Mid-air Indian wedding: Bride and Groom will be charged for flouting COVID-19 norms

After the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) took cognisance of the COVID-19 rules violation during a mid-air marriage on a SpiceJet chartered flight, the airline on Monday informed that it has initiated appropriate action against the passengers.

“A SpiceJet Boeing 737 was chartered by a travel agent in Madurai on May 23, 2021, for a group of passengers for a joy ride post their wedding. The client was clearly briefed on COVID-19 guidelines to be followed and denied permission for any activity to be performed on board. The approval for this flight was taken as a joy ride for the wedding group,” SpiceJet said in a statement.

The airline clarified that the agent and the guest passengers were briefed in detail, both in writing as well as verbally, on social distancing and safety norms to be followed as per COVID guidelines both at the airport and on board the aircraft throughout the journey.

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“The group was repeatedly briefed on the safety norms to be followed by the operating cabin crew and advised to follow the protocols laid down by DGCA including restrictions on photography and videography. Despite repeated requests and reminders, the passengers did not follow COVID-19 guidelines and the airline is taking appropriate action as per rules,” it added.

India’s aviation watchdog, DGCA on Monday initiated an investigation over reports of mid-air marriage ceremony and has ordered taking the crew off duty.

The DGCA has asked for registering a complaint against all passengers who were part of the onboard marriage celebration and violated COVID-19 appropriate behaviour.

“Crew members are off rostered. Airline directed to lodge a complaint against those not following COVID-19 appropriate behaviour with relevant authorities,” a DGCA official told Indian media.

A couple tied the knot on-board a chartered flight from Madurai, Tamil Nadu. Their relatives and guests were on the same flight. On Sunday, a SpiceJet aircraft had booked a charter flight by a Madurai- based private person for the mid-air marriage ceremony but authorities were not informed regarding the marriage on board.

“A SpiceJet chartered flight was booked yesterday from Madurai. Airport Authority officials unaware of the mid-air marriage ceremony,” said Madurai Airport Director, S Senthil Valavan.

Earlier, DGCA had issued guidelines for air travellers and clearly mentioned to de-board passengers who are ‘wearing mask incorrectly’ from the plane.

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“Upon boarding the aircraft, in case any passenger does not adhere to wearing of mask properly even after repeated warnings, he/she should be de-boarded, if need be, before departure. In case, any passenger onboard an aircraft refuses to wear a mask or violates the ‘COVID-19 protocol for passengers’ even after repeated warnings, during the course of the flight, such passenger may be treated as ‘Unruly Passenger’,” its guideline said.

The DGCA sought a full report from the airline company and the Airport Authority regarding the said incident.

“The adherence to above directions shall be ensured by all concerned with immediate effect. Strict action shall be taken in case of any violation,” it added.