After a Mumbai-Bangkok flight was grounded, fliers were shifted to another aircraft scheduled to ferry 43 passengers to London; the latter group, now stranded, were then accommodated in another plane to Delhi, which was delayed by more than three hours
Another technical snag in an Air India flight not only vexed passengers on board, but also delayed those flying in other aircraft of the national carrier. At the end of the ordeal, some 267 fliers were left frustrated. On Tuesday morning, flight AI 330, flying from Goa to Bangkok via Mumbai, was grounded at T2 due to a technical snag.
Not only were passengers flying to London delayed as they had to be accommodated in a Delhi-bound flight, but the Mumbai-Delhi-Shanghai flight was also delayed by more than three hours
The airline then decided to use aircraft AI 131, which was originally intended to fly 43 passengers at 7 am from the city to London. The now-stranded passengers were asked to adjust in AI 348, scheduled to fly at 8.15 am from Mumbai to Shanghai via Delhi. They were told that once they reach Delhi, the airline would accommodate them in a London flight scheduled to depart at 3.11 pm.
This chain of events not only put London-bound passengers to inconvenience, but also delayed the Mumbai-Delhi-Shanghai flight by more than three hours, leading to chaos and agitation among passengers. “The airline’s staff would not entertain us at all.
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It was much later that we were informed that the flight was not going to take off due to a technical snag. However, we could see our aircraft standing at the apron. I had an important board meeting in Delhi,” said Vikas Joshi, a passenger of flight AI 348.
Another passenger, Jasdeep Singh, decided to fly by another carrier. “I had meetings lined up in Delhi from 11 am. However, by the time this flight would have landed I would have missed them.
My hotel bookings were already in place, but I decided to postpone my meetings and take another flight tomorrow,” said Singh, adding, “The in-flight crew was not even courteous enough to offer passengers a bottle of water for the 45 minutes that we were waiting on board.”
A passenger from flight AI 131, who was asked to shift to another plane, said, “I have been waiting for the flight since 5 am and I am horrified by the way the situation is being handled. None of the ground staff is replying to our queries and they are quite rude to the passengers.
At 7 am, they gave us a bogus excuse of technical snag. We will now be accommodated in AI 348 till Delhi and from there we will be accommodated in another flight that does not leave before 3.11 pm. Which means we will have to wait for another hour and a half. If there is so much mismanagement here, I wonder what the situation will be in Delhi.”
Passengers also alleged that it was only when they agitated that the airline staff started arranging for the aircraft. A senior official from the airline admitted, “The issue is not only technical snags, but also shortage of staff and pilots, which has led to an increase in similar incidents.
The airline is witnessing almost two to three technical problems every day, which is delaying other scheduled flights, as passengers have to be re-adjusted.” Responding to the allegations of staff’s rude behaviour with passengers, another airline official said, “Whenever there is a delay, passengers usually get agitated which leads to arguments. Both passengers and the staff are to be blamed for it.”
Problems for AI 348 passengers did not end even in Delhi. After the flight landed at Terminal 3, they could not disembark immediately as there was no aerobridge. Adding to their misery, for more than half an hour after landing, passengers did not know where to collect their baggage.
Recent AI delays
>> On Monday, several AI flights were delayed on the Ahmedabad-Mumbai-Delhi route, stranding more than 800 passengers
>> On Saturday, a Mumbai-Riyadh flight was delayed by eight hours. It was first rescheduled from 1 pm to 5 pm as the incoming Riyadh-Mumbai flight was delayed. The 230 passengers were further delayed due to air traffic congestion in Mumbai, and again as the aircraft had an engineering requirement. It finally departed at 7.50 pm
>> On Thursday, a Mumbai-Indore-Delhi flight was delayed due to a technical snag for four hours. The aircraft was scheduled to arrive at Devi Ahilyabai Holkar Airport (Indore) at 7.15 am and depart at 7.50 am. It, however, arrived at 11.15 am and departed at 11.50 am. Around 70-80 passengers were stranded at the airport
Chain of delays
>> 5.05 am: Flight AI 131 lands at T2, expected to take off for London at 7 am
>> 7 am: Passengers were informed that their flight has been cancelled, without being provided any explanation. At the same time, passengers for flight AI 348 were checking in for the
>> 8.15 am: flight to Shanghai via Delhi
>> 8.15 am: Passengers of both flights were then informed that AI 131 had a technical snag and would be adjusted in the Delhi-bound flight. Plane was expected to take off by this time, but they were only allowed to board by then
>> 10.30 am: Agitated passengers deboarded the plane
>> 11.15 am: Passengers boarded the flight again
>> 11.45 am: AI 348 took off from T2 airport
>> 1.30 pm: Flight landed at IGI airport, after which passengers had to wait in the plane for half an hour as there was no aerobridge
>> 2 pm: Passengers deplaned and moved to the baggage collection areas, where they had to wait again
>> 2.45 pm: Passengers finally left the IGI airport after collecting baggage
The other side
The official spokesperson of Air India said, “Boeing 787 (AI 131) had to be used for passengers of AI 330, and therefore passengers of the former plane had to be shifted to AI 348. The airline is working towards rectifying the technical snags.”
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