India’s national carrier will soon let women choose to purchase seats in a female-only section of its airplanes.
Air India is reserving the third row of its economy section for women only, according to The Hindu newspaper. Lone female domestic flyers will have the option of reserving these six seats at no additional cost starting January 18. “We feel, as national carriers, it is our responsibility to enhance comfort level to female passengers,” said Meenakshi Malik, general manager of Air India’s revenue management. Women traveling with families cannot select these seats. The airline has not outlined how it will enforce this policy but, presumably, to make sure only single travelers get the seat, women booking in groups will not be allowed to make selections in the reserved region.
The measure is being implemented on the heels of some up-in-the-air controversies. In December last year, a business class flyer switched to an economy class seat during a Mumbai-Newark flight to sit next to a female passenger and allegedly groped her once she fell asleep. And an Air India flight attendant reported that she was molested by a passenger on a Delhi-Muscat flight in the first week of January. The two untoward incidents prompted the airline to keep handcuffs onboard their domestic flights to tame unruly passengers.
The new announcement also comes days after another smudge on the airline’s reputation: On January 8, aviation insights company FlightStats labeled Air India the third-worst-performing international airline in the world, based on the fact that its flights were delayed nearly 40% of the time. A spokesperson from the airline denounced the FlightStats report as “fabricated.”
This article first appeared on Quartz.