‘Drunk’ passenger onboard Delhi-Bengaluru IndiGo flight takes ’emergency’ route to legal trouble

The man, Pratheek, tried to open the flap on the aircraft's emergency exit during mid-flight. He was handed over to the CISF at KIA.

ByAjay Tomar

Published Apr 08, 2023 | 12:57 PMUpdated Apr 09, 2023 | 1:01 AM

Delhi-Bengaluru Indigo flight Drunk passenger booked for trying to open emergency exit flap midair

A passenger onboard a Delhi-Bengaluru IndiGo flight was detained at the Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) in the southern city after he allegedly tried to open the flap on an emergency exit.

The flight, 6E 398, was airborne when the passenger, reportedly under the influence of alcohol, tried to open the flap on Friday, 7 April.

The passenger has been identified as 30-year-old R Pratheek, a native of Nawabganj in Uttar Pradesh’s Kanpur, around 495 km from Delhi.

The passenger’s act did not compromise the flight’s security, since the door was pressure-locked. It could be opened only on landing, according to aviation experts.

The plane, which departed Delhi at 7.56 am, reached KIA at 10.43 am.

Meanwhile, the incident comes months after South First reported BJP MP Tejasvi Surya opened the emergency exit door. No action was taken in the incident that involved the BJP MP, with authorities, including Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, deeming it a “mistake”.

Read more: Emergency door was unlocked by Tejasvi Surya, says co-passenger

No arrest, notice issued

Delhi-Bengaluru Indigo flight: Drunk passenger booked for trying to open emergency exit flap midair

The passenger, R Pratheek. (Supplied)

Sources said the crew alerted the captain on noticing Pratheek’s act and appropriately cautioned the passenger seated on 18F.

Upon landing at KIA, he was handed over to the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF).

Acting on a complaint by crewmember Tejaswi Shah, the KIA police registered a case. However, no arrest was made.

Pratheek, a marketing executive with an e-commerce firm, was booked under IPC sections 290 (causing public nuisance), and 336 (endangering life or personal safety of others) and Section 11A of the Aircraft Act.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (North East Zone) Laxmi Prasad told reporters that a notice was issued to the passenger.

Incidentally, IndiGo recently made an addition to its pre-departure announcement, warning passengers against tampering with the emergency exit — even unintentionally.

Read more: After SF report, DGCA acknowledges Tejasvi Surya involvement

MP delayed a flight

On 10 December 2022, the Lok Sabha member from Bengaluru South, Tejasvi Surya, opened the emergency exit, causing a delay of more than two hours.

The lawmaker was travelling to Trichy from Chennai along with Tamil Nadu BJP chief and former IPS officer K Annamalai, when he opened the door — “by mistake”, as Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia later explained.

The incident took place aboard IndiGo flight 6E 7339, an ATR 72-600. The flight was scheduled for departure at 10.05 am but was delayed by 2 hours and 42 minutes.

It took the airline a month and seven days to officially acknowledge the violation of air safety norms onboard its aircraft.

“A passenger travelling on Flight 6E 7339 from Chennai to Tiruchirapalli on Dec 10, 2022, accidentally opened the emergency exit during the boarding process,” IndiGo said in a statement on 17 January.

“The passenger immediately apologised for their action. As per SOPs, the incident was logged and the aircraft underwent mandatory engineering checks, which led to a delay in the flight’s departure,” it added.

Read more: Emergency exit: Dayanidhi Maran takes a dig at Tejasvi Surya

Previous incidents

According to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation rules notified in the Civil Aviation Requirements Section 5 on Air Safety dated 20 October 2015, reporting of incidents, accidents and investigations are mandatory on all scheduled and non-scheduled flights.

In March 2021, a passenger aboard a SpiceJet aircraft travelling from New Delhi to Varanasi attempted to open the emergency exit midair. He was restrained and handed over to the police after landing.

Read more: Indigo has new in-flight announcement after ’emergency exit’ row

In February 2017, an FIR was filed against a passenger on board a Mumbai-Chandigarh IndiGo flight for opening the emergency exit and injuring a co-passenger in the process.

In September 2011, when a passenger “inadvertently” opened the emergency exit door onboard the now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines flight to Delhi. He was deplaned and handed him over to the security personnel.

Several such incidents have compelled Indigo to come up with a new in-flight announcement explicitly warning passengers against tampering with emergency exits and flight safety equipment.