UAE aviation authorities, who probed the crash landing of the Emirates flight in Dubai last month, have blamed Indian flyers for poor etiquette, The Times of India reported.
Flight EK521, which was flying from Thiruvananthapuram to Dubai, crash landed at the Dubai International Airport on August 3 at 12:45 pm local time. After the crash land, part of the aircraft caught fire.
The aircraft was carrying 282 passengers- of which 226 or over 80% were Indians- and 18 crew members on board, the report states. However, all of them were evacuated safely.
In its preliminary report, the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority describes "passenger behaviour and carry-on baggage" before the flyers were evacuated.
According to inputs from cabin crew mentioned in the report, passengers collected their hand bags despite being told not to do so during the evacuation process. The TOI report states that "While the report does not name Indians, the reference is quite clear, with 80% of flyers on the plane from the country."
The probe report states, "The cabin crew members stated that when the aircraft got impacted and slid along the runway, passengers started to unfasten their seat belts and stand up. An announcement was made for the passengers to remain seated. When the aircraft came to rest, some passengers were screaming, grabbing their belongings, and asking the cabin crew members to open the doors,"
It adds that "The cabin crew members followed the operator's safety instructions that prohibit passengers taking their carry-on baggage during an evacuation, and they instructed the passengers to leave their bags behind. However, several passengers evacuated the aircraft carrying their baggage. Footage of the evacuation showed a number of passengers outside the aircraft with their baggage."
Soon after the August incident, a 2-minute video, seemingly shot by a passenger inside the flight and showing passengers scrambling for luggage after the crash land, was uploaded online.
While several social media users questioned the conduct of passengers during a situation of emergency, one particular post by an ex-flight attendant was termed "racist" and was widely criticised.
In his Facebook post, the man apparently called Indians "rats" and "an untameable bunch".
However, there were also those who felt that the passengers could have behaved the way they did due to a panic situation.
Countering the ex-attendant's post, UAE-based Indian RJ Mohit Dantre wrote, “I don’t think he realizes that a situation is called a panic situation because people panic! There is no set behaviour pattern that is taught in case your plane explodes into a fireball, is it? And you know why? Because people don’t live to tell the tale! Could people have reacted better? I don’t know! Would people from another country react any different or better? I certainly don’t think so! How does one react to a situation where you see your life is about to end in the next few seconds. And got to love how he has coloured his racist rant into a status update full of 'shock,anger and fear'."
The perception that Indian flyers are a loud and disorderly bunch, is not a new one. What is debatable though is whether or not it holds any truth.
“Very often flights out of India, mainly from south India to Gulf, have several first time flyers. They are not very well-versed with how to eat (with fork and knife) in the small trays; how to use the toilets in a way that it is left clean for others. If travelling in groups, the first time flyers who mostly go abroad for employment talk loudly to each other, much to annoyance of other flyers,” a senior pilot with an Indian carrier told TOI.
Responding to reports of passengers running for their bags, Aviation safety expert Mohan Ranganathan had then tweeted saying that it was not specifically an Indian trait.
He also said that passengers also may not understand the languages in which the safety demonstrations are given in the flight.
There are also many instances which show that this "mentality" of rushing to save one’s belongings during moments of emergency isn’t particularly an instinct from the subcontinent.
Last year, pilots lambasted passengers on-board a British Airways flight, who insisted on carrying their baggage, including wheeled suitcases, as the plane went up in smoke. The BA flight from Las Vegas to London caught fire during take-off.