India Jet Airways Loses Challenge Over Policy Not To Serve Women Alcohol On Flights

India’s Jet Airways has been fined for an alleged policy not to serve alcohol to women on its flights. The Indian consumer court awarded only 50,000 rupees ($925) to the Canadian woman, Mrs. Jennifer Robinson, but it is the policy that strikes me as truly bizarre.

The Canadian woman asked for a “rum drink” on a flight from Bangkok to Delhi with her family in 2009. Ms. Robinson works at the Canadian High Commission in Delhi and was not going to let such a ridiculous rule pass unchallenged to her credit.

Delhi District Consumer Forum President CK Chaturvedi found that the refusal caused “mental agony, humiliation, insult” — not to mention a rum deficit.

The question I have is how any airline could impose such a policy in the modern age. Jet Airways is the largest Indian airline and operates over 400 flights daily to 76 destinations worldwide. I would be surprised that this is a general policy since most passengers who be in full riot if told that women are barred from ordering alcohol drinks. Yet, the flight attendant stated this as a policy of the airline, according to the complaint. My real question is why the airline would challenge such a case. In an effort to save $900, Jet Airways has purchased millions of dollars of bad press. One has to wonder about the legal logic of counsel and management for this airline.

Source: BBC

9 thoughts on “India Jet Airways Loses Challenge Over Policy Not To Serve Women Alcohol On Flights”

  1. I went looking for cultural, political or religious reasons why a policy like this would be employed and didn’t find an answer. The article linked below is a good article on the cultural shift in alcohol consumption among women though. Muslims don’t drink so they are not really an issue in the matter it would seem. Brahmins drink very little. But lower caste women do drink and are thought to binge drink.

    With the movement of women into professional fields the use of alcohol by women has risen and the article concludes that women’s drinking habits have been looked upon culturally as an issue of habits associated with lower caste women as well as now, women moving into or being part of a higher social caste. Alcohol use among women may be the avatar of women’s equality within the professional caste.

    That puts a fascinating spin on this story from a country that still has a public caste system. Withholding alcohol from women may be a discriminatory act against lower caste women or a refusal to acknowledge that women are gaining a level of economic and caste equality heretofore unnecessary to address. An oversight or deliberate foot-dragging.

    Or something else entirely.

    “India: Alcohol in a Changing Women’s Culture”

  2. A complaint was filed with the Consumer Forum asking for approximately $49,000 damages. Does the Consumer Forum process provide the opportunity for outside settlement once a complaint is filed? Would the woman have accepted less than $1000? or some other amount less than the $49,00? It’s also possible that this was a steward’s individual policy, not one of the company; note that the “The court also directed the airline to give its staff etiquette training on how to behave with female passengers “without any discrimination whether Indian or foreign”.” If so, the company may have thought it wouldn’t be held accountable for a misguided individual. Not a good thought by the company but one that’s possible in these times where corporate accountability doesn’t seem to be a priority.

  3. rafflaw,

    Sure it isn’t the coke that’s the problem? Methinks rum has some medicinal qualities for coughs.

    I rarely cough anymore. 😉

  4. You are spot on Professor. How could this Airline make this kind of decision? Of course, after one too many rum and Coke’s in college, I can’t see how anyone would want a rum drink!

  5. Thirty years ago Pan Am had an unwritten policy of not serving Indians liquor or keeping a lid on it. They feared Indians could not hold their liquor and would throw up, act up, or pass out. The later was not so bad but then it was hard to exit them from the plane. Not Native American Indians but folks from Inda. Pan Am Flight attendants from Flight One— from Delhi to Frankfort, Germany, circa 1980, please chimne in on this one.

  6. I have always found liquor is quicker than candy or flowers…..I am in agreement with the ruling….

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