Air India Delhi-San Francisco flight passengers face harrowing time with inordinate delay

Passengers of a San Francisco-bound Air India flight faced a harrowing time on Thursday at the Delhi airport as some of them fainted due to non-functioning of the aircraft's air-conditioning system and also had to wait in the aerobridge before the flight was finally rescheduled for Friday.
Air India
Air India

New Delhi | Passengers of a San Francisco-bound Air India flight faced a harrowing time on Thursday at the Delhi airport as some of them fainted due to non-functioning of the aircraft's air-conditioning system and also had to wait in the aerobridge before the flight was finally rescheduled for Friday.

There were around 200 passengers onboard the Boeing 777 aircraft that was to operate flight AI 183. The flight was originally scheduled to take off at around 1530 hours on Thursday but was delayed by around six hours before getting rescheduled.

At first, the aircraft was changed due to a technical glitch and the passengers boarded another plane, wherein the air-conditioning system was not working and as a result some of those onboard fainted. The plane had aged people and children, who were feeling uneasy. Later, at around 2200 hours on Thursday, the flight was rescheduled, a woman passenger told PTI.

According to her, the revised departure time was about 2000 hours and passengers had boarded the aircraft at around 1920 hours. With the air conditioning system non-functional, passengers were agitated and after almost an hour, they came out. The passengers had to wait for nearly an hour in the aerobridge before the gates were opened to go back to the airport, she said.

An airline official said the flight is scheduled to take off at around 1500 hours on Friday.

The airline official said the aircraft had developed a technical issue and engineering checks were carried out. Due to the delay, the crew had crossed the Flight Duty Time Limitation (FDTL) and also if the flight had taken off, it would have reached San Francisco when there are night landing restrictions there, the official added.

The passenger quoted earlier said the flight was originally rescheduled for 0800 hours departure on Friday and that has now been revised to 1500 hours. She also claimed that the airline did not offer the option to reschedule or cancel the bookings.

However, the airline official claimed that passengers were offered the options of full refund, complimentary rescheduling and hotel accommodation.

This is at least the second time in one week that Air India passengers on a San Francisco flight have faced a harrowing time due to inordinate delay.

Meanwhile, some passengers of the AI 183 flight took to social media complaining about the delay and one of them said that there was no air-conditioning in the plane.

"If there is a privatisation story that has failed it is @airindia @DGCAIndia AI 183 flight has been delayed for over 8 hours, passengers were made to board the plane without air conditioning, and then deplaned after some people fainted in the flight. This is inhuman! @JM_Scindia," Shweta Punj, a journalist, said in a post on X on Thursday night.

She also shared a picture of passengers sitting on the floor at the Delhi airport.

Meanwhile, an Air India flight from Mumbai to San Francisco, which was originally scheduled to take off at 1600 hours on May 24, was rescheduled and finally departed at around 1730 hours on May 25. The inordinate delay was due to multiple reasons, including a technical glitch.

On May 24, passengers had to wait inside the aircraft for more than five hours before the flight was rescheduled for May 25.

In March, aviation security watchdog BCAS had issued new guidelines that will allow exit of passengers from an aircraft through an airport departure gate in case there is a long delay in operating the flight after boarding.

The directive from the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) had come against the backdrop of rising instances of congestion and flight delays, resulting in passengers getting stuck in aircraft after boarding for long hours.

BCAS Director General Zulfiquar Hasan, on April 1, said the guidelines will help in ensuring "less harassment" for passengers and they would not have to keep sitting inside an aircraft for long hours after boarding.

"Airport operators have to make arrangements for the infrastructure, including for screening, for implementing the guidelines," Hasan had said and added that a decision on deboarding the passengers will be taken by airlines and security agencies concerned.

It could not be immediately ascertained whether Air India opted to follow these guidelines.

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