Amid outrage over the mid-air urination incident on a New York-Delhi Air India flight in November last year, the airline said on Tuesday that it has reviewed its existing in-flight alcohol service policy taking reference from other carriers' practice and input from the US National Restaurants Association's (USNRA) guidelines.
"These (guidelines) were largely in line with Air India’s existing practice, though some adjustments have been made for better clarity, and NRA’s Traffic Light system included to help crew recognise and manage possible cases of intoxication," the airline added.
The new policy has now been promulgated to the crew and included in training curricula, the Tata-owned airline said. "Air India remains committed to the safety and well-being of our passengers and cabin crew, including but not limited to the responsible service of alcohol," an airline spokesperson said.
According to the revised policy, guests should not be permitted to drink alcohol unless served by the cabin crew and the cabin crew be attentive to identifying guests that might be consuming their own alcohol. Service of alcoholic beverages must be carried out in a reasonable and safe manner. This includes tactfully refusing to further serve a guest alcohol.
Air India has also issued a set of 'do's and don'ts' of service refusal. These require the cabin crew to be polite and avoid value judgements and use tact to politely inform the guest you will not serve them any more alcohol.
"Don't call the guest a 'drunk' - warn them politely that their behaviour is unacceptable" and don't be persuaded to give them 'one last drink' after it is stated that they have had enough. "Don't raise your voice. If they raise theirs, lower yours... don't put off refusal, act while the guest can still be reasoned with," the airline said in the policy.
The airline has told cabin crew that they should not think the matter is over because they have verbally addressed it. "Managing unduly intoxicated patrons must be done assertively and respectfully."
The airline said there is a distinction between consuming alcohol for pleasure and becoming intoxicated as a result of consuming alcohol. Air India has empowered its cabin crew to deny boarding/refuse service of liquor or remove any unconsumed alcohol where a guest is consuming their own and where there are reasonable grounds to believe that guests faculties are impaired by alcohol to an extent that will present a hazard to the aircraft, to persons on board (crew or guests) or to the guest themselves.
Air India recently faced criticism after a male passenger, 34-year-old Shankar Mishra, allegedly urinated upon a fellow female co-flyer in the business class of a flight from New York to Delhi on November 26, 2022. The female passenger in her two-page statement said the male passenger was "completely inebriated". She also blamed the crew saying they "did not show good judgment about how much alcohol to serve a passenger".
However, a person in the know told India Today TV that there is no restriction on serving alcohol in business and first class and hence the crew cannot be blamed for serving a passenger. In economy, airlines serve two drinks as per rules but that can go up to four drinks if the crew deems the passenger can hold his or her drink. But they cannot stop drinks for passengers in business and first class.
(With inputs from PTI)
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