An Indian airline has launched a new service for women flying solo that assigns them either the window or the aisle, but never a middle seat.

Domestic carrier Vistara has rolled out the Woman Flyer programme, created to protect female fliers from predatory seatmates and make them feel safe during their flight.

Incidents of sexual assaults in India, particularly on public transport, have sparked concern amongst locals and visitors alike over the last few years, prompting many a foreign office to issue travel advisories.

The US State Department warns against women travelling solo in India, and the use of public transport after dark without the company of trusted companions.

Vistara’s Women Flyer programme gives women travelling alone preferred seating, so that they won’t be caught in the middle seat, sandwiched between two men on a flight.

It’s a move that follows Air India, which now reserves a few rows of seats for female passengers travelling solo. The designation follows in-flight incidents in which women alleged they had been groped by male travellers.

“The heights that women around the world have scaled needs no validation,” said Vistara spokeswoman Deepa Chadha in a statement.

“Women are a major force that makes economies stronger and societies healthier.”

The Vistara service also includes baggage and transportation assistance on arrival for women travelling alone. – AFP Relaxnews