Let passengers stuck in delayed flights return to departure area: BCAS to airlines | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Let passengers stuck in delayed flights return to departure area: BCAS to airlines

Apr 01, 2024 05:15 PM IST

Previously, passengers were taken to the exits at the arrivals, from where they had to pick up their baggage go through the check-in procedure afresh

NEW DELHI: Airport operators and airlines have been told to deboard passengers from the plane to the boarding area of the departure terminal in case there is a long delay in operating the flight. the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) director general Zulfiquar Hasan said on Monday.

A boy looks at Air India airline passenger aircraft parked at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai, India, February 1 (REUTERS FILE0)
A boy looks at Air India airline passenger aircraft parked at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai, India, February 1 (REUTERS FILE0)

“We issued the orders [on Saturday] to both the airlines and airport operators to ensure that the passengers do not have to sit in aircraft for long when a flight is delayed,” said Hasan. BCAS oversees the security protocols in place at airports.

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Previously, 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. This led to reluctance on part of airlines and airport operators to allow passengers to deboard, leading to instances where passengers ended up spending hours in the aircraft.

The new rule implies that airports will have to only make arrangements for frisking passengers before they are allowed to board the plane again.

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.

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 a 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 their way to Delhi from Goa due to the conditions in the national capital.

Both incidents occurred during a particularly bad spell of fog, which led 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 a change in aircraft after travellers have 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.

“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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  • 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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