Rohil Paralkar boarded a GoAir flight to Jammu from Mumbai on Tuesday morning. But he reached the tourist destination in a bus on Wednesday evening.
Paralkar was among the 120 flyers from the city that were stuck for several hours at Srinagar airport without food. They wrestled their way into a public transport bus and were stopped by local policemen for violating transport norms that prohibit road travel post 6pm.
“The experience is making me repent the decision of spending so much on airfare,” said Paralkar, who works with an advertising agency in the city. The flight scheduled to leave from Mumbai at 9.50am on Tuesday took off nearly three hours late.
Midway through the journey the pilot announced that the flight would be diverted to Srinagar as the visibility in Jammu was below the permissible limit for landing.
However, all food stalls at the Srinagar airport were shut when the flight landed there. “We survived only on biscuits,” said Vijay Hindalekar, another passenger.
As the visibility kept deteriorating, airline officials asked the passengers to take a bus to Jammu. But their nightmare did not end there.
The local police stopped the bus at the Khanobal checkpoint on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway because the bus did not have the requisite permit for the journey, said passengers. “Imagine being stopped by policemen on a pitch dark highway,” said Paralkar.
Police had stopped all vehicles from crossing the Srinagar boundary after sunset. “How come the airline management wasn’t aware of the rule?” said another passenger.
The airline, however, said the buses returned to Srinagar because the roads were slippery and the journey was unsafe.
By now most passengers had lost their cool. As a result two airline staffers put them in a hotel.
Kaushik Khona, chief executive officer, GoAir, claimed that all the stranded passengers were flown to Jammu on Wednesday at no extra cost.
However, passengers refuted this claiming that they wasted a day because the airline put them in a bus that took eight hours to reach the city.