SpiceJet has found itself in hot water after chartering one of its Boeing 737 to a couple getting married onboard. The flight was carrying the couple and dozens of relatives from Madurai, Tamil Nadu, to Bangalore, Karnataka. However, images quickly emerged of the marriage onboard and violations of health protocols, forcing the DGCA to act swiftly.
The incident occurred on a SpiceJet charter flight from Madurai to Bangalore on Sunday, 23rd May. The aircraft was carrying a newly married couple and many of their family members and guests onboard. However, it seems the couple had actually decided to get married onboard the aircraft itself, violating all health rules currently in place.
The issues began soon after boarding. One video, which has been circulating on Twitter, from the plane shows the couple and other passengers unmasked and interacting with others onboard. Subsequent images and videos of the marriage ceremony itself show passengers crowding the aisles, not maintaining social distancing, or wearing masks.
Rakesh-Dakshina from Madurai, who rented a plane for two hours and got married in the wedding sky. Family members who flew from Madurai to Bangalore after getting married by SpiceJet flight from Bangalore to Madurai. #COVID19India #lockdown @TV9Telugu #weddingrestrictions pic.twitter.com/9nDyn3MM4n
— DONTHU RAMESH (@DonthuRamesh) May 23, 2021
Considering India’s devastating second wave, India’s aviation authorities quickly began investigating. The Airports Authority of India even tweeted, demanding that SpiceJet look into the incident immediately. Many online expressed their outrage at a mass gathering of this kind given the health situation in India.
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According to Hindustan Times, the DGCA (India’s aviation regulator) has de-rostered the crew on this specific SpiceJet flight. This means the crew is grounded and no longer flying until an investigation is complete. The crew was found to have posed for a picture with the newly-married couple. However, there is no news of action being taken against the couple or SpiceJet itself.
It seems the couple was trying to get married while flying over a historic temple in Tamil Nadu. Both the states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka are under full lockdowns, prevent large-scale gatherings and weddings. This meant the group were hoping to break the rules by having an inflight wedding instead.
In a statement, SpiceJet said the charter flight was for a “joy ride for the wedding group” and that the group was “briefed on the safety norms repeatedly.” It’s unclear how much the crew intervened, who may have found it difficult to break up dozens of passengers. However, the passengers did not follow any of the mandatory guidelines from the government.
The visuals from the onboard wedding have angered many as India battles a second wave of COVID-19. Deaths remain at an all-time high of over 4,400 daily fatalities and infections are well over 200,000. At a time like this, many have panned SpiceJet for chartering a plane for a “joy ride” and the wedding group for its irresponsible actions.
This isn’t the first time SpiceJet has found itself in trouble. On Saturday, a flight carrying elite athletes was forced to declare a fuel emergency and land due to landing permission confusion in Dubai. Last week, a SpiceJet crew was stuck onboard a 737 for 21 hours since the airline did not provide testing before the flight to Zagreb.
In recent months, India has also added tighter rules for passengers. This includes no meals on short flights, fines and bans for not wearing masks correctly onboard. Despite this, airlines have been failed to enforce the rules in the past and travelers seem to continue flouting the rule. The DGCA is currently investigating the incident and plans to take action.
What do you think about this inflight wedding during the crisis? Who should be held responsible? Let us know in the comments.