Amid recent incidents of unruly passenger behaviour, Air India has revised its in-flight alcohol service policy, telling cabin crew to tactfully refuse to serve alcohol if necessary.
The airline owned by the Tata group has been hit with fines by DGCA in recent days in connection with the unruly behavior of passengers on board two international flights.
Under the revised policy issued on Jan. 19, guests are not allowed to drink alcohol unless it is served by cabin crew and that cabin crew takes care to identify guests who may be consuming their own alcohol.
“The serving of alcoholic beverages must be conducted in a reasonable and safe manner. This includes tactfully refusing to (further) serve alcohol to a guest,” the policy said.
Air India has also issued a series of ‘do’s and don’ts’ for conscientious objection.
These require cabin crew to be polite and avoid value judgments and use tact to politely inform the guest that you will no longer be serving them alcohol.
According to the policy, “don’t call the guest ‘drunk’ – politely warn them that their behavior is unacceptable” and don’t be persuaded to give them ‘one last drink’ after being told they’ve had enough.
“Don’t raise your voice. If they raise theirs, lower yours…don’t delay the refusal, act while the guest can still be reasoned,” the airline said in the policy.
Furthermore, it told the cabin crew not to think the matter is over because you addressed it verbally. “Managing over-intoxicated customers should be done assertively and respectfully,” it added.
While serving alcoholic beverages to guests is a practice that has been around for many years, the airline said there is however a distinction between consuming alcohol for pleasure and getting drunk as a result of consuming alcohol.
“Air India authorizes its cabin crew to refuse boarding / refuse beverages or remove unconsumed alcohol when a guest drinks their own alcohol and when there are reasonable grounds to believe that guests’ abilities are impaired by alcohol to such an extent that this poses a danger to the aircraft, to persons on board (crew or guests) or to the guest himself,” the policy said.
The serving of alcoholic beverages must be done in a reasonable and safe manner. This includes tactfully refusing to serve a guest alcohol (further), according to the airline.
Guests should not drink alcohol unless it is served by cabin crew and it is important that cabin crew be alert to identifying guests who may be consuming their own alcohol, it added.
In a statement, an Air India spokesperson said the airline has revised its existing in-flight alcohol service policy, citing the practice of other airlines and input from the US National Restaurants Association guidelines.
These were largely in line with Air India’s existing practice, although some adjustments were made for greater clarity, and the NRA’s traffic signal system was added to help the crew recognize and manage potential instances of intoxication.
“The new policy has now been announced to the crew and incorporated into training curricula. Air India remains committed to the safety and well-being of our passengers and cabin crew, including but not limited to the responsible serving of alcohol,” the spokesperson said.
Air India has said the NRA’s traffic light system should be used to spot and control potential drunkenness. Under this system, observations of a guest’s behavior can then be classified as green, yellow or red.
Cabin crew are responsible for checking guests for signs of excessive intoxication and must observe the patron’s speech, coordination, balance and behavior.
“Observations of the guest’s behavior can then be classified as green, yellow or red,” it added.
The carrier has emphasized the importance of distinguishing behavior that is simply a person’s personality trait, such as speaking louder or laughing, and behavior that may be a result of cultural background rather than unruly behavior. A concerned, upset or rude customer is best handled with conflict management techniques to defuse and prevent escalation of the situation.
On the ground, the airline said it should look into whether a guest has symptoms such as slurred speech, unsteady walking, foul language and threatening behavior upon boarding. Any such symptoms should be reported to the Cabin Supervisor/Pilot In Command.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is being published from a syndicated feed.)
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