I'm glad airlines are standing up against parliamentarians behaving badly

After Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad, it was the turn of TDP's JC Diwakar Reddy to face a ban from IndiGo airlines.

 |  4-minute read |   20-07-2017
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IndiGo airlines has lifted the flying ban on JC Diwakar Reddy, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) MP from Andhra Pradesh.

Reddy was banned by IndiGo for his unruly behaviour with the airline staff at the Vishakhapatnam airport on June 15, when he insisted on boarding a flight to Hyderabad despite reaching the airport just 28 minutes prior to departure. Other domestic airlines, including Air India, too stood by IndiGo, and Reddy was put on their no-fly list.

The latest move came after the airlines met Reddy over lunch yesterday (July 19). Following IndiGo's decision, other domestic airlines too revoked the ban.

There has been some noise about the airlines coming under pressure to lift the ban after Reddy approached the Hyderabad High Court demanding it be deemed illegal. But then what more did one expect? 

reddy-body_072017071545.jpgA month's flying ban on a member of Parliament across all domestic airlines is a strong message.

A month's flying ban on a member of Parliament across all domestic airlines is a strong message. It reassures the ordinary citizens that if they are liable for misbehaviour or misconduct on airlines, even a public representative will not be spared and will face the same consequences.

This is unprecedented. 

It happened only once earlier in April when Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad threw a fit on board an Air India flight demanding a business class seat. He manhandled a ground staff (hit him with his slipper "25 times" as he boasted about it later in front of the media) and argued with all his lung power against the airline staff who tried to only pacify him. All this was caught on camera.

It was no less than the national carrier then, charged with ferrying our esteemed members of Parliament (with all the frills and privileges attached) across the country, that decided to keep the MP at arm's length. Other airlines too followed suit. 

Reddy and Gaikwad aren't the only members of Parliament who've thrown their weight around at airports or on board aircrafts.

Earlier, a Jet Airways airhostess had alleged that RJD MP Pappu Yadav had misbehaved with her when she stopped him from dumping his leftover meal in the aircraft aisle. Yadav had allegedly threatened to hit her with his slipper. 

More recently, Pappu Yadav's wife, Ranjeet Ranjan (a Congress MP) was accused of having told an Air Vistara airhostess "dekh lungi tumhe main", when the latter asked her to change a seat on board a Bagdogra-Delhi flight.

The airhostess has alleged that she was terminated because of Ranjan's complaint against her to the Lok Sabha speaker and the Ministry of Civil Aviation. 

It's true that Reddy and Co are back to flying with the airlines they ran amok on, but with the imposition of these recent bans, even if short-lived, airlines have taken a tough stand. They mark an extremely significant and notable chapter in recent "VVIP history". 

The strong sense of entitlement of our public servants/representatives associated with the British Raj and its colonial hangover is slowly being challenged. 

It only goes to show that public sentiment against what is now informally referred to as "VVIP racism", is on the rise, consequently pushing service providers towards making no exceptions. 

Airlines seem to be emboldened to take the high and mighty head-on for any misbehaviour.

The common men equipped with phone cameras, too, have displayed an unprecedented alertness in capturing such images of misbehaviour as well as bad customer service (non-functional ACs included), and promptly circulating them on social media.

The conversation that ensues thereafter puts pressure on airlines to act, and act swiftly. The latter are constantly on their toes now responding to queries and complaints on social media. 

This is a welcome change. A change that was much desired.

Our netas will now have to behave themselves if they want to be treated on a par with the common, civil citizen. And I consciously didn't say a "VVIP"!

Also read: Shiv Sena MP beating up Air India staffer is a case of entitlement Indians suffer


Poulomi Saha Poulomi Saha @poulomimsaha

Associate Editor, India Today Television

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