Air India flights to hill stations offload baggage, passengers miffed

An Air India flight from Dharamshala arrived at Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport in Delhi on Thursday night without the check-in luggage of passengers which had to be offloaded due to ‘weight issues’. AI said that the flights from hills are mandated to carry less weight in case of bad weather.

delhi Updated: Aug 05, 2017 07:12 IST
Faizan Haidar
Faizan Haidar
Hindustan Times
Air India,Air India fights to Shimla,AI flights to Kullu Manali
Sources in Air India said that the flights from hills are mandated to carry less weight in case of bad weather. In some cases the baggage might be offloaded at the last moment. Flights from other cities – Shimla and Kullu are often see baggages being offloaded, with a majority of them often getting cancelled too. (Raj K Raj/HT Photo)

An Air India flight from Dharamshala arrived at Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport in Delhi on Thursday night without the check-in luggage of passengers which had to be offloaded due to ‘weight issues’.

Passengers aboard Air India flight AI 9714 claimed that they were not informed about their baggage being offloaded and got to know about it only after they landed at IGI.

Some passengers said they had their medicines in the luggage, while others said they had important documents in the check-in luggage which was left behind at Dharmshala airport. The passengers were later told that it will take a day for the luggage to reach them.

Sources in Air India said that the flights from hills are mandated to carry less weight in case of bad weather. In some cases the baggage might be offloaded at the last moment. Flights from other cities – Shimla and Kullu are often see baggages being offloaded, with a majority of them often getting cancelled too.

Due to the height at which the runway is located and heavy wind speed and rain, the pilot had to check the weight of the aircraft before taking off, Air India sources said.

“We reached the Delhi airport around 7pm and made our way to the luggage belt. There we waited for almost 20 minutes, but our bags did not come. When we enquired, we were told that our bags had been left at Dharmshala itself. They did not have the courtesy to inform us in Dharmshala and not even when we reached Delhi airport,” said Rajiv Rai, who was on board AI 9714 on Thursday.

“I have given clear instructions to offload the luggage in case a pilot feels that the weight of an aircraft is too much for take-off. We cannot compromise with the safety of passengers and baggage is the first thing we offload. However, we immediately start the process to send it by road after offloading it. We infact had to carry jsut 20 passengers in a 70-seater plane because of the load issue,” said Alliance Air CEO CS Subbiah.

According to Rai, there was one passenger who was a cancer patient and his medicines were in the bag. There was another who had to go to Russia but had his documents in the check-in luggage.

“There were many others with similar problems. Had they told us there, we would have kept at least some important items in our hand baggage,” said Rai.

Monsoon rains have spoilt the travel plans of many tourists to Shimla and Kullu as Air India has been cancelling flights due to bad weather.

The airline has cancelled three flights in the last four days to Shimla from Delhi keeping in mind the safety of passengers at the hill city’s tabletop runway with surrounding gorges. A flight to Kullu went all the way there but returned as it could not land due to bad weather.

Sources said more cancellations are anticipated in the coming days due to weather.

An Air India official said that due to the topography of Himachal Pradesh and height at which the runway is located, weight is a major issue and the aircraft has to carry less than full capacity for safety.

The airline operates ATR-42, a 48-seater aircraft which takes only 35 passengers from Delhi and only 15 passengers on its way back.

First Published: Aug 04, 2017 23:55 IST