COVID-19 effect: DGCA issues new rules for airlines on handling unruly flyers on board

New Delhi, Jun 24 (PTI) Aviation regulator DGCA on Wednesday issued new rules for airlines and their cabin crew members for handling unruly passengers on board, stating that increased stress on flyers due to new procedures in place amid the COVID-19 pandemic may lead to a rise in disputes between them and cabin crew members.

Cabin crew members must be made aware of the new issues that may arise like passengers refusing to wear face masks or coverings in flights, fighting among passengers due to their ethnicity or country of residence or due to the presence of symptoms similar to those associated with COVID-19, the DGCA noted in its circular.  'The operators (airlines) should define SOP (standard operating procedure) for on board handling of unruly passengers in COVID-19 environment,' said the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

An increase in cases of unruly or disruptive passengers should be expected, either prior to departure or in-flight, it added.

The regulator told the airlines to communicate their policy on handling unruly passengers as widely as possible, including on its website, during ticket purchase, check-in process, etc.

For identification, prevention and management of unruly passengers in the context of COVID-19, operators should develop in-flight procedures to manage such situations and develop 'associated training procedures' to train and sensitise the cabin crew, the DGCA said.

'Due to the operations in COVID-19 environment, there may be increased stress imposed on passengers due new processes in place which may lead to increased disputes between passengers or with the crew,' the DGCA noted.

'Such behaviour, in the context of pressures imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, may be less aggressive or intrusive than the normally exhibited unruly behaviour, hence extra attention and steps need to be devoted for the prevention and management of unruly passengers,' it noted. PTI DSP RDM RDM