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Passengers' story

Hindustan Times tracked some passengers to find out exactly how much time it takes to board a flight. Only the Lamba family was lucky; Sanjay Kumar and Komal Kaushik missed their flights.
Hindustan Times | By HT Correspondent, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 03, 2008 02:08 AM IST

The Lamba family five-hour ordeal

Toronto resident Gagan Lamba (34) had come on a visit to India with wife Naunidhi (32) to celebrate their daughter Sifty’s first birthday. They managed to catch their flight but the experience was traumatic. They don’t want to come back for two years — till their daughter grows up a little and the IGI Airport is renovated.

February 28, 2007

10.05 pm The Lamba family reached IGI Airport to catch their Air France flight with sufficient three-and-a-half hours in hand. It took some time to unload their baggage and find a trolley.

“The crowd at the entry was huge and I didn’t see such a long queue six months ago when I last visited,” Naunidhi said. “We were confused about which gate to queue at and finally got in the queue from Gate-I. We were pushed around. I requested the guards to let us in because we had a one-year-old baby. World over they have shorter queues for passengers traveling with babies. But here, the guard shouted at me, calling me stupid because I traveling with a small baby,” she said.

10.54 pm The Lamba’s had four extra bags and getting them screened took some time at the X-ray machines.

11.26 pm Checking-in at the airline counter was the easiest part of the journey for Lamba’s. “This counter was being managed by Air France staff and the process was smooth,” Naunidhi said.

11.42 pm The biggest bottleneck awaited them at the immigration counters. “By this time Sifty was feeling sick and crying uncontrollably. It was hot and chaotic. We were tense as the departure time was approaching and there wasn’t enough to time to even change Sifty’s diapers,” she said.

12.50 am By this time the Lamba’s had hit the panic button as the departure time of 1.30 am was approaching. “The security check also took a lot of time and we were running to reach the boarding point. Gagan and I were out of breath,” she said.

1.20 am The Lamba’s managed to reach the boarding point just in time. “After we finally reached the security hold, it turned out the flight was delayed by two hours as most passengers had failed to make it in time. We heard a passenger had fainted while waiting at a counter,” Gagan said. “For three and half hours, we were completely out of our wits. It felt like we had just played a rugby match,” Gagan said. “On board, the biggest joke was that Indians passengers are reaching late globally because IGIA is under renovation,” she said.

3.30 am The plane finally took off. “Passengers were entering the aircraft till the last minute. Almost everyone was puffing and panting,” said Gagan. “Even Toronto airport was renovated sometime back but we never faced any inconvenience,” Naunidhi said. “During our visit we took a train to Amritsar. It was a so much more comfortable and smoother.”

Sanjay kumar two-day ordeal

Sanjay Kumar is a 38-year-old technician based in Hagen, Germany. On a visit to Delhi, he missed his flight to Paris on February 27 because the airline counter was shut by the time he cleared the queues. From Paris, he would have taken a connecting flight to Dusseldorf.

February 27, 2007

10.45 pm Kumar reaches airport. “I was quite confident about boarding my Paris flight at 1.20 am,” Kumar said.

12.30 am Kumar manages to enter airport.

1.15 am Kumar reaches check-in counter. But it’s too late. He misses flight.

Feb 29 Kumar finally got a flight on February 29 for Paris. This time, he reached IGIA at 9 pm sharp and was able to make it.

Komal Kaushik three-hour ordeal

On February 28, the Hindustan Times team found Komal Kaushik, an NRI, coming out of Gate 1 of IGIA’s departure terminal.

February 28, 2007

9 pm Kaushik enters airport.

11.55 pm The time his flight was to depart. “By the time I reached the airline counter, it was closed,” Kaushik said. On a visit to India, Kaushik was accompanied by his wife and two young children. Kaushik said there wasn’t enough space inside to even stand properly. He has no plans yet on when to book flights again.

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