In what is every employee's nightmare, Air India has issued an advisory that asks its cabin crew members to carry their uniform when they set out on a vacation. In the advisory issued on September 1, the airline said that cabin crew members must also pack their full set of documents including passport, ID card, competency card and medical card along with their full uniform, in case they are needed to report to duty.
The airline feels that if employees can fly for free, then they should also be ready to abandon their families and resume work if a flight falls short of a cabin crew member at the destination they are holidaying. Air India employees are entitled to 16 to 24 free tickets, depending on the individual's duration of service, to domestic and international destinations. Seats are subject to availability and the employee flies as 'Staff On Leave' (SOL).
There is still a way around for Air India employees to escape this. All they'll have to do to ensure that their vacation is not ruined is buy their flight tickets and not rely on company perks.
However, there is a loophole in this advisory, as mentioned in a report in The Times of India. When a flight attendant enters a different country he or she does so under the Civil Aviation Organisation's general declaration document. A paper slip attached to the passport is stamped as they enter with a crew visa. However, when on holiday they will enter another country under a tourist visa and a passport page will be stamped.
As a senior crew member pointed out it may be considered illegal for someone to enter a country under a tourist visa and leave under a crew visa.
This advisory comes as Air India has consistently been flying understaffed as per Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) norms. For instance, in a Boeing 777-300ER the minimum crew mandated by the DGCA is 15. According to the daily, Air India has been rostering only 15 cabin crew members for the past 7-8 years from 22 earlier. Since it already runs with the minimum number, if any member falls sick at an international destination, they would be left with a shortage, delaying the flight.
(Edited by Anwesha Madhukalya)