• Mumbai-bound SpiceJet SG 154 forgets over 40 flyers

    The series of misadventures involving SpiceJet flight SG 154 from Kochi to Mumbai began after it was delayed by 75 minutes.

    “The airline attributed the delay to air traffic congestion at Mumbai.We were to land in Mumbai at 8.55pm; instead the departure was moved to 8.10pm,” said Karthik Ramani, who travelled on that flight.

    When the passengers were being ferried from the terminal building to the aircraft by coaches, around 7.50pm, there was a sudden, heavy , downpour. “I was in the last bus that was carrying about 40-50 passengers to the aircraft. It stopped at a spot on the apron and remained there for close to 30 minutes,” said Ramani.

    The passengers could see two SpiceJet aircraft parked ahead of them, a Boeing 737 and a smaller Q400 aircraft that was bound for Chennai.As the exasperated passengers waited for their bus to move, their aircraft started moving instead.

    “We saw the bigger aircraft moving and were worried that this was our flight, since ours was the Mumbai flight and so it would be operated by the bigger aircraft. But since it’s not possible that they would leave passengers behind, we weren’t sure,” ” he said.

    The bus went up to the smaller aircraft and the driver opened the doors. The flyers disembarked and showed their boarding passes to the ground crew at the ladder point but were told that that particular aircraft was going to Chennai, Ramani recalled.

    By this time, the Boeing 737 bound for Mumbai had begun taxiing and the bewildered and angry passengers started shouting.

    The panic-stricken SpiceJet ground staff started making calls even as the Boeing 737 continued to taxi to wards the runway .

    “Finally , it came to a halt. It stayed there for about 20 minutes before it taxied back,” said Ramani. The passengers then boarded.

    “The commander was very angry about the goof-up, he was shouting at the crew. He said he wouldn’t operate the flight, and the crew had to pacify him,” he added.

    “It’s strange that they didn’t realise that one-fourth of the aircraft was empty , though the flight was fully booked,” he said. The aircraft finally departed at 10pm. SpiceJet did not respond to the questions sent by TOI.

    P Mohanan, a former ICAO security auditor, said: “In 1985, Air India’s Kanishka bombing took place only because the terrorists had checked-in their bags, but they didn’t board. Since then passenger-baggage reconciliation has been made mandatory . Even if one passenger has not boarded and hisher bag has been checked in, it has to be removed before the plane can depart. This is a major security breach and an inquiry should be conducted.” Sam Mills Jersey

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