An Air India pilot allegedly asked a crew member to clean the tiffin after he had finished his meal before taking off from Bengaluru airport, provoking a heated argument between the two.
The incident took place on Monday at the Bengaluru airport onboard the fight to Kolkata in front of passengers.
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On that day, the pilot had brought food from home. First, he asked the crew member to warm up the food. After everyone finished eating, the pilot allegedly asked the crew member to wash his tiffin box.
Soon, it turned into a major brawl as the crew member took the order as a major offence. The two officials started fighting in full public view, thereby, delaying the flight by 77 minutes.
A senior Air India cabin crew on condition of anonymity told India Today TV that such incidents were not unusual. "Captains often push the cabin crew to do menial jobs. They ask the crew to make lassi, milkshake and mix and match meals. I have had many such experiences but I have always taken a stand and told the Captains a firm no," he said.
Consequently, Air India is likely to ban pilots from bringing their own food on board an aircraft, the officials said.
"We have taken a serious note of this incident that happened on Monday. We will soon ask pilots to not bring their own food on flights," said a senior official of the national carrier.
Another airline official said flight AI-772 was to leave from Bengaluru for Kolkata at 11.40 am on Monday but it got delayed by nearly two hours as the captain and the cabin crew member — who had gotten into a fight — had to be removed and replaced on the plane.
"I have been told that the captain wanted the cabin crew member to clean the tiffin after he finished his meal. Probably, this is what led to a fight between them. An investigation has been started. Strict action will be taken," the second official said.
Airline officials said the two employees have been called to the Delhi headquarters for interrogation and they would be here on Thursday.
Earlier, on March 27, Air India had instructed its pilots to not order special meals for themselves during flights as they are required to adhere to a "meal schedule laid down by the company".
The decision was taken as pilots were found to be ordering special meals for themselves — such as burgers, soups, smoked salmon, guacamole and hummus with pita bread.
(with inputs from agencies)
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