Couple Get Married Mid-flight on Plane Filled With Guests to Exploit Lockdown Loophole

An Indian couple were married midair on a chartered flight in front of more than 160 friends and family on Sunday.

The bride and groom, from Madurai in southern India, hired the chartered flight seemingly in order to avoid extended government lockdowns in the state of Tamil Nadu.

Local reporter Donthu Ramesh shared a video of the wedding ceremony to Twitter on Sunday. In the short clip, many of the guests can be seen flouting coronavirus regulations by not wearing a mask on board as others stand and walk along the aisle.

Ramesh said the couple, known only as Rakesh and Dheekshana, rented the SpiceJet plane for two hours and flew from Madurai to Bangalore, before flying back to Madurai.

Also got this forward, @flyspicejet crew with pics after marriage.

— Tarun Shukla (@shukla_tarun) May 24, 2021

The flight's journey was also reportedly captured on flightradar24, showing the Boeing 737 leaving Madurai on the Sunday before circling Tenkasi, briefly crossing into the state of Kerala and then returning back to its original destination.

In another video shared by reporter Tarun Shukla, the couple strike a pose as the camera pans down the aircraft.

The flight was reportedly booked by a travel agent in Madurai on May 23 and was intended to be a "joy ride" for a group of passengers after the original wedding, which took place last week.

The couple tied the knot as their chartered aircraft hovered over the historic Hindu Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple, according to sources who spoke with the New Indian Express.

Rakesh-Dakshina from Madurai, who rented a plane for two hours and got married in the wedding sky. Family members who flew from Madurai to Bangalore after getting married by SpiceJet flight from Bangalore to Madurai. #COVID19India #lockdown @TV9Telugu #weddingrestrictions

— DONTHU RAMESH (@DonthuRamesh) May 23, 2021

The pair claimed that all passengers were their relatives who had tested negative, India Today reported.

"The client was clearly briefed on Covid guidelines to be followed and denied permission for any activity to be performed on board," a SpiceJet spokesperson told the New Indian Express. "The group was repeatedly briefed on the safety norms to be followed by the operating cabin crew and advised to follow the protocols laid down by DGCA [Directorate General of Civil Aviation] including restrictions on photography and videography."

As the passengers did not adhere to Covid guidelines, the airline said they will be taking "appropriate action as per rules."

The DGCA has also initiated an inquiry, the publication reported.

Current regulations in the state of Tamil Nadu stipulate that a wedding must not exceed 50 guests.

Officials appear to be stumped as to whether charges should be laid and under which jurisdiction any potential violations would fall.

Madurai Superintendent of Police Sujith Kumar said that authorities have yet to take a decision on whether a case should be registered in the city or rural limits, calling the incident a "peculiar violation."

Madurai airport director S Senthil Valavan said that the private airline had applied for the charter flight service and the airport authorities had approved it.

​"The authorities from the airport were not aware of the mid-air marriage. There is a clear violation of Covid precautionary norms," he told the New Indian Express.

A senior DGCA official told The Times of India that the airline's staff had been taken off duty, and the airline had been directed to file complaints against those flouting COVID-19 protocols.

A photo shared by reporter Donthu Ramesh appears to show members of the flight crew posing for a picture with the newlyweds inside the aircraft, prompting many to speculate the airline knew about the wedding in advance.

Tamil Nadu remains under lockdown until May 31 in order to stem the spread of the disease in the wake of surging numbers of coronavirus cases in the state.

Newsweek has contacted SpiceJet for comment.

File photo: An aircraft of airline Spicejet lands at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi on September 8, 2012. An Indian couple were married midair on a chartered flight in front of more than 160 guests on Sunday in an apparent attempt to circumvent COVID restrictions. RAVEENDRAN/Getty Images