Air India pee-gate: Tata Sons accepts mistake, promises review

Tata Sons chairman N Chandrasekaran admitted that Air India crew failed to address the situation after a drunken corporation executive urinated on an elderly woman on a New York-Delhi flight in November last year.

NEW DELHI | Updated: 09 January, 2023 6:04 pm IST
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Tata Sons chairman N Chandrasekaran on Monday admitted that Air India crew failed to address the situation after a drunken corporation executive urinated on an elderly woman on a New York-Delhi flight in November last year.

In a statement, Chandrasekaran accepted “inadequate response” by the Tata Group-owned airline, calling the shocking incident as a “matter of personal anguish”.

“The incident on Air India flight Al102 on November 26th, 2022, has been a matter of personal anguish to me and my colleagues at Air India. Air India’s response should have been much more swift. We fell short of addressing this situation the way it should have been,” he said in a statement.

The Tata Sons chairman further said, “The Tata Group and Air India stand by the safety and well-being of our passengers and crew with full conviction. We will review and repair every process to prevent or address any incidents of such unruly nature.”

On November 26, accused Shankar Mishra urinated on the woman, in her 70s, after over drinking alcohol served by Air India crew in the business class of the flight. However, the incident came to light in late December. He was later sacked by his US-based employer and arrested by a team of Delhi Police from Bengaluru on January 6.

In her complaint, the woman alleged that the airline crew did not allocate her another seat and forced her to sit on the soiled seat, which was “reeking of urine”. She also said that crew members did not apply judgement while serving liquor to the accused.

Calling the conduct of crew members “deeply unprofessional”, she said that she was made to negotiate and confront the perpetrator.

As Air India came under severe criticism, India’s air regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) issued a notice to Air India, asking why action should not be taken against some officials for dereliction of duty during the incident. As per the DGCA, prima facie, it had emerged that provisions related to handling the Mumbai resident were not complied with.

Narrating her ordeal, the complainant said, “Shortly after lunch was served and the lights were switched off, a male business class passenger seated in 8A walked to my seat, completely inebriated. He unzipped his pants, urinated on me, and kept standing there until the person sitting next to me tapped him and told him to go back to his seat, at which point he staggered back to his seat.”

“I immediately got up to notify the stewardess of what had happened. My clothes, shoes and bag were soaked in urine. The bag contained my passport, travel documents and currency. The flight staff refused to touch them, sprayed my bag and shoes with disinfectant, and took me to the bathroom and gave me a set of airline pyjamas and socks,” she alleged.

She further said, “I asked the staff for a change of seat, but was told that no other seats were available. However, another business class passenger who had witnessed my plight and was advocating for me pointed out that there were seats available in first class. The flight crew told me that the pilot had vetoed giving me a seat in first class.”

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