The Hush Post: Low-cost carrier SpiceJet’s women crew members are up in arms. They are protesting against the alleged “strip search” they were subjected to.The entire episode has also been shot on camera. The episode took place at the Chennai Airport.
As per the crew members, they maintain that for the past few days they are being subjected to a “strip search” right after deboarding.
The cabin crew also alleged that the aircraft’s security personnel even told them to get the sanitary pads in their baggage checked.
On its part the airline issued a statement after a video of the episode went viral. The airline said: “The pat down searches on employees was a global industry practice and were conducted in line with norms laid down by security agencies in closed rooms and by well-trained employees of the same gender. The search essentially is the same as what any passenger goes through at any of the Indian airports while going through security check.’’
The statement further admitted that the carrier’s security did carry out extensive searches in some places on March 28 and 29 following a tip-off on alleged pilferage. A few cases of pilferage where also detected and adequate action was taken.
The release added: “The laid-down procedure for the searches has been stringently followed in this case. Allegations that security staff deviated from the procedures are being investigated and strict action will be taken if anybody is found guilty.’’
The airline was compelled to issue the statement after the video went viral. The video shows air hostesses in uniform and plainclothes voicing their displeasure at being strip searched. One is heard saying: “Someone touched me inappropriately, made me feel very uncomfortable. I was naked.’’
The protesting staff allege that the airline management suspects them of stealing part of the cash collected via sales of food and other stuff on board the flight. Some staff also alleges that they are not allowed to use the washroom either immediately after de-boarding.
As reported by NDTV, some air hostesses say: “We air hostesses are stripped naked over the last three days and women personnel touch us inappropriately. A colleague in her period was asked to remove her sanitary napkin.’’ NDTV is also in possession of some emails written by the aggrieved staff to the management.
The NDTV report further quotes two emails: “Is this the policy to remove your sanitary pad, touch private parts?’’ We cabin crew are hired majorly for safety reasons of the fellow passengers but what about our respect and safety? We talk about rape and molestation, is this any less?’’
Meanwhile the management has assured the protesting staff of a high level meeting at the Gurugram office on Monday to look into the matter. Due to the protest two midnight flights, with one being an international flight to Colombo, left Chennai almost an hour late.
The NDTV report quotes another email from a staff member: “On informing the base official that I wasn’t comfortable and I’m on my menses she still checked my panty; they pressed my breasts. I’ve lost my self-respect… Cabin crew is the brand ambassador. We are humiliated as if we have done some robbery.’’
In an email to all staff members SpiceJet’s senior vice president who heads in-flight services Kamal Hingorani said the strict searches were being conducted to check pilferage of cash and company material from flights. The email reads: “We have therefore been compelled to carry out spot checks, which in any case is a company policy. It is in all our interests that the ‘black sheep’ amongst us is identified and removed so that honest employees are not blamed.’’
NDTV quotes a senior SpiceJet official in Chennai stating that the allegations were baseless.