Air India will add a row of seats that are “female-only” on all domestic flights, although officials for the company insist that move was not made in response to alleged incidents of groping.
The third row, which includes six seats, will be reserved in economy class for just female passengers that are traveling alone, said the airline in a prepared statement.
The airline said it felt as a national carrier that it had a responsibility to increase the comfort level of female passengers.
There are a number of female passengers traveling alone on the airline and seats will be blocked for them, said the airline.
Air India announced that it would not be charging anything for the request by women to sit in that section. The seats will become available beginning Wednesday January 18 and can be reserved up to one hour prior to check in.
Initial reports by the media tied the move by Air India to the alleged incidents of the groping of women on recent flights on Air India. However, the carrier denied that to be a motivation.
This is being done, said the airline, because a number of requests are made by female passengers, during check-in who would like to seat with another woman and not a male passenger.
An Air India spokesperson insisted that the reports of the alleged sexual assaults did not have any connection with the airline reserving seats for just females.
The airline insisted it was to do with economy class not having that much space to move in, is not comfortable for women and reserving seats for just them will give them additional choices.
The reason is not important. The female only seats of Air India come following two incidents that reportedly took place recently on the airline.
Last month, a woman claimed that she had been awakened from sleeping due to a man groping her after he had moved to an empty seat next to hers.
This month, a female flight attendant for Air India alleged she has been subjected to unwanted vulgar language and touching by one of the male passengers on her flight to Muscat from Delhi.
In each incident, the airline referred the male passengers to police.
Despite the assertion by Air India that its row of female-only was not due to the incidents, the carrier also revealed it has plans to maintain plastic handcuffs on its flight so the crew can restrain any unruly passengers.