AI flies ditched passenger from Toronto to Delhi on 'priority'

On April 30, MiD DAY brought to the notice of top Air India management the matter of a commuter — an aspiring Indian pilot — who was allegedly deliberately delayed and then declared a no-show by its staffers at Toronto’s Pearson Airport for a flight to Delhi. Within hours, Air India officials at its Mumbai headquarters swung into action and a clear message was sent to the Toronto office: “Accommodate this passenger on the next flight on priority basis.”

The account of the travails of Vinish Vincent George were published yesterday by this paper (‘Marooned at Toronto airport over Rs 1800 dues’). Senior officials at Air India headquarters here told MiD DAY that as soon as the matter came to their notice they asked their Toronto office to help the passenger at the earliest. “We were not aware of the entire issue. Once it came to our attention, we asked the Toronto office to book the passenger in the next available flight,” a senior official told MiD DAY. Earlier on April 30, the Air India public relations officer had blamed the traveller for not cooperating with the airline’s staff at Toronto airport, and, as a result, missing the flight.

George (24) never expected that things would change around for him in just a few hours. “I did not anticipate that the rude airline officials at Toronto airport, who deliberately delayed me from boarding the flight on April 29, would become so friendly the next day. Around 1.30 pm (11 pm IST) I was sitting at one corner of the Toronto airport, when an Air India duty staffer asked me to report to the boarding counter. I was informed that I have been accommodated in a flight and when I asked whether I would have to pay the difference in fare, the answer was ‘no’,” George informed, before proceeding for security check. He boarded with just one bag under permissible weight limits.

“I want to thank the Air India officials who entertained the matter on priority. He will first land in Delhi on Tuesday and then take another flight to Thiruvananthapuram to reach us,” said Ushan George, the passenger’s mother. The Air India spokesperson could not be reached for comment despite repeated attempts by MiD DAY.

Weighty issues
On May 1, MiD DAY highlighted the case of Vinish Vincent George, who alleged that Air India staffers deliberately made him miss his flight to India as he fell short by 35 of the 555 Canadian dollars he had to pay as excess baggage fee. George says he had offered to give a written undertaking that he would pay the rest of the money on reaching India, but his pleas were not entertained by Air India representatives at Pearson Airport, who were ‘rude’ and ‘unhelpful’. 

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