Indian carrier SpiceJet is facing harsh criticism for the way it strip-searched flight attendants suspected of stealing cash from onboard.
SpiceJet collects cash for buy-on-board sales and suspected that FAs were pilfering this money. But it did more than question a number of FAs earlier this week: it strip-searched them. Literally.
Forced to strip naked, several FAs complained of unnecessary touching of private parts. One woman who was in the midst of her period was even forced to remove her sanitary pad. Talk about humiliation…
No money was found.
Yesterday, a bystander captured FAs at Chennai International Airport protesting the searches:
SpiceJet bristled off outrage, calling such searches “a global industry practice” and adding:
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.
As for the invasive strip searches? That’s no problem, says SpiceJet, because “only women security staff search women employees” and such employees take place in a private room.
I’m not familiar with criminal law in India, but SpiceJet claimed “a specific security tip-off” drove its action. On the other hand, it stated, that it conducted “random pat down searches” which seems more like a fishing expedition than a narrow response to a reasonable suspicion.
Can you imagine FAs being subjected to this in the USA, especially in the #metoo era? U.S. carriers used to face this issue as well, but resolved it through cashless cabin policies. While credit card use is not as prevalent in India, SpiceJet could certainly eliminate all potential and actual theft by only accepting debit and credit cards for onboard payment.
But talk about a horrible situation. No one should face such a humiliating strip search without probable cause.