Dubai: Air India passengers to Mumbai were stranded in Dubai International Airport for more than 24 hours after the Boeing 787 aircraft faced a technical glitch.
A total of 240 passengers who reached the airport to fly on the airline’s Dreamliner service at 12pm on Thursday were informed that the flight was unfit to travel after an initial two hours’ delay, passengers told Gulf News.
An Air India official said the flight faced a technical glitch and an engineering team had to fly down from India to rectify it.
“We accommodated 35 percent of the passengers on Air India Express flights to Kolkata, Hyderabad, Indore, Goa and Delhi and some passengers cancelled the tickets. A total of 139 people were given accommodation at the airport transit hotel. We profusely apologise for the inconvenience caused to the passengers,” he said, citing airline staff shortage to handle such a crisis.
However, the passengers said they faced a harrowing time and blamed the airline staff for not giving proper answer to their queries and not addressing their concerns.
Some said they were given food and water only 18 hours later and they had to walk for two kilometres from the hotel they were accommodated in on Thursday night to a restaurant where food was arranged.
"I got her a new visa"
“We have spent [a] very frustrating time here,” said Prachi Manghnani, an event planner and senior property advisor based in Dubai.
“There are patients, old parents and people who have cancelled visas. There was nobody to address our concerns,” said Manghnani, who was scheduled to attend an important meeting at 11am on Friday in Mumbai.
She was accompanied by her 67-year-old mother-in-law who was on a visit to Dubai.
Manghani added, “I couldn’t take her out without getting a new visa. They scheduled the flight at 5.30 am. So we stayed back and got up early. But it was delayed again. Finally, I cancelled our tickets and got a new visa for my mother-in-law. I don’t know if they will even give me a full refund.”
“What is appalling is not the delay,” said Anit Iyer Narayan, an Indian tourist who was on a three-day trip to Dubai with her daughter.
“Aircraft can have technical issues. But the complete lack of remorse and complete negligence from the airline staff cannot be tolerated. There was nobody to answer us from the airline,” she added.
She said her daughter has important exams starting on Monday and she was angry and upset as they could not reach home on time.
The remaining passengers had started boarding the flight at 10:45am. However, the take-off was further delayed as "some passengers didn't report to the gate and their luggage had to be offloaded," the airline official said. While onboard, passengers sent WhatsApp messages to Gulf News saying they had collected signatures of all who boarded the flight and would file a mass petition against the airline staff once they reach India on behalf of all those who had been impacted by the flight delay. They said they would also demand compensation from the airline.
The airline official confirmed that the flight was finally airborne by 12:10pm on Friday.