NEW DELHI: A business class passenger travelling from Mumbai to Newark on an Air India flight shifted to a vacant seat in the economy class to be next to a female passenger and then allegedly groped her when she fell asleep. The man’s inappropriate touch woke up the woman and she then complained to the cabin crew. The woman and AI lodged a complaint on arrival in the US and the 40-year-old man was handed over to police.
AI 191 had taken off from Mumbai at 2am on December 21. Four hours into the flight, the cabin crew found a woman crying hysterically in the rear galley. The woman, who was in economy class row 34, said that a person sitting next to her had put his hands on her breasts. She shouted at him, warned him and then walked to the rear galley to complain to the crew.
“The alleged molestor was assigned business class seat 8F, which is in the second row of the aircraft (it was a two-configuration aircraft, business and economy). He told the cabin crew in the business section of the Boeing 777 that he would be sitting in the economy section as his colleague was there and they had to complete some work,” said sources
After the woman’s complaint, the cabin crew confronted him. “The man told the crew that he was a frequent economy-class flyer and could not sleep in business class. He said he found a vacant seat and occupied the same,” said sources.
However, by now the man realised that the woman was very upset and was going to file a written complaint with the authorities in the US on arrival. “He then began grovelling and requested the crew to allow him to meet the woman to apologise and say that he had accidentally touched her while he himself was asleep. The woman refused to meet the person,” said sources
Realising the trouble he was in, the man, who has a 11-year-old daughter, penned a six-page apology letter begging “please do not let a moment’s stupidity on my part kill my children’s future. I beg of you. I know I should have thought of these things before… I acknowledge I was stupid. Please do not let everyone suffer because of me”. He also said he had a “handicapped brother” and that he had “just moved to the US from India”.
The letter, accessed by TOI, also said that any legal blot would affect his chances of a US citizenship. “I wish I could rewind time and correct what has happened. But please do not let five minutes of stupidity kill what I have worked on for 40 years… Because of the immigration status we are in, it means punishment for all linked to me,” he writes.
Meanwhile, the cabin crew informed the captain of the events and was instructed to call the airport police on arrival.