she could change the seat, supervisor as there were no more seats available in business class but only in first - didn't want to take call on her own so she asked pilot who took 2 hours to reply. So, the supervisor informed to passenger that she couldn't do anything about it. When lady asked for another seat again - she was threatened and forced to sit on the same seat.

    The Supervisor got fined because he broke the law - He tried to make the lady (being treated as coercion by the law) forgive the passenger and acted as mediator (which is illegal and unethical) as perpetrator was directly put in proximity of the victim. He just took written apology from the passenger.

    Airline got tagged because they failed to take appropriate steps before Women right commission in India started making calls on behalf of the lady which lead to current media backlash

    1. Sean M. Diamond

      Except the cabin supervisor was neither charged nor fined.

  5. Srini A Guest

    This is what one of the news article in India says:
    The allegations against the commander as well as the crew members are, that they did not carry out the dereliction of duties assigned to them in line with the DGCA norms. The allegations against the commander-in-charge are that he did not shift the 72-year-old woman to another seat, even when vacant seats were available in the business class.

  6. Robert D Guest

    “Furthermore, fining the actual head of inflight service seems extreme as well. At the end of the day they’re following the instructions of higher leadership, so it seems to me like if anyone should be held accountable, it should be those higher up.”
    Wouldn’t the head of inflight service be a position fairly high up in the organization?

  7. Pete Guest

    Did the incident really occur as mentioned or was it just a case of the older lady having a bladder incident.? And to cover that, some innocent person was blamed for the fiasco. And put down to drunkenness?

    1. Suresh Guest

      While it is correct to not consider the accused guilty until proven, it is more wrong to do victim blaming and shaming. Are you generalizing that all old ladies have continence or finding and excuse to defend that man. What if someone generalized that this man thought old woman is weak and that’s why chose to urinate on her instead of another male passenger? What if he knew that if he exposed his private parts...

      While it is correct to not consider the accused guilty until proven, it is more wrong to do victim blaming and shaming. Are you generalizing that all old ladies have continence or finding and excuse to defend that man. What if someone generalized that this man thought old woman is weak and that’s why chose to urinate on her instead of another male passenger? What if he knew that if he exposed his private parts to a younger women he would be facing sexual harassment charges. What if he had a fetish of peeing in front of older ladies? Anyone can speculate and escalate the situation but that doesn’t help. Maybe it’s as simple as stated that he could not handle his alcohol and after his bladder full after 4 drinks and in his drunken state he pissed on the woman thinking he was in the bathroom. While his intentions were not bad, as an adult he should be held accountable for this actions and the court should decide not the general public like us. Media did right in bringing attention to this case but it was wrong to expose his identity before all the facts came in.

  8. Donna Diamond

    All appropriate punishments at least from what has been publicly disclosed. The captain at the very least engaged in a coverup by not reporting it to either the authorities or the airline. The message to the traveling public is that Air India, it’s crew and worst, it’s captain, couldn’t care less if you get pissed on in their business class cabin by a drunk passenger.

  9. IrishAlan Member

    All of the cabin crew working that section of the cabin should have been fired. It would send out a strong message to not severe passengers that amount of alcohol and more importantly to NOT try to downplay a male passenger urinating on a female passenger. Those crew aren’t much better humans than him.

    1. Sean M. Diamond

      @IrishAlan - Have you actually read the crew reports? There remains significant doubt as to whether the incident occured as alleged. Something happened for sure, but what happened and what the accused's role in that was is still undetermined.

  10. trojans Guest

    Pilot was fined as he intervened and denied permission to move the affected pax to an open F seat(from a J).
    Poor judgement - allowing senior person to sit in crew jump seat but not allowing her to move to the only available F seat.

  11. Aman Guest

    Seems like Air India is trying to out do emirates by offering golden showers in business in lieu of actual showers in first.
    I flew air India recently to Singapore and the entire cabin smelt like a urinal. No wonder the guy mistook the ladies seat for the toilet in his inebriated state.
    Frankly, Air India should have fired the crew and director of inflight services- what on earth were they thinking serving...

    Seems like Air India is trying to out do emirates by offering golden showers in business in lieu of actual showers in first.
    I flew air India recently to Singapore and the entire cabin smelt like a urinal. No wonder the guy mistook the ladies seat for the toilet in his inebriated state.
    Frankly, Air India should have fired the crew and director of inflight services- what on earth were they thinking serving so much alcohol to a passenger? And why didn’t they handover this gentleman to the police when the aircraft landed.
    The fine seems weird- Air India gets a paltry 37k while the employees personally are facing penalties that are far more impactful for them. I am not even sure if this is enforceable legally.

  12. Sean M. Diamond

    The sanctions have not been levied for the incident (the exact facts of which are still not quite clear), but rather for the failure of the company, the pilot and the director of in-flight services to report to DGCA that an incident did take place at all.

  13. Aka Guest

    I Read , Licence suspended for 3 Months.

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Sean M. Diamond

The sanctions have not been levied for the incident (the exact facts of which are still not quite clear), but rather for the failure of the company, the pilot and the director of in-flight services to report to DGCA that an incident did take place at all.

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Sean M. Diamond

@IrishAlan - Have you actually read the crew reports? There remains significant doubt as to whether the incident occured as alleged. Something happened for sure, but what happened and what the accused's role in that was is still undetermined.

2
Aman Guest

Seems like Air India is trying to out do emirates by offering golden showers in business in lieu of actual showers in first. I flew air India recently to Singapore and the entire cabin smelt like a urinal. No wonder the guy mistook the ladies seat for the toilet in his inebriated state. Frankly, Air India should have fired the crew and director of inflight services- what on earth were they thinking serving so much alcohol to a passenger? And why didn’t they handover this gentleman to the police when the aircraft landed. The fine seems weird- Air India gets a paltry 37k while the employees personally are facing penalties that are far more impactful for them. I am not even sure if this is enforceable legally.

2
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