Over 400 Passengers Stranded for 27 Hours as A-I Cancels Flight

RIYADH – More than 420 passengers were left stranded for nearly 27 hours at the King Khalid International Airport (KKIA) and later in a city hotel after their Air-India flight bound for Bombay was canceled on Wednesday evening. The ordeal of the angry passengers ended 5.30 p.m. yesterday, when an A-I flight carrying these passengers took off from KKIA for Bombay.

“It was indeed a very agonizing experience,” said S.K. Mohammed, a local banker, booked on that flight. He said that “passengers hoping to jet off for business or holiday in India turned up at the local airport at 2 p.m. on Wednesday to check in for their 6.10 p.m. flight, but were told about the cancelation by A-I officials only at 10 p.m.

All passengers, who checked in their luggage and made their way through security, were taken to Yamama Hotel late in the night,” said Mohammed. He cited additional problems due to this delay.

“First, neither I will be able to board the domestic flight to my home destination as scheduled on Thursday nor I will be entitled to get the refund of the domestic ticket, which was purchased on ‘instant ticket sale’ (non-refundable) basis; said Mohammed, who was traveling to India to make  arrangements for the marriage of his sister.

Asked about the help rendered by the A-l officials, another passenger said that they faced a lot of problems mainly because of the lack of information.

Top A-I officials were reluctant to share information, when contacted by Arab News yesterday. Asked about the arrangements made by the carrier to airlift the stranded passengers, R. Ghosh, A-I manager for Central Province, first refused to give any information saying that ‘you ring up A-l official Krishan Bhar or the A-l’s city office.” But, after a few moments, Ghosh said briefly that “a plane had already left Calicut and all stranded passengers would be leaving,’’

 In fact, many passengers were critical of the cancelation of the flight, saying they were left without hope of finding accommodation or inform their family members of the delay or manage to get connecting flights to their destinations a day later.

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