Passengers, relatives relive trauma at airport

Manisha Jha

Agitated over not being informed on the latest situation

‘Two to three men who appeared drunk misbehaved with the air hostess’

‘A ruckus erupted prompting the pilot to delay the de-boarding process’

NEW DELHI: For Hauz Khas resident Suman Bhatia it was an unending wait for over two-and-a-half hours at Delhi airport on Sunday evening to receive her daughter on board the Indigo flight that was originally scheduled to arrive from Goa at 5-45 p.m.

Visibly agitated at the Indigo staff for their failure to keep her informed on the latest situation of passengers in the unfolding drama, Ms. Bhatia lashed out: “I waited at the airport for almost three hours and the Indigo staff was still not able to tell me what the latest situation was. They were just repeating what they told me earlier and it was all very frustrating.” “I spoke to my daughter before my mobile phone battery died out around 5-45 p.m. and she told me that her flight had landed but she did not have any idea as to why they were not being allowed to deplane.”

Though the official statement released by Indigo Airlines chief Aditya Ghosh, who was present on the site, clarified that all 161 passengers on board were safe, most relatives were perplexed and demanded further information on when the passengers would finally be allowed to come out.

It was around 9 p.m. that the first of the passengers Bishamber Botia made an appearance and was questioned by an eagerly awaiting crowd of jostling media persons.

Narrating his version of the event, Mr. Botia said: “Two to three men who appeared drunk misbehaved with the air hostess who was sitting at the rear end of the flight. When she informed the flight steward of their misbehaviour, a ruckus erupted prompting the pilot to delay the de-boarding process.”

However, several other passengers had a different tale to recount. Pawan Sahani of Lakhimpur Kheeri, who was also on board the same flight, said: “The entire delay was simply about nothing at all. The pilot kept announcing that the passengers would be allowed to deplane in five more minutes but that never happened leaving us stuck inside for two and a half hours.”

“Upon finally deplaning we were surrounded by commandos and made to go through an elaborate security check. Our luggage too was not returned to us and we were told to return to the airport on Monday to collect our check-in baggage,” he added.

Echoing similar sentiments, another harassed passenger Rahul Thakur said: “The fact that we had landed but were stuck inside the plane for almost three hours for no apparent reason was disgusting. No one informed us what was causing the delay. The entire thing was a big sham.” According to a passenger at the international wing of the Indira Gandhi International Airport, as soon as news of the hijack alert broke out all television screens at the terminal were promptly switched off to prevent panic among passengers. Frisking was also intensified with passengers being requested to take off their shoes during security check.

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