Air India to launch women-only seats after sexual harassment reports

Plastic handcuffs have also been issued to cabin crew

Will Worley@willrworley
Sunday 15 January 2017 20:43
Air India introduced the changes after a spate of sexual assaults on board its planes
Air India introduced the changes after a spate of sexual assaults on board its planes

Women’s only seats are to be introduced on Air India flights, following a spate of sexual harassment reports on the carrier’s flights.

Plastic handcuffs will also be issued to flight crew to restrain "totally out of control" passengers.

From 18 January, six economy class seats will be solely dedicated to female travellers.

"We feel, as national carriers, it is our responsibility to enhance comfort level to female passengers," said Air India’s Meenakshi Mali.

"There are a lot of female passengers who travel alone with us and we will be blocking a few seats for them."

No extra cost will be imposed on the seats.

While some people praised Air India’s decision, others felt it was the wrong approach.

"It is an impractical move and will lead to gender discrimination," national president of Air Passengers Association of India Sudhakara Reddy told The Hindu. "The airline should not go ahead with the plan."

Air India has a mixed record with regards to gender equality. On International Women’s Day in 2016, the carrier’s Flight 173 became the longest flight in history staffed only by women.

However, the carrier also drew criticism in 2015 after it announced it was grounding 125 overweight cabin crew members including air hostesses. The company said it was important to maintain a good level of fitness for safety reasons. In 2009 Air India fired nine air hostesses for being "overweight", saying their shape could "impair agility".

And in 2004 the airline generated outrage after saying air hostesses should not have any scars, acne, or any major marks on the face.

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