05 Apr 2017 16:06 IST

Drunks, racists and abusers — Ravindra Gaikwad in dubious company

Unruly passengers are a bane while flying. Here are a few of the notorious ones

Ravindra Gaikwad may never again get a seat on a flight in India, but the Shiv Sena MP has reserved a place in the history of the aviation industry as one of the most unruliest passengers ever.

While many were disgusted by his behaviour – he slippered an Air India employee for not getting a business class seat in an all-economy flight – the unrepentant politician is not alone. Truth to be told, there are quite a few and here are five of them.

Sitting on the top of this dubious list of unruly passengers is Gerard Finneran, an investment banker who in a United Airlines flight in 1995, pushed and threatened attendants after being refused more alcohol. The intoxicated Finneran, as website Salon describes, “then proceeded to the first-class cabin, dropped his pants, defecated on a service cart in plain and then he stepped in his own faeces and tracked it through the main cabin.”

Finnerman was later sentenced to two years of probation, 300 hours of community service and $55,000 in fine.

Giving close competition to such as graceful flier is Jasbir Singh Bharaj, who in 2015 got drunk in an Emirates flight from Dubai to Birmingham. He threatened to punch a female cabin crew and then dipped his fingers in a glass of wine and rubbed his private parts. If that was not all, he abused Muslims and after landing, bit a policeman on his arm. Singh got 11 months in prison.

Getting hot

Alcohol, or too much of it, is often the root cause of bad behaviour. But there are a few accomplished fliers who don’t need a spirit to bring out their true character. On New Year’s Day, a United Airlines (again) flight from Sydney to San Francisco was diverted to Auckland after an American passenger turned violent. He was incensed that he was sitting between two South Asian passengers who were talking to each other over him. He went on a rant cursing Indians and Muslims, yelled at a steward and called her “fat **s”.

In December last year, Grammy-winning musician Richard Marx was the first to come forward to help when a co-passenger in the Korean Air flight from Hanoi to Seoul, turned violent, pushed female crew members and pulled their hair.

Unfortunately, the crew weren’t prepared for this and didn’t know how to use the taser, an electroshock weapon. Though they used ropes to tie him, the passenger could easily remove the restraints. “Korean Air should be sanctioned for not knowing how to handle a situation like this without passenger interference," Marx said later in a Facebook post.

While these incidents highlight how tough work can be for a flight steward, one wonders if they also overreact, sometimes. Like in the case of this 66-year-old gentleman who in March was flying from Las Vegas to Honolulu on Hawaiian Airlines.

Feeling cold, he requested for a blanket. But when told that he would have to pay $12, the flier got upset and demanded an explanation.

News agency AFP reported that he said, “I would like to take someone behind the woodshed for this,” which was deemed to be threatening by the pilot and the flight was diverted. On the ground though, the police concluded that no crime had been committed and the flier was let go. Gaikwad, hopefully, won’t be that lucky.

(The article first appeared in The Hindu BusinessLine.)