Shooters Anjali Vedpathak Bhagwat and Heena Sidhu had to spend a sleepless Tuesday night outside Bangkok airport on their way back home from Busan, South Korea.
This was after Jet Airways refused to carry their weapons citing incomplete documents. Interestingly, the Arjuna awardees, who were in Korea for the World Cup, didn’t face a problem with Korean Air while flying from Busan to Bangkok, where they were to board the connecting flight to Mumbai.
Left in the lurch, the shooters had no option but to book another flight back home. Eventually, they boarded an Air India flight with the same documents for their weapons.
Heena and Anjali reached Bangkok around 12.30am and could leave only at 8am. As the two had to step out of the terminal to arrange for tickets through the federation, they had to wait outside till early morning. Moreover, they had to shell out $800 for the extra baggage to Air India, something they had already done once to Korean Air when they had boarded the flight from Busan.
“It was harassment. We were not only forced to arrange for tickets, but also had to spend the night outside Bangkok airport. It all happened because of the ignorance of the Jet Airways staff about sports weapons and the documents we were carrying,” said Heena, who landed in Mumbai on Wednesday evening.
“While returning from Busan with Korean Air, we had a transit at Bangkok for the Jet flight to India, but were informed there by Korean Air officials that Jet Airways had refused to take the weapons along. So we had to take another flight. We were left with no option but to get new tickets and for that we had to go to the counter outside the terminal,” she added.
“First, we got visa on arrival and then went to the Jet Airways counter to enquire about the matter where security manager Shailesh Gala told us that our documents were incomplete. That’s why they didn’t allow the weapons. When we argued that we had DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) permission to carry the weapons from India to Busan, he said ‘back’ was not mentioned in the permission. When we asked him to give it in writing the basis on which they had denied us permission to carry the weapons, he refused,” said Heena.
Despite repeated attempts, Jet Airways could not be contacted for a reaction.