Air India has done it again. On Sunday it took its AI-187 flight to Toronto via Birmingham leaving behind around 100 passengers stranded at the Rajasansi International Airport near here.
Fuming passengers and their associates, who had come to see them off, raised anti-airlines slogans and chased the AI officials, who sensing the mood, managed to flee.
In the absence of senior AI officials, lower staff did not know how to react to the growing anguish of passengers and their supporters, who were hurling abuses and castigating the airlines’ behaviour. The passengers described the situation as worse than a railway station or even a bus stand.
Interestingly, AI repeated its fault within a fortnight of noted journalist Kuldip Nayyar lodging an FIR against the AI for disallowing him to board the plane to New Delhi from this place despite valid booking.
A waiting passenger Tejinder Kaur, who is pregnant, was ruing the decision to book an AI flight to reach her home in Toronto.
“You may understand my position. I am six months pregnant and I had an appointment with doctor for a thorough check up. But, AI officials have refused to let me board the flight for which I reserved a seat three months ago,” she said. Mandeep Singh, who had come to see off Toronto-based octogenarian Pritam Kaur, said his aunt is a heart patient.
Dr Jaswant Singh said they were forced to take this flight as there was no substitute flight on the same route. He said that the AI officials responsible for overbooking must be brought to book.
Another passenger Kuldeep Kaur said that she had paid Rs 6,000 for taxi to reach the airport from Shirdoolgarh (Mansa), to hear from the AI officials to come again on Wednesday.
For Ajaib Singh Sran the situation was worse, out of three members of his family, two were allowed to board the plane and one was left behind. Moreover, he said that the behaviour of the AI authorities was very rude and they did not have even the curtsey to apologize and arrange for the food and stay of the passengers till the next flight was arranged.
However, AI Station Manager Ashwani Arora claimed that only 56 passengers could not board the plane. “This happened because of reducing the number of flights from five to three from Amritsar to Toronto,” Arora said adding that number of flights would remain three till May end.