Air India cabin crew have been ordered to steer clear of airport Duty Free shops because they are spending so much time shopping that they are delaying flight departures.
The order comes just a couple of weeks after Indian conglomerate Tata Sons took Air India into private ownership for the first time in decades. The Indian government has been trying to offload the loss-making carrier for years and its new owners are focusing on some quick fixes to turn Air India around.
Top of the agenda, it appears, is Air India’s woeful on-time performance – a metric of how many flights actually depart at or within a close range of the scheduled time. Cabin crew have immediately come under the spotlight for causing unnecessary delays.
As well as a new shopping ban, cabin crew have also been told not to wear so much jewellery as they pass through airport security as the amount of metal is causing many crew members to be plucked out of the line for time-consuming secondary security checks.
Once they are finally on board the aircraft, crew have been ordered to forego eating or drinking until passengers have boarded so that they are available in the cabin to help stow luggage and get the boarding process moving.
Cabin crew have also been reminded not to delay boarding if it can be helped and to get the main cabin door closed as soon as possible.
Just before Air India was privatised, the airline upset cabin crew by introducing new ‘weight police’ who have been told to pluck crew out of the check-in line and subject them to BMI checks.
The measure is part of updated uniform and grooming guidelines that have been introduced in an attempt to make crew look more professional.
A cabin crew union warned that subjecting flight attendants to weight checks just before departure could have a detrimental effect on their mental health.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.