Seven-hour flight turns into 60-hour ordeal for AI passengers

The Delhi-bound passengers from Italy ended up spending almost a day at Mumbai airport, after the flight was diverted to the city two times due to a dense fog above New Delhi airport

A seven-hour flight from Milan, Italy to New Delhi took almost 60 hours to reach its final destination. After an initial delay at Milan due to adverse weather conditions, Air India flight 0122 was originally expected to land in New Delhi on December 24. However, the flight was diverted to Mumbai twice, due to dense fog in the Capital, too. The 259 agitated passengers had to wait at Mumbai airport for almost a day before they were finally flown to Delhi on Christmas afternoon.

Graphic/Amit Bandre

Kshitij Srivastava, a passenger from the flight, told mid-day, “The flight was originally expected to leave Milan on December 23, 2.50 am (IST). However, the weather conditions did not permit the flight to take off till December 24, 12.30 am (IST).”
The flight, which was expected to reach New Delhi within seven hours, was circling over Indira Gandhi International Airport around 9 am, when passengers were informed that they could not land due to thick fog and poor visibility. The aircraft had to be diverted to Mumbai airport.

The flight landed at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport at 12.50 pm on Wednesday, with the airline assuring passengers that they would arrange for another aircraft to fly them to New Delhi in a couple of hours. The passengers, however, could only board the new aircraft by 8 pm, which took off after another delay of 1.5 hours at 9.30 pm due to crew unavailability.

A flier who did not wish to be named said, “All the passengers were furious with the delay. What’s worse, because we had to move to another aircraft, we had to go through the entire process of check out through immigration and then check in, again.”
So close, yet so far However, passengers were still not successful in reaching their destination. Around 200 km away from the Capital, the pilot of the Boeing 747 informed them that they would have to return to Mumbai again, citing the same reasons. The flight landed in the city at 1 am on December 25.

After waiting for another 10 hours, the flight finally took off from Mumbai at 11.30 am yesterday and reached its destination at 1.30 pm. Twenty-two-year-old Nitesh Verma, a student from Milan, was travelling to New Delhi to spend his 10-day vacation with his family. “I lost almost four days’ time that I was to spend with my family.”

Another passenger, Harshit Srivastava, who had a connecting flight from Delhi to Kolkata, said, “Since the repeated attempts of reaching New Delhi failed, immigrations finally allowed me to take a flight from Mumbai to Kolkata and I reached by 9 am on December 25.”

The other side

Official spokesperson of Air India told mid-day, “The flight was made to land in Mumbai due to fog and poor visibility in Delhi on both December 24 and 25. The safety of passengers is more important than delay of any flight. The flight landed in Delhi safely on Thursday afternoon.” 

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