Passport

Bollywood Star: Airlines That Don’t Let Me Perform Are Preventing Happiness

Five flight attendants were suspended after letting a Bollywood star perform over the in-flight speaker system.

Sonu Nigam. (Photo by: IndiaPictures/UIG via Getty Images)
Sonu Nigam. (Photo by: IndiaPictures/UIG via Getty Images)

Imagine you’re a flight attendant whose daily duties include reminding ungrateful passengers to note the plane’s emergency exits, buckle their seat belts, and refrain from smoking cigarettes.

Now imagine you have a chance to interrupt that monotony with a surprise intercom appearance from a Bollywood star.

You’d better think twice, because it turns out hosting that concert could cost you your job.

Five Jet Airways attendants working on a flight from Mumbai to Jodhpur learned that the hard way when they let Sonu Nigam, an Indian actor and singer, perform over the airplane’s speaker system on Jan. 4. On Friday, more than a month after the performance, they were suspended to participate in “corrective training to reinforce strict adherence to operating procedures.”

Their suspension came after India’s aviation watchdog investigated the incident and released a report saying the performance reduced the staff’s preparedness for an emergency. Investigators made their decision in part by watching videos of the performance that passengers posted online.

“The frequent movement of the dancing crew may have affected the aircraft’s centre of gravity during flight and created turbulence,” the watchdog said in its report.

Nigam, whose name was trending on social media in India Friday, disagreed.

“To suspend crew members for asking me to sing on the address system, when the seatbelt signs were off, and no announcements were to be made, is nothing less than punishing someone for spreading happiness,” he told the Times of India.

According to him, all passengers on the chartered flight knew one another and requested the performance. And apparently live, in-flight entertainment isn’t out of the ordinary in Nigam’s travel experience.

“I have witnessed an elaborate fashion show in an aircraft,” he said. “I have heard of small concerts happening in an aircraft. I have seen pilots and crew members cracking humorous jokes to loosen up passengers in other countries, which is so cool.”

Nigam’s opinion aside, there’s a precedent for these kind of suspensions in India. In 2014, the watchdog recommended suspension after the flight crew danced to celebrate Holi, a spring festival to celebrate color and love.

Photo Credit: IndiaPictures/UIG via Getty Images

Siobhán O’Grady is a freelance journalist working across sub-Saharan Africa. She previously worked as a staff writer at Foreign Policy. @siobhan_ogrady

Trending Now Sponsored Links by Taboola

By Taboola

More from Foreign Policy

By Taboola