The city airport’s domestic terminal was nearly empty on Thursday afternoon when Marol-based businessman Karan Nichlani reached the airport at 2 pm.
But the quiet terminals soon turned chaotic because airlines were unable process boarding cards. Construction workers relaying the secondary runway had damaged the crucial data cable used by airlines to issue boarding cards.
“For more than 30 minutes I was standing in the check-in queue without any information on the glitch,” said the 37-year-old, who was going on a business trip to Jaipur.
The glitch lasted for more than five hours and disrupted the journey of hundreds for travellers like Nichlani. He got a manually issued boarding card after standing in the queue for about 40 minutes.
The Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) set up make shift check-in counters but long queues continued to crowd the terminal.
“Imagine standing in a queue with three pieces of baggage,” rued Manoj Shimpi (55), who was travelling to Delhi.
“My back was paining by the time I got the boarding card,” he added.
Security personnel were on their toes to tackle the sudden crowd. “Baggage was scattered across the terminals. Given the terror alert, it was difficult situation,” said a Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) official, requesting anonymity.
In case an unclaimed baggage is found the paramilitary force is supposed to evacuate the terminal and summon the bomb detection and disposal squad. “It is difficult to identify unclaimed baggage in such a situation,” said the CISF official.
Airport sources told Hindustan Times that the MIAL would be submitting a report on the incident to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.