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This Indian Airline Will Now Allow Female Passengers to Sit Next to Other Women to Promote ‘Girl Power’

This Indian Airline Will Now Allow Female Passengers to Sit Next to Other Women to Promote ‘Girl Power’

a plane on the tarmac

An Indian airline is now giving female passengers the option to sit next to other women by showing a seat map of all the other female passengers onboard during the online check-in process.

According to Equality Now, sexual violence in India is a major problem, with over 32,000 cases of rape recorded in 2019 alone, although it’s believed that the true figure may be much higher than official statistics suggest.

The new check-in feature from low-cost carrier IndiGo comes less than a month after a 28-year-old Spanish tourist was subjected to a brutal gang rape in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand, once again highlighting the issue of sexual violence that seemingly plagues India.

IndiGo said in a statement to Live from a Lounge that the check-in feature was being trialled in an attempt to “make the travel experience more comfortable for our female passengers”.

During the check-in process, female passengers will be presented with a seat map showing pink seats, which indicate where other female passengers are already sitting, easily allowing female passengers to choose a seat next to another female if they wish.

The option to see where female passengers are sat will, however, only be presented to passengers who are recorded as female in the booking process, so this feature shouldn’t allow male passengers to deliberately sit next to a lone female traveller.

A statement from IndiGo continued: “This has been introduced based on market research and is currently in pilot mode aligning with our #GirlPower ethos.”

“The feature offers visibility of seats booked by female passengers, only during web check-in. It is specifically tailored to PNRs with women travellers – solo as well as part of family bookings. We are committed to providing an unparalleled travel experience for all our passengers, and this new feature is just one of the many steps we are taking towards achieving that goal.”

IndiGo isn’t, however, the only Indian airline that offers a special service to help make lone female travellers feel safer when flying. Since 2017, Vistara has offered its ‘Women Flyer’ service, which provides a free escort service to and from ground transportation.

The service also allows female passengers the option to avoid sitting in a middle seat, although Vistara doesn’t currently give female passengers the option to deliberately sit next to another female.

Matt’s take

It’s sad that IndiGo has come to the conclusion that this feature is necessary, but depressingly, it seems like this is a service that female passengers may find really helpful.

Sexual violence is a real issue in India, and simply getting on a plane doesn’t change the fact that sexual predators will attempt to take advantage of someone.

In recent years, we’ve witnessed a real and alarming increase in sexual violence against women on US carriers, with perpetrators often targeting young female victims who have been trapped in a middle seat, unable to escape or easily call for help.

The ability to sit next to other female passengers could be a useful feature for other airlines, although it is a problem that many airlines are probably not likely to admit to.

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