Stranded for four days, threatened with arrest
Over 150 passengers were stranded at Kuwait airport for four days after several flights to Mumbai were cancelled.
The passengers, mostly Indians, were flying in from different destinations and were scheduled to board the connecting Kuwait Airways flights to Mumbai.
The stranded passengers have complained to the Consulate General of Kuwait in Mumbai and Kuwait Airways that they were discriminated against during their wait in Kuwait.
“I was returning from New York on June 11 and was supposed to take a connecting flight to Mumbai on Monday. When we had queued up to board the plane, we were told that our flight to Mumbai has been cancelled.
The next six hours were the worst time of our lives,” said an affected passenger Dr Nimesh Shah.
Another passenger Sangeeta Vengsarkar complained that the ground staff was extremely rude. “Two hours after the flight was cancelled we got restless and some of us started asking questions to the airport authorities. They just kept telling us to ‘shut up and stand quietly,” she said.
The passengers were in for a bigger shock when they discovered that there were around 100 other Indians at the airport who had been stranded for three days. “We were all supposed to take connecting flights to Mumbai.
Some of us were headed to Mumbai from Frankfurt, JFK, and other destinations. However, on day one we were told that the flight was cancelled due to technical snag,” said a passenger who was headed to Mumbai from Frankfurt.
Several passengers have now come together and sent complaints to Kuwait Airways as well as Consulate General of Kuwait in Mumbai.
In their letter they have alleged racism. “Americans who were on our flights were accommodated at Sheraton, a five star, while after six hours of wait at the airport, we were accommodated in a three star.
During our six-hour wait at the airport, we kept asking for water or something to eat, but in vain. Your duty manager was rude to us.
The worst of the lot was an officer posted at gate 23 who said that he was in charge and all Indians going to Mumbai should stay put on one side till further instructions.
The language and behaviour of other officers towards senior citizens was atrocious, to say the least,” states the letter.
The passengers have pointed out that those who had to stay back for four days, were ferried to the airport every day in the morning and made to wait for hours. “Every day for four days we were told that the plane would finally take off.
On June 10, we were taken as far as the runway. However, an hour later we were brought back to the airport and told that the flight was cancelled due to technical snag. When one of us got anxious and questioned the authorities, the airport officer told the man to keep quiet or face arrest,” states the letter.
On June 12, the passengers got to know that the Americans who were with them on flight from New York on June 11, had all left for Mumbai in an early morning flight.
“What do you call this if not racism? Why keep us in lower grade hotels and Americans in five stars? Why pack them off earlier in the first flight available while we were left behind?” questions the angry letter.
It was only late on June 12 that they were all packed into a flight and brought to Mumbai. Ever since then the passengers, galvanised by their shared nightmare, have been networking and have now sent the letter.
When Mumbai Mirror contacted Kuwait Airways’ Mumbai office, the sales manager, in-charge of the office said he had no clue about the issue.
“Our headquarter may be dealing with the complaint. However since Friday and Saturday are holidays in Kuwait, we won’t be able to find out anything,” said the manager. Consulate General of Kuwait’s office also refused to comment on the issue.
Source: Mumbai Mirror