Srinjoy and Madhumita Sengupta
A Calcutta couple returning from a holiday in Kerala were stranded at Bangalore airport for a night after an Air India flight they took from Thiruvananthapuram was delayed.
Srinjoy Sengupta, 32, and his wife Madhumita, 30, missed a SpiceJet flight from Bangalore to Calcutta and had to shell out more than Rs 16,000 extra to book seats on a flight home the next morning.
The couple from Lake Gardens were to take an Air India flight from Thiruvananthapuram to Bangalore at 1.50pm on October 27 and a SpiceJet flight from there to Calcutta at 7.10 the same evening.
“Around 11.30am on our day of return, my wife received a text message from Air India that flight AI 264 had been combined with AI 266 and would leave Thiruvananthapuram at 5pm,” said Srinjoy, an executive at a private firm.
He said Air India officials at the duty manager’s office in Thiruvananthapuram assured them they would be given front row seats and priority status for checked-in baggage so that they could go to SpiceJet’s check-in counter soon after reaching Bangalore. “The person at the airline’s duty manager’s office also said he would speak to the SpiceJet airport manager in Bangalore,” Srinjoy said.
The airline kept its promise in Thiruvananthapuram and the Senguptas got front row seats as well as priority status for their baggage. But the flight was delayed and it finally took off at 5.25pm.
“We were getting anxious and so were other passengers who also had connecting flights to catch. But an elderly person from Air India came on board before departure and assured that we would face no problem,” he said.
The plane landed in Bangalore at 6.20pm and the Senguptas boarded a coach along with several other passengers. “We were taken to a part of the terminal where conveyor belts one to four were located. We were waiting for our luggage when it was announced that the baggage of our flight would arrive on belt no. seven,” Srinjoy said.
There was a glass wall separating the section where conveyor belt seven was located and where the Senguptas were waiting. “After much running about, we were able to collect the luggage and rushed to the SpiceJet check-in counter, only to be told they had stopped issuing boarding passes for the Calcutta flight,” Srinjoy said.
SpiceJet officials in Bangalore allegedly told the couple they had not received any communication from Air India regarding two passengers being delayed.
The Senguptas approached the Air India counter at the airport, but were allegedly turned away. “We requested accommodation since it was the fault of the airline that we had missed our flight but the officials refused,” Srinjoy said. “The Air India officials did not even offer us water. We had to spend the entire night sitting at the airport.”
The couple bought tickets for a SpiceJet flight next morning paying an additional Rs 16,000.
Air India officials, however, brushed off responsibility for the couple’s plight. “If the connecting flight was Air India’s we would have provided them accommodation. Technically, we are not to be blamed as our flight landed before the SpiceJet flight took off,” said an Air India spokesperson in Calcutta. Asked about the faux pas at the conveyor belt, the spokesperson said it was the airport authorities’ responsibility.