The cabin crew of SpiceJet have reportedly alleged strip searching by the airline’s own security personnel in the wee hours of Saturday.
Protesting at the Chennai airport, the female cabin crew members reportedly said that they had been asked to remove their sanitary pads from their hand luggage.
Speaking to NDTV, one cabin crew member said, “We air hostesses are stripped naked over the last three days and women personnel touch us inappropriately. A colleague in her period was asked to remove her sanitary napkin.”
According to sources close to the development, the protest caused the delay of two SpiceJet flights, one to Colombo and one to Pune.
Responding to allegations, SpiceJet released a statement calling such pat-downs "a global industry practice".
“One of the objectives of this search is to ensure that there is no pilferage of company moneys/goods, smuggling or any illegal activity that an employee may be lured into. This also ensures security and safety of our passengers, our employees and our assets. This search essentially is the same as what any passenger goes through at any of the Indian airports while going through security check,” the statement read.
SpiceJet also responded to allegations of strip searching saying that these checks take place in closed rooms, adding that "only women security staff search women employees."
SpiceJet sources claimed to TNM, however, that they had not received a complaint from the cabin crew members.
SpiceJet also stated that they were operating based on “a specific security tip-off following certain recent instances in other airlines".
The airline has initiated an investigation into the nature of the security team’s behaviour towards the cabin crew.
“Allegations regarding deviation from these SOPs are being investigated and strict action will be taken if anybody is found guilty,” said the airline.
Speaking to TNM, the Airports Authority of India deemed this a SpiceJet "family matter" and denied that it had received any complaint in this regard.