Following several instances of reported harassment on their flights, Air India is implementing a plan to mark two rows on every flight as “women only.”
The Hindu reports that there will be no additional fee for booking one of the special seats set aside for female passengers, though there aren’t very many:
“We will be reserving the third row — six seats — in the economy class of the aircraft for female passengers travelling alone,” said Air India general manager-revenue management Meenakshi Malik. “We feel, as national carriers, it is our responsibility to enhance comfort level to female passengers. There are a lot of female passengers who travel alone with us and we will be blocking a few seats for them.”
According to The Hindu, the decision may be connected to an incident last month where a woman was assaulted on a Mumbai-Newark flight, when a male business class passenger went into the economy class to sit beside her and touched her while she slept.
Many countries have implemented women-only train cars to help prevent groping and harassment during commutes, including the Delhi metro rail, NPR reports. However, some remain skeptical and are discouraging Air India from following through. D. Sudhakara Reddy, national president of Air Passengers Association of India, told The Hindu, “It is an impractical move and will lead to gender discrimination. The airline should not go ahead with the plan.”