Within a matter of a few days, Indians have proudly represented themselves in air travel, thanks to two embarrassing incidents of verbal and physical fights. While the IndiGo flight from Istanbul to New Delhi saw a passenger calling a flight attendant a “servant” and then getting a taste of his own medicine, the more recent Thai Smile flight saw two men raising their hands at each other while saying “haath neeche kar”.
2022 was filled with several of such mid-air clashes.
1. Actor Aarya Babbar and GoFirst pilot getting petty over a petty joke
In February, Hindi-Punjabi actor Aarya Babbar uploaded a nearly 4-minute-long video on his Instagram while traveling on a Go First (formerly Go Air) flight. Even though Babbar was smiling under his facemask, the conversation led to a fight that can be best described as petty.
The actor began recording his experience as he was called to the cockpit. And then a strange inquisition starts as the pilot asks Babbar if he cracked a joke on him. “I heard you say ‘yeh kya chalayega (how will he fly the plane?).”
Babbar justified his stance saying that he was just jokingly remarking to his friend, “I only told him ‘Bhai ye abhi aaye hai? (Did he just arrive?)'.” And then the offended pilot went on ranting (although in a calm manner) on how Babbar shouldn’t make such jokes on his flying capabilities! A sheerly random exchange of words followed, with Babbar saying that he didn’t crack any offensive joke and it was meant to be a personal remark with his friend.
Even when the pilot finally decided to quit his schooling antics and offered a hand for a truce, Babbar went on to say, “This won’t go down easy. You wish to show your power and you want me to get up from my seat and come over here and talk to you when you have a problem.”
The Insta post finally went up with the caption “Sensitive Pilot”!
2. California man punches American Airlines flight attendant
American Airlines Flight 377 took off in September with cries of “Oh my god” and “What are you doing” echoing throughout the aircraft. It all started when 33-year-old Alexander Tung Cuu Le began misbehaving with the flight attendants, asking for coffee while the staff were involved in distributing food and beverages.
✨🇺🇸 On an air flight in the U.S. some I don't want to even say some man because this is not a man so some punk 😎punches the flight attendant in the head he had to be restrained and arrested upon landing ~— Steven Thomas (@aNdr0iz) September 24, 2022
🤞🥳🤞#USA #Airlines #Airline #New #News #AmericanAirlines #aviation pic.twitter.com/egqaCgUie8
Cuu Le asked for coffee with a flight attendant asking him to wait for some time. The Westminster, California resident began getting more impatient, eventually occupying an empty first-class row. When the staff began requesting him to get back to his seat, verbal threats followed.
As a male flight attendant decided to walk away from the troublemaker, Cuu Lee ran from behind and struck him down with a punch on his head.
The man was quickly arrested after the flight landed, charged with one count of interference with flight crew members. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison. And also, it goes without saying that he has been permanently banned from flying with the airlines.
3. Spirit Airlines employee suspended for fighting female passenger in airport
This flight took place in the airport itself, Texas’s Dallas Fort Worth Airport, to be precise. Unlike the grainy footage that is captured in such scenarios, the altercation between a Spirit Airlines employee and a female passenger in August was captured by a professional cinematographer with National Geographic experience!
Thomas Shannon captured the splat (the video of which can't be shared here as most of the YouTube uploads are age restricted, but you can see one here) as viewers get a glimpse of the ugly dispute that took place near the departure gates. The fight apparently started over a problem with seating on a flight. When the female customer began getting aggressive and even hurling homophobic slurs, the male employee began accusing her of invading his private space and threatening him.
The matter soon turned ugly with both charging towards each other. When a male bystander tried to intervene, the Spirit Airlines employee told him to back off with equal aggression.
As soon as the videos went viral, the Internet was quick to take sides with both parties getting their own share of supporters. Even though Spirit Airlines suspended the man, no one was taken into custody as both parties were released from the scene after being interviewed by airport authorities.
4. IndiGo flight attendant shouts back at insensitive passenger
This December, IndiGo began trending on the news thanks to the viral video of a flight attendant and a passenger indulging in an intense verbal splat. The woman could be heard asking the passenger to not treat her like a servant, a situation that got more context when another fellow passenger Tejasvi Chandela posted her observations on social media.
In an Instagram post, Chandela mentioned that some of the passengers on the Istanbul-Delhi flight were ill-mannered towards the crew. To quote her post,
Following the fight, Indigo Airlines issued a statement and added that it was looking into the incident. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is also involved now and will be investigating the incident with the necessary action.
5. Street fight onboard a Thai Smile flight
The latest entry to this list comes from a Thai Smile flight from Bangkok to Kolkata on December 26. Interestingly, none of the Thai Smile Airways flight attendants were directly involved in this altercation. Rather, it was a full-fledged brawl between the passengers themselves.
When a man seated in 37C and dressed in a dark blue shirt refused to make his sight upright before takeoff, the flight staff could also not convince him to follow protocol. All of a sudden, a “male saviour” showed up and began indulging in a fistfight. Soon, Mr Blue Shirt was hounded by other men who began to slap and punch him from all directions.
Note that the airplane had still not taken off. So, what did the Thai Smile staff do? They acted like nothing happened and the men continued travelling to their destination.
Now, in the wake of the “hathapai” going viral, Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia tweeted that a police complaint has been filed against the men involved. Meanwhile, Thai Smile has also submitted a report of flight disturbance to the Aviation Authority of India citing that the passenger in 37 C refused to follow safety guidelines.