Air India to spare six front seats for women

National transporter Air India will fast reserve six seats in the front rows of its aeroplane convoy for women passengers for their safety — without any spare charges.
“We will rapidly reserve two rows (or six seats) for women passengers only,” Air India chairman and managing director Ashwani Lohani claimed. The airline will not be charging any additional fee for blocking such seats for women passengers.
This is maybe the first time in the world that seats will be reserved only for women passengers on planes in such a manner. Yet, other modes of transport in India, containing local and long-distance trains, metros and buses have earmarked berths, seats or for women. Pink auto rickshaws reserved for women have also been presented in Noida and Gurugram.
“We will be keeping the third row — six seats — in the economy class of the aircraft for female passengers travelling only,” Air India general manager-revenue management Meenakshi Malik added. “We feel, as national importers, it is our responsibility to improve comfort level to female passengers. There are a lot of female passengers who travel alone with us and we will be obstructive a few seats for them.”
The change assumes significance, as it arises soon after an on-board incident in Air India’s Mumbai-Newark flight late last month where a flyer supposedly groped a woman co-passenger. During the flight, a business class passenger improved his seat to sit next to a female passenger in the economy class and allegedly fingered her when she fell asleep.
Telling the move as a “misplaced priority,” former Air India executive director Jitendra Bhargava stated: “To my knowledge, this occurs nowhere in the world. Planes are not unsafe for women passengers. In case of unruly behaviour, the airline crew are authorised to take action as per the law.”
Passenger agents also expressed reservations about the seat reservation for women. “It is an unusable move and will lead to gender discrimination. The airline should not go forward with the plan,” D. Sudhakara Reddy, national president of Air Passengers Association of India added.

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