Video of an inflight confrontation between a passenger and a flight attendant has gone viral, where the crewmember declares “I am not your servant!” That’s after yelling “My crew is crying because of you!” The passenger told her to shut up, and she yelled shut up right back.
People on social media, and especially other cabin crew, are cheering this IndiGo flight attendant on from afar. But it should never have gotten to this.
Tempers soaring even mid-air: "I am not your servant"
An @IndiGo6E crew and a passenger on an Istanbul flight to Delhi (a route which is being expanded soon with bigger planes in alliance with @TurkishAirlines ) on 16th December : pic.twitter.com/ZgaYcJ7vGv
— Tarun Shukla (@shukla_tarun) December 21, 2022
The passenger booked a Turkish Airlines ticket – a codeshare – that involved travel from Istanbul to Delhi on IndiGo. He put in a request for a special meal. Low cost carrier IndiGo doesn’t have ovens on their aircraft.
Sometimes airlines don’t board special meals in any case. That’s not the fault of cabin crew. It’s the airline’s fault, which is responsible for taking the request and ensuring its caterers follow through. Often airlines more or less ignore the failures of their caterers, and are loathe to hold up a flight to rectify them.
- Turkish Airlines shouldn’t accept special meal requests on codeshares operated by airlines that cannot deliver them. Indeed, special meal requests made from one airline for travel on a codeshare partner rarely work out. Codeshares are deceptive and the IT managing them usually riddled with problems.
- The passenger shouldn’t have gotten aggressive with the flight attendant. We don’t actually see that part of the interaction on the video, and can simply infer it from what comes next.
- There’s really no reason to respond in-kind. While the crewmember is frustrated, and it’s not fair that she’s subjected to an outraged customer (it isn’t her fault! it’s the fault of her employer and their codeshare partner and a customer who doesn’t understand their processes), however it’s better to de-escalate conflict inflight than to escalate it. That’s one way flights wind up diverting.
Here I feel for the customer, though he behaved poorly. And I especially feel for the crewmember, though would have loved to see her respond more calmly. But at the end of the day it’s the airlines that set up a system that is confusing and deceptive and poorly executed, what do you expect to happen?
According to IndiGo,
We are aware of the incident that took place on flight 6E 12 from Istanbul to Delhi on December 16, 2022. The issue was related to meals chosen by certain passengers traveling via a codeshare connection.
IndiGo is cognizant of the needs of its customers and it is our constant endeavor to provide a courteous and hassle-free experience to our customers. We are looking into the incident and would like to assure that customers’ comfort has always been our top priority.
Low cost Indian airline IndiGo has a majority of that country’s domestic market. Their co-founder, Rakesh Gangwal, is former CEO of US Airways, having left shortly after the termination of the airline’s merger agreement with United and after 9/11. Gangwal left the airline’s board earlier this year and has been gradually selling down his 36% stake in the carrier. In September the well-regarded Pieter Elbers, pushed out as head of KLM, took over the airline as CEO.