The Elliots swear never to return. The Austrian couple had a harrowing five days in ‘incredible’ India.
In the country to attend a friend’s wedding, their Air India (AI) flight to Srinagar was cancelled on Saturday.
The AI strike ensured more surprises and their return flight to Delhi was taken off the tarmac.
Scores of foreigners were left stranded as the standoff between pilots and officials of the airline entered its fourth day on Tuesday.
“I spent Rs 22,000 for two tickets on a private airline. There was no option but to fly back from Srinagar. The promised refund means little,” said Tim Elliot.
His partner Jessica Leonard was skeptical about their flight back home on the same airline.
AI officials at Terminal 1A of Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport claimed that all grievances were being addressed. “Refund is not the only suggestion. I have personally escorted many passengers to Terminal 1D and made them board other flights (subject to availability),” said a customer executive of Air India.
Passengers, on the other hand, painted a different picture. “The AI office here is as unhelpful as the one at Dubai airport. I managed to reach Delhi but my AI flight to Patna stands cancelled,” said Rendell Mathews (47), another passenger.
“I am expected to purchase as well as bear the over-head charges if I travel by another airline. This is unfair.” Some like Mary Wangloo (35) of Rwanda tried all means to get alternate tickets.
“I have been told to get the refund at the AI office in Safdarjung but I am new to the city. I do not have enough money to buy the more expensive tickets on alternate flights,” said the NGO worker.
Most foreigners do not want to venture into the city and wait for the strike to end.
“I would have flown out today had my flight to London not been cancelled. My tourist visa expires in two days and I have to leave at all costs,” said Janet Milflour (32).
With close to 14 domestic and four international AI flights out of Delhi airport cancelled and ground staff threatening to join the strike, passenger harassment is set to continue in the days to come.
With the agitation by Air India executive pilots leading to cancellation of scores of flights for the fourth consecutive day, Railways today started operating ‘May I Help You’ booths at major airports, including Delhi, for the benefit of stranded passengers.
The Railways would be attaching an additional coach to each superfast train to carry the extra passengers.