On Friday morning, almost every flyer was trapped at the Delhi airport - starry-eyed couples on their honeymoon, business executives, tourists. Fatigue was writ large on their faces for they were tired of the long wait and the apathy of the airlines.
After the season's worst fog grounded the airlines and affected 350 flights, in a severe violation of rules most airlines forced passengers to sit inside the plane for as long as six hours. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had asked airlines not to initiate boarding if there was fog, but most airlines chose to do so in order to depart first.
"My Indigo flight to Agartala was scheduled to depart at 6.10am and we boarded the plane around 5.30am. The next five hours were horrible as the airline staff kept telling us that flight will take off shortly. There were children on the plane who kept crying. But instead of shifting us back to the terminal, the airline staff asked us to remain seated," said Aishwarya Singh (name changed on request). The Indigo flight 6E 273 finally took off at 10.45am.
According to airport sources, the airlines flout rules to take off as soon as the fog lifts. But most of the time, they end up harassing the passengers, who have no option but to wait.
A Pune-bound passenger too had a similar experience to share. His Indigo flight was scheduled for 8.40am and despite Met department's prediction of fog clearing only after 10:30am, the airline asked the passengers to board the plane.
"As the visibility was almost zero, we somehow reached the airport on time from Ghaziabad. When the airline knew about the situation, they could have easily messaged us about the delay. My plane finally took off at 11am," said Rakesh Verma (name changed).