Air India
In picture: An Air India aircraft.IANS File Photo

A 40-year-old man travelling from Mumbai to Newark in the US on an Air India flight was handed over to police on arrival after he touched a woman passenger inappropriately

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The man was seated on row 8F, in business class, asked to be moved to economy saying that his colleague was sitting there and they had to complete some work.

However, he occupied the seat next to a woman who was sitting alone and put his hands on the woman's breasts while she slept. She woke up when he groped her and complained to the cabin crew. 

The AI 191 crew found the woman crying in the rear galley four hours after the flight took off at 2am on December 21. She shouted at him, warned him and then walked away to find the cabin crew. 

"The alleged molester was assigned business class seat 8F, which is in the second row of the aircraft (it was a two-configuration aircraft, business and economy). He told the cabin crew in the business section of the Boeing 777 that he would be sitting in the economy section as his colleague was there and they had to complete some work," sources told TOI.

The crew confronted the man when the woman complained. He said he was a frequent economy-class flyer and couldn't sleep in business class. He said he sat next to the woman because it was a vacant seat. When the woman did not relent and said she would be filing a written complaint to the authorities in the US, he started groveling. 

He requested the crew meet the woman and apologise on his behalf and say that he accidentally touched her while he was asleep, but the woman refused to meet him. 

He wrote a six-page apology letter begging "please do not let a moment's stupidity on my part kill my children's future. I beg of you. I know I should have thought of these things before... I acknowledge I was stupid. Please do not let everyone suffer because of me". He also said that his daughter was only 11 and he had a "handicapped brother". 

"I wish I could rewind time and correct what has happened. But please do not let five minutes of stupidity kill what I have worked on for 40 years... Because of the immigration status we are in, it means punishment for all linked to me," he wrote, according to the TOI.

The cabin crew alerted the captain to the incident and were instructed to call airport police on arrival.