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Your opinion: Is DGCA over-reacting to SpiceJet’s mid-air Holi celebrations?

Holi is a major festival in much of India, especially the north where Gurgaon based low-fare carrier SpiceJet is based. Holi is a festival of colour, fun, frolic and love, celebrating the arrival of spring. Last Monday, March 17, SpiceJet carried extra cabin crew on eight selected flights who performed a short two and a half to three minute program in the aisles.

the song was the Deepika Padukone Ranbir Kapoor holi song ‘Balam Pichkari’ from the movie ‘Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani’

While this was a fresh approach for an Indian carrier, other airlines around the world have done similar promotions.

Finnair cabin crew who sponsored under-privileged children in its ‘flight of fantasy’ program, did a dance on-board their flight on India’s Republic Day in 2012. Read that story here.

In an effort to combat ‘frequent flier fatigue’ airlines resort to ‘out-of-the-ordinary’ methods to retain interest of passengers when demonstrating safety briefings and videos. Cebu Pacific uses flight attendants dancing in the aisles.

Air New Zealand lives up to its risqué reputation and features scanty bikini-clad Sport Illustrated Swimsuit super models in their in-flight safety video. (Read story and see video here).

The country’s regulator the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has issued a notice to Spicejet over this holiday performance which has resulted in the suspension of two of the airline’s pilots. The apparent cause of the notice? In one of the videos shot by the passengers, the co-pilot is seen outside the cockpit photographing the performance, and the DGCA says this is a safety violation.

As we understand safety regulations, a pilot is allowed to take brief breaks from the cockpit. During the break, a cabin crew member steps on to the flight deck to monitor the sole pilot flying under the remote possibility should some untoward incident happen. As a safety precaution, the cockpit door is locked, and many airlines practice putting a food cart traverse across the aisle as an additional precaution. As per airline sources, on Spicejet flight SG876 from Goa to Bangalore, after the co-pilot exited the toilet, one of the cabin crew dancing asked the co-pilot to take a photograph of the performance, which he did and then returned to the cockpit. The airline has publicly stated that it was cooperating with the DGCA in resolving the issue, and that the cockpit of all the aircraft were manned at all times.

Do you think this was a nice gesture by Spicejet? or should the airline refrain from such celebrations? and is the DGCA correct in calling this a safety violation? or is it over-reacting, possibly to show the US FAA which has downgraded India’s aviation ranking to category 2 specifically citing poor regulatory oversight resources? Share your thoughts via a a comment.

About Vedant Agarwal

A frequent flyer for both work and pleasure - Vedant has held elite status on many of the major alliances and airlines. Also an avid aviation photographer, his pictures have been published in and on the covers of many international publications.

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