A woman allegedly slapped an IndiGo executive manning a check-in counter at Calcutta airport on Wednesday morning when she was refused a boarding pass for arriving late to catch a Guwahati-bound flight.
Seema Yadav, 28, from Kakinara in North 24-Parganas, was arrested and charged with assault and abuse based on a complaint by the airline. She has since been granted bail.
An officer at the airport police station said Seema and her seven-year-old son were booked on a flight scheduled for take-off at 11.15am but didn’t arrive for check-in until well after the deadline of 45 minutes before departure.
“She turned up at the check-in counter at 10.45am, which is 30 minutes before the Calcutta-Guwahati flight was to take off,” the officer said.
IndiGo employee Madhura Guha, who was at the counter, told the police that she politely informed Seema that issuing boarding passes half an hour before take-off would be a violation of the rules framed by the directorate-general of civil aviation (DGCA).
“The passenger refused to listen and demanded a boarding pass each for herself and her son. She told the employee at the counter that it was her right to board a flight for which she had bought tickets,” an IndiGo official said, quoting the colleague she allegedly assaulted. “She declined the offer of seats on the next Guwahati-bound flight.”
Seema allegedly slapped Madhura and verbally abused her in front of other employees. The airline’s security staff handed her over to the police around 11.15am.
The DGCA’s 45-minute deadline took effect in mid-2011, the primary objective being to avoid flight delay. “Any flight being delayed has a cascading effect on schedules across the country. There are also security reasons for insisting that fliers report for check-in at least 45 minutes before the scheduled take-off,” an official said.
Earlier, many passengers would report for check-in late and get in by requesting or threatening airline staff. Any such instance invariably resulted in the flight being delayed.
A strict check-in deadline is especially essential for an airport like Calcutta’s, where queues at the check-in and security check counters are often long.
At busier airports like those in Mumbai and Delhi, flights are given slots for landing. If any flight gets delayed, it has to forfeit that slot to another one. The affected airline then has a tough time avoiding a chain reaction of delays across airports.
Airlines have to regularly submit on-time performance reports regularly to the DGCA. A dip in performance invites censure.
“Since the deadline was implemented, the on-time performance of various airlines has improved by nearly 90 per cent,” an official of the airline operators’ committee said.