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Chaos checks in after snag

The check-in system of Jet Airways and Air India collapsed for three hours at Calcutta airport on Thursday morning, triggering long queues at counters and confusion over luggage tags.

Airport officials said the breakdown in the computerised system happened at 11am, forcing airline employees to fall back on the cumbersome process of issuing boarding passes and luggage tags manually until normality was restored at 1.45pm.

“The manual system delayed the entire process and triggered passenger confusion because most of them had blocked seats via online check-in. We struggled to make the flights take off on time,” said an official of Jet Airways.

SITA, the global aviation information and technology service provider, is responsible for the common user terminal equipment (CUTE) software that connects all the check-in terminals at Calcutta airport to a single platform. The software enables airlines to use any vacant terminal during rush hour.

SITA sources said a snag at its hub in Mumbai tripped the system for the two airlines across 25 airports.

The glitch got the passengers off guard. Tapas Roy, who was flying Jet Airways on an official trip to Indore via Mumbai, was livid about the manual luggage tagging.

“Normally (in a CUTE check-in), I would be issued a through check-in from Calcutta to Indore via Mumbai. I was told that it was not possible today and I had to collect my luggage at Mumbai airport and go for fresh check-in,” he said.

When Metro contacted him later at night, he was more furious because his luggage had not reached Mumbai and Jet officials told them that it would be sent later.

“Manual tagging, since the online system was down, caused all these problems,” said an airport official.