Updated May 31st, 2024 at 10:25 IST

'20-Hour Delay, 2 Hrs Inside Aircraft with No AC': Air India Passengers Recount Traumatic Experience

The flight to San Francisco, which was supposed to take off on Thursday afternoon, will depart at 11 am on Friday, after a delay of over 20 hours.

Reported by: Digital Desk
Distressed Air India passengers can be seen sitting, eating and lying on the floor of Delhi Airport as they wait to board their flight | Image:X
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New Delhi: An Air India New Delhi to San Francisco flight became a nightmare for passengers after being delayed for over 20 hours, with some fainting due to lack of air-conditioning inside the aircraft. The harrowing experience began on Thursday when flight AI 183, originally scheduled to depart for the afternoon, was postponed and eventually set to depart on Friday around 3 pm.

A journalist Shweta Punj, also a passenger on the flight, took to social media platform X to share her distressing experience. Sharing a photo of passengers sitting on the airport's floor, Punj wrote that the flight was delayed by over eight hours and passengers were made to board and sit inside the aircraft without air-conditioning. Calling it ‘inhuman’, Punj said how the passengers were later deplaned after some people fainted inside the aircraft.

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This incident came to light as Delhi continues to be in the grip of a severe heatwave, with temperatures soaring to a record 52.9 degrees Celsius the day before.

Screengrab of the AI-183 flight's status on Air India's website
Screengrab of the AI-183 flight's current status shown in the Air India website

"If there is a privatisation story that has failed it is Air India. DGCA [aviation regulator] AI 183 flight has been delayed for over eight hours, passengers were made to board the plane without air-conditioning, and then deplaned after some people fainted in the flight. This is inhuman," Punj said in her post on X, tagging Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia.

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Responding to her tweet, Air India said, "Dear Ms. Punj, we truly regret to note the disruptions. Please be rest assured that our team is actively working to address the delay and appreciate your ongoing support and understanding. We are also alerting our team to provide necessary assistance to the passengers."

Meanwhile, another affected traveler, Abhishek Sharma, also took to X and urged the airline to take swift action, pointing out that many, including his parents, were stranded at the boarding area after being deplaned. Sharma also shared several pictures of worried passengers sitting and lying down on the floor.

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Tagging Air India, Sharma wrote, “Air India please let mine and the numerous other parents stranded at the boarding area go home! AI 183 is over 8 hrs late. People were made to board the plane and sit without ac. Then deplaned and not allowed to enter the terminal because immigration was done.”

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The Air India X bot handle replied to Sharma with the same message that it responded to Punj.

Visuals posted by passengers showed exhausted travelers, including children, sitting on the floor, with some eating and some having removed their shoes to cope with the heat.

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The incident has reignited criticism of Air India's service standards, with passengers demanding better handling of such chaotic situations. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had earlier issued guidelines to manage delays, advising airlines to cancel flights likely to be delayed beyond three hours to prevent such ordeals.

Despite these guidelines, the passengers of flight AI 183 endured an excruciating experience, highlighting ongoing issues in Air India's operational management during peak travel seasons and extreme weather conditions.

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Published May 31st, 2024 at 09:34 IST