Man with boarding pass for Kuwait ends up in Colombo!

Jul 16, 2015, 07:26 IST | Neha LM Tripathi

Jet Airways staff at Mumbai airport failed to verify boarding pass when he came to wrong boarding gate, and sent him to Sri Lanka; passenger realised he was in the wrong country after getting off plane

Visiting a new country may be exciting for most people but not for this man from Punjab, who ended up in the wrong country after the staffers of the airline he was travelling with failed to verify his boarding pass. The airline realised their goof-up and got the passenger back to Mumbai and sent him off to the correct destination.

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This was the first time Kashmiri Lal was boarding a flight from Mumbai international airport
This was the first time Kashmiri Lal was boarding a flight from Mumbai international airport

The incident occurred with Kashmiri Lal, a 39-year-old resident of Ganna Pind, a village in Jalandhar, Punjab. Lal, a mason, was supposed to go to Kuwait for a job and arrived at Terminal 2 of the Mumbai international airport on July 14 from Delhi. Lal had travelled to the city by Jet Airways flight 9W 352 (Delhi-Mumbai), which arrived here at 5.05 pm.

Lal was then supposed to take Jet Airways flight 9W 572 (Mumbai-Kuwait), which was scheduled to depart from Mumbai at 5.52 pm. But, instead of boarding the Kuwait-bound Boeing 737-800 aircraft, Lal ended up in flight 9W 252 (Mumbai-Colombo), which departs from the city at around 6.05 pm.

According to senior airport officials, the error occurred because both the aircraft were parked at the same aerobridge. An airport official said, “Each aerobridge has two boarding gates. Both the aircraft were parked in the same aerobridge (number 65), but at different boarding gates.

This led to the passenger entering the incorrect aircraft. It is the airline’s responsibility to check the passenger’s boarding pass before he enters the aircraft. If that had been done, this incident wouldn’t have happened. This is a lapse on the airline’s part.” The officer further asserted that such oversight could pose a security threat to the airport.

Meanwhile, Lal’s family in Punjab got a call in the afternoon from a relative who was supposed to receive him, saying that Lal never made it to Kuwait. His wife, Vidya, told mid-day, “We were very worried when we got the call saying he hadn’t landed in Kuwait. He does not have a phone with him, and, hence, we couldn’t contact him.”

The family Vidya, their two daughters, and a son agonised for hours wondering what had become of Lal since there was no way to get in touch with him. Jaswinder Lal, Kashmiri’s brother, explained that though Lal had earlier worked in Dubai, this was the first time he was boarding a flight from Mumbai. “He had been in Dubai to work as a mason with one of our relatives.

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He has been abroad once and returned, and now has gone to Kuwait to work again,” he said. According to airport officials, Lal told them that when the airline staff at Colombo realised the mix-up, they arranged for him to return to Mumbai by flight 9W 251, which departed at 7 pm (IST) from Colombo and reached Mumbai at 12.15 am yesterday.

He was then made to sit in the transit waiting area since then. It was only 17 hours later that Lal could take off in flight 9W 572. Airline officials confirmed that Lal had boarded the correct flight this time; the plane departed from T2 at around 6 pm on Wednesday.

His family in Punjab was finally able to heave a sigh of relief after being told that their loved one had finally left for where he intended to go. Confirming the incident, a Jet Airways spokesperson said, “The matter is under investigation. The airline ensured that the guest was escorted and assisted to travel to his original destination.”

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