Friday, January 05, 2018

Diverted plane leaves fliers stranded in Spain

Mumbai: Eleven Indians, including two Mumbaikars, travelling from Seattle to the city via Paris were left stranded at the Barcelona airport in Spain for over a day with no proper accommodation or food arrangements. According to the passengers - travelling on Air France flight F 3653, operated by its codeshare partner Delta Airlines - they were confined to the airport premises as they lacked valid Schengen visas.
The group was supposed to reach Mumbai at 1:30 am on Thursday after taking a connecting flight from Paris. However, the flight from Seattle was diverted to Barcelona because of "extreme weather conditions" in France.
"Airport authorities said we couldn't be accommodated in hotels outside as we didn't have visas. They also told us that we will have to spend over a day there," said Sachin Kamani, a theatre professional based in Mumbai.
Kamani said the group had five senior citizens including two who required wheelchairs. "We had to spend the night sleeping on the floor or catch short naps sitting in the chairs. Our passports were taken by the local airport police and we were not even allowed to leave the non-schengen area," said Kamani.
While the passengers were given some food coupons to cover for meals, they couldn't buy additional food or other items from the airport as cash transactions were strictly in Euros.
"We couldn't convert our money, in US dollars, as the airport police had confiscated our passports," said Harsh Jain, a 41-year-old real estate consultant from Delhi.
A few passengers, including Jain, were flown to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris around 11am on Thursday, and booked on a 9 pm flight to Delhi. "Now in Paris, at least we can spend our own money and buy food of our choice. With few hours left for the flight back to Delhi, we decided to hang around the airport instead of trying to book a hotel room," Jain told Mirror in the evening.
05/01/9 Saitsh Nandgaonkar/Mumbai Mirror