A hostage situation, say flyers on 36-hour delay enroute Bengaluru- The New Indian Express

Express Message Service

BENGALURU: After a tiring journey from Frankfurt to Istanbul in Turkey, 382 passengers arrived at Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) on a Lufthansa flight at 1:40 p.m., more than 36 hours behind the scheduled time.

Alongside a huge sigh of relief at finally landing in India, passengers shared their agony and anger at how they were treated both by a foreign airline and at a foreign airport.

Allegations of racism, utter disrespect for Indians and being treated as a second-class citizen flew massively and quickly online and during interactions with TNIE.

Flight LH 754 took off from Germany on Tuesday, 20 minutes late, at 1:05 p.m. and was scheduled to reach KIA at 1:25 a.m. on Wednesday. A serious medical emergency on board forced the flight to be diverted in mid-air. Vashishta Jayanti, who runs his own landscape design business in Bengaluru, had joined Alitalia in Turkey.

“Five of us flew to Frankfurt, as Lufthansa offers a direct flight to Bengaluru from there. Just 25 minutes after the flight took off, an 85-year-old passenger from Sri Lanka developed a health emergency. He was foaming at the mouth and having trouble breathing. Three doctors, who were also passengers, attended to him. After a four-hour flight, the flight captain, while flying over Baghdad, announced that it would be diverted to Istanbul due to a passenger’s medical emergency.”

We weren’t given shelter for nearly 30 hours, Flyer says

Vashishta added that most of the passengers empathized with the situation and had no problems until they landed at Istanbul Airport.

“The passenger was taken away and we were told that the plane would take off after refueling, which was just being carried out. 45 minutes later we were told that the oxygen canisters on board needed to be refilled as they were being used for a sick passenger. We were on the plane for 4.5 hours.”

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Special arrangement

Nearly 20 percent of the passengers are seniors and some have already flown 15 hours from the US or Canada to board this flight from Frankfurt, he added.

Passengers were later told they would have to disembark and be taken to the lounge. As passengers disembarked from the plane, Turkish officials said they needed a visa to enter their ground, the businessman explained. After all, they were only allowed in the lounge.

Grammy winner Ricky Kej, who was also on the flight, told TNIE: “Three very important meetings of mine have now been canceled and two have been postponed. Also, I have to fly to San Francisco for a concert tomorrow and I don’t have time to rehearse. Since no new boarding pass was issued, most shops didn’t allow us to buy anything as they wanted a valid card,” Kej said.

Vashishta’s brother Agasthya Jayanti said: “We were told to occupy only part of the lounge. We were not provided with any accommodation for almost 30 hours. It felt like prison and we were like hostages there. We were told several times that the flight would take off, but that never happened. When passengers protested and blocked the lounge, airport police were called and we were threatened with arrest,” he said.

Vashishta and his friends ended up catching a flight on Oman Air, paying over 50,000 rupees per ticket and reaching the city on their own.

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