Let flyers de-board if flight delayed, airlines and airports told | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Let flyers de-board if flight delayed, airlines and airports told

By, New Delhi
Apr 02, 2024 05:09 AM IST

A flight is typically delayed for one of three major reasons: due to an incident, bad weather or a technical fault

The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) has ordered airlines and airport operators to allow passengers on delayed flights to return to the terminal, a directive that will bring major respite to flyers particularly in the winter when dense fog often leaves fully boarded jets stranded in departure queues.

Airports will now need to make arrangements so that passengers who return to the terminal can be frisked again before they are allowed to board the plane again (HT)
Airports will now need to make arrangements so that passengers who return to the terminal can be frisked again before they are allowed to board the plane again (HT)

Airports will now need to make arrangements so that passengers who return to the terminal can be frisked again before they are allowed to board the plane again, addressing a critical security gap that made airlines reluctant to allow passengers to deboard.

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“We issued the orders to both the airlines and airport operators to ensure that the passengers don’t have to sit in the aircraft for long when a flight is delayed. The order was issued on Saturday,” said Zulfiquar Hasan, director general of BCAS, on Monday.

Also read: Vistara responds after passengers slam flight delays and cancellations

BCAS oversees the security protocols in place at airports. Hasan added that “airport operators have been asked to make arrangements in the departure area for frisking of the de- boarded passengers” and the rule will apply to both domestic and international flights.

“If the airline does not de-board the passengers on their own, the security personnel at the airport will monitor and will ask them to do so after analysing the situation,” he added. Hasan was addressing a conference on BCAS’s 38th raising day.

The directive, however, does not include any thresholds for deboarding to be mandatory – the agency did not specify a maximum amount that passengers can be made to wait in the plane before they must be taken back to the airport.

It is also unclear how it will also address another issue that leads to passengers being stranded in aircraft: typically, airlines refrain from unloading passengers because it is only when doors are closed that flights are placed on the departure queue. Deboarding passengers will lead to a flight losing its spot in the queue, which becomes particularly tricky when many flights have been held up in the event of, say, fog.

Two incidents over the past winter captured the troubles that the delays create for passengers. In one, an IndiGo passenger on a Delhi-Goa flight lost his cool and assaulted a pilot as the plane full of flyers waited hours for the go-ahead to depart. During the altercation, the passenger was heard urging airline staff to allow them to deboard.

In the second instance, also involving passenger of IndiGo, people were seen in videos having their meals on the tarmac next to their plane at the Mumbai airport, where they were diverted while on way to Delhi from Goa due to the conditions in the national capital.

Both incidents occurred during a particularly bad spell of fog, which lead to delays and cancellations of over 600 flights within a 48-hour period.

A flight is typically delayed for one of three major reasons: due to an incident, bad weather or a technical fault.

Hasan said that in case of an aircraft change after travellers have already boarded, passengers’ luggage will be shifted directly from the existing aircraft to the new aircraft and passengers will be allowed to come back to the boarding area of the departure terminal directly.

According to the erstwhile practice, passengers were not allowed to return to the boarding area and were instead taken to the exits at the arrivals, from where they picked up their baggage and would then have to go through the check-in procedure afresh – including bag drop and security – at the departure side.

“To keep pace with development in this ever-changing sector, upgrading rules and regulations is a must,” Hasan said.

“The increase in passenger touchpoint capacities mitigated the misery to some extent however, in some places passengers are almost kept captive within aircraft for unreasonable hours. To avoid a repeat of this, BCAS has issued new guidance to be followed in such situations,” he added.

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Speaking on the rollout of full body scanners, Hasan said the necessary regulations regarding full body scanners have been issued. “All airports with over 5 million annual passenger notes and a few sensitive airports will see induction of this technology in a phased manner in the coming months,” he added.

Officials close to the development said that the body scanners are likely to officially be functional from this month and that Bengaluru airport will be the first to use them.

Aviation experts welcomed the move.

“It surely is very frustrating and suffocating for passengers to be stuck in an aircraft due to technical glitches and then repeat the whole check-in process. We are waiting for clearer guidelines as to time to be kept in consideration to be specified as delay or change of aircraft... More inputs should be taken from TAAI as an association to make travel seamless and pleasant experience with better technology and coordination,” said Jyoti Mayal, president of Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI).

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    I am a principal correspondent with the national political bureau of the Hindustan Times. I track the aviation and railways ministry. I also write on travel trends. I cover the beats at the national level for the newspaper. Before being in Delhi, I have worked as a journalist in Mumbai as well. My hobbies include trekking and travelling.

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