Why Are Indian Men Constantly Making Headlines For Pissing On People on Flights?

As most passengers will attest, airline companies do not offer golden showers in their flight packages, be it economy or first class.
man drinking on pla
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Of all the things India was supposed to achieve by 2023, being (in)famous for pissing on international co-passengers on flights was the last thing on everyone’s bucket list. If you’ve spent some time reading or watching the news over the last few months, then you’ve probably come across ghastly stories of Indian men subjecting random strangers to non-consensual golden showers. 

In the past few months alone, there have been numerous cases that have been reported, wherein drunk Indian men have been taken into custody once they land for having urinated on a fellow passenger. One has to simply google the term “pissing in flights” to find a range of stories of Indian men (and more so, men from Delhi) getting pissed drunk and then drunk pissing on their fellow passengers. “And It Was All Yellow,” as Coldplay would croon. 


The incident that first caught everyone’s attention was the one involving Shankar Mishra, who urinated on his fellow female passenger on an Air India flight headed from New York to Delhi in November 2022. The second incident came to light in December 2022, yet another Air India flight but this time on the Paris-Delhi route. Then in March 2023, an Indian student flying on a New York-Delhi American Airlines flight got too drunk and urinated on his fellow male passenger. And the latest incident is from April 2023 when an Indian passenger got into an argument with a fellow passenger in a drunk state only to piss on him in retort. This was again on a New York to Delhi flight. There must be something about the toilets of Delhi that people never want to use them after they land.


For most Indians, the reports – while shocking – probably weren’t all that difficult to digest. 

While such incidents are not isolated to India alone, it’s true that when compared to the rest of the world, Indian grown-ass men just don’t give a shit as to where they relieve themselves. At some point or the other, we’ve all been subjected to a drunk dude answering nature’s call on a footpath in our cities, two feet away from a public urinal, sometimes even whilst facing the people instead of the wall. At which point, Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar’s rhetorical question in the Hindi-language film Bhool Bhulaiyaa has likely crossed our minds: “Itna susu laate kahaan se ho tum?” (Where do you bring so much pee from?)

The thing about alcohol is that it’s a liquid, and the sorts that when it goes into the human body also needs to exit it with equal urgency. So, whoever thought that providing passengers in an aeroplane with a limited number of toilets with an unlimited supply of alcohol was a good idea, didn't quite put two and two (or is it one and one?) together. 

According to a study published in The Lancet, Indians are still among the world's lowest consumers of alcohol – government statistics show only 21 percent of adult men and around 2 percent of women drink. But up to a fifth of this group – about 14 million people – are dependent drinkers requiring “help.” Help that doesn’t quite come until there’s an intervention of some sort. 


Indian men have also developed somewhat of a reputation for brawling on flights. 

If Indian men aren’t fighting with each other over trivial issues like a reclined seat, then they are seen fighting with the crew over lack of food choices. 

Gone are the days when you went home quietly and wrote an angry email to the airline on your way back. How dare someone deny the entitled Indian male the right to get into a fight and/or tantrums?

Somehow, most of us manage to bottle all this angst that we have on the ground, but once someone confines us in a pressure chamber, we forget what being human is. According to several flight attendants, Indians – especially rich Indians – are the worst to tend to. They are entitled, chauvinistic, and lack basic etiquette. They also love getting wasted on the free alcohol on the flight, unaware that booze hits you faster in the air than on the ground.

From kicking seats, to talking loudly, to rushing and shoving other passengers, to peeing anywhere but inside the urinal – we’ve all been privy to such situations. Add alcohol to the mix, and there is only the airline staff and God between an entitled man’s wrath. I’ve spent hours and hours on flights wondering who in their right mind decided to let impatient Indians inside a metal chamber 30,000 feet in the air. I even exchange the occasional glance with cabin crew who deal with them day in and out, and have somehow hardened over time.


Alcoholism is a problem that cuts across socio-economic divides. Shankar Mishra, the man accused of peeing on his co-passenger in the November 2022 New York-Delhi flight, for instance, worked with a reputed American multinational financial services company, and is likely otherwise considered a well-adjusted member of society. According to his co-passenger, Mishra had downed four glasses of single-malt whiskey for lunch alone.

Ravi Jakhmola, a life coach who works at a de-addiction and rehabilitation centre in New Delhi, said, “Addiction to alcohol is a serious disease, and it’s a disease that doesn’t look at your wealth.” According to Jakhmola, whilst most of us drink on social occasions to blend in, an alcoholic person drinks to satiate a craving. “They know how to open the cap of the bottle, but not how to shut it.” 

Sarita Ladia, a former cabin crew member with a reputed airline, said, “Nothing like this ever happened during the 1970s when I used to be on the crew. Even film stars or rich businessmen who got drunk, went quietly to sleep, and disembarked when asked to. Domestic flights did not serve booze back then.” 


Ladia blames the changing landscape of affordable airline travel and bad rationing of alcohol as the main reasons for such behaviour in flights nowadays. “Our first instinct is to calm them down, and speak to them if they get unruly. If nothing works, we are advised to call the first pilot to address the situation. 

As per NDTV reports, the incident with Shankar Mishra was the cabin crew’s fault. In the Air India flight, the victim wasn’t even offered a replacement seat, and had to sit on the same wet seat with some blankets thrown on top for added comfort.

According to a former pilot, who preferred not to share his name, every flight crew does the basic prep of gauging the passengers when they enter, if they look like they have been drinking at the terminal or if they seem rude from the get go, so they are mentally aware of how to deal with them once they depart. He said, “If an incident like this happened in my flight, my first response would be to cuff the man and keep him detained till the landing ideally.” But he also posits that a given crew can work on up to five flights a day and, at the end of a long day, they too just want to go home like the rest of us who start unlocking our seatbelts even before the flight hits the tarmac.


Clinical psychologist Rutuja Thukarul affirms that the aggression on display in such cases is based on the Instinct theory of Aggression. This means that this aggressive energy usually builds up until it finds an outlet (for a lot of men it’s at sports or racing matches). And since alcohol lowers inhibitions, it leads to several men becoming primal. She said, “The way anger has evolved for humans is very different from other animals. We have similar traits, but the complexity of our relationships with people prevents us from displaying aggression on a daily basis because we don’t have to fight for resources or hunt for food.” 

So, when this anger does manifest, it depends on who is in front of them. “When a man who is extremely drunk has no inhibitions, and wants to degrade a person without their consent, pissing on them becomes an act of power play, a way to degrade them,” said Thukarul. 

According to Jakhmola, arguing with a drunk person is like trying to fight a wild animal. “An alcoholic internally minimises the effects of alcohol in their brain and maximises the joy they derive from it,” he said. In most cases that he has observed, it’s the family that has to drag someone dealing with alcoholism to a de-addiction facility, and it’s rarely of their own volition. 

But when it comes to general safety and hygiene, can we keep excusing such unruly behaviour on flights? Or should inebriated passengers be kept on flight mode until they land, with a tiny cabin reserved just for them to be drunk and miserable?

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