“What she did was a major safety violation. What if the aircraft was hijacked at that moment… or if there was a decompression..”
A Kerala-based businessman has sparked off an online debate after he posted on Facebook the video of an Air India air hostess who, he claimed, was sleeping mid-flight. While his post has drawn heavy flak with many accusing him of violating the privacy of a woman, a section of people have expressed safety concerns over the incident.
K.M. Basheer, president of the Malabar Development Forum, was booked by the Nadakkavu police after the air hostess filed a complaint against him. Basheer was a passenger of AI 998 flight from Sharjah to Kozhikode on March 27.
However, it is not yet clear whether the state police has jurisdiction to register a case in an incident which happened about 50,000 feet above the ground.
Nadakkavu police said they had already transferred the case to Karipur police station under which the Kozhikode international airport falls. However, when contacted by THE WEEK on Friday, the Karipur police ruled out receiving any file relating to this case so far. The businessman also said he had not received any communication from the police.
Despite a huge social media outrage, Basheer doesn’t seem prepared to take it on the chin. Talking to THE WEEK, he went to the stake to defend himself, saying he released the video as his complaint that he made to Air India chief Ashwani Lohani five months ago elicited no response. He also dismissed allegations of violating modesty and privacy of the air hostess and said the woman had covered her entire body with two blankets.
“Distance between Sharjah to Kozhikode is just 1,600 nautical miles and the travel time is nearly three and a half hours. Cabin crew in the flight in such a short distance are not supposed to sleep during the journey, unlike in the case of long distance, international flights that have special facilities for crew members to take rest,” he said. Referring to the recent incident of crash-landing of an Emirates flight at Dubai airport, Basheer said that cabin crew should always be prepared to handle any emergency situation.
Our e-mail queries to the Air India officials remained unanswered.
However, does Basheer’s arguments have more holes than Swiss cheese? Was he right in filming a woman without her consent and putting it on social media? Going by the criticism, abuse and trolls that have flooded his Facebook account over the last couple of days, Basheer has really stirred up an hornet's nest.
Sree Parvathi, a senior journalist and writer said the person should have gone to the airline authorities with his complaint instead of publishing the video on a public platform. She trashed Basheer's contention that the woman had completely covered her body, and questioned his intention of taking the video which showed her face.
While many disagreed with Basheer's action of posting the video on Facebook, they also raised concerns over the violation of safety norms by the flight crew.
“What she did was a major safety violation. What if the aircraft was hijacked at that moment… or if there was a decompression..”, asked a Mumbai-based air hostess working with a private airlines on condition of anonymity. She, however, agreed that taking video of another person without his or her consent was wrong.
“You have proper rest areas like crew bunks to take rest. But what I see in the video is that the lady is asleep on the jumpseat which is strictly not allowed,” she said.
“We always have assist crew to take over work position in case of lean incapacitation of any primary crew member,” she said on being asked about the eventuality of a cabin crew member falling sick.
Ashwin, a Chennai-based businessman and a frequent flyer, however, doesn’t see it as a major issue. “Unless you are in a coma, I don’t think you will be sleeping during an emergency,” he said on being asked about the level of alertness that cabin crew should have to handle an emergency situation.
“People from Kerala always make mountains out of molehills,” he said.