An Air India flight to London was forced to return to Delhi after a passenger allegedly assaulted two members of cabin crew a short time after takeoff on Monday morning.
In a statement, the embattled airline said an unruly passenger ignored both verbal and written warnings prompting the Captain to decide to return to Delhi so that the passenger could be handed over to the police.
Air India flight AI111 departed Delhi at around 6:30 am on Monday for what should have been an eight-hour flight to London Heathrow but the Boeing 787 Dreamliner just over an hour after departure.
Data supplied by flight tracking website Flight Radar 24 shows the roughly nine-and-a-half-year-old aircraft performing a u-turn near Peshawar in Pakistan before returning to New Delhi.
In a statement, the airline said the flight diverted due to the “serious unruly behaviour of a passenger on board.”
“Not heeding to verbal and written warnings, the passenger continued with unruly behaviour including causing physical harm to two of the cabin crew members,” the statement continued.
“The pilot in command decided to return to Delhi and the passenger was handed over to the security personnel upon landing… Safety, security and dignity of all on board is important to us at Air India.”
The spokesperson added that support was being provided to the crew members and that passengers would be accommodated on a rescheduled flight to London on Monday afternoon.
Unruly passenger behaviour has made headlines in India in recent weeks after a slew of unpleasant reports, including a recent incident in which a passenger allegedly vomited in the aisle during a domestic IndiGo flight from Guwahati to Delhi flight.
In January, Air India came under the spotlight for its response to an incident in which a drunk Business Class passenger allegedly urinated on his elderly seatmate on a flight from New York JFK to Delhi.
In that case, the response of the cabin crew and pilots was criticized after they failed to call the police or file a report about the passenger’s behaviour.
Air India’s chief executive Campbell Wilson says the airline has now invested in new reporting software and is providing additional training to pilots and cabin crew.
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.