Chaos as Fog Holds up Flights to Delhi - The New Indian Express

Chaos as Fog Holds up Flights to Delhi

Published: 17th December 2013 07:25 AM

Last Updated: 17th December 2013 07:49 AM

If you had found a seat while waiting to board your flight from Chennai airport on Monday, you should consider yourself fortunate. With over 12 outbound and eight inbound flights to Delhi being delayed because of the thick fog over the capital, seats in the waiting areas were filled for most of the morning.

Passengers who were set to fly to Delhi and beyond on Indigo, SpiceJet, Air India and Jet Airways flights from as early as 5 am, were waiting in the airport till their flights were eventually cleared for take-off. An air traffic controller who was on duty admitted that it was a “hectic” morning. “The updates started coming in too late to warn airlines to advise their passengers to come late. Most of the airlines had to wait till the last minute to assess the runway visibility at Delhi before scheduling their take-off to any of the cities, including Chennai,” he said. The flights were delayed from about 70 minutes to just under three hours.

Waiting isn’t usually a pleasurable task. And, waiting without a place to sit can be particularly trying, as several passengers found out. “It was like a free-for-all. Usually passengers sit at the lounge closest to where their boarding gate is assigned, but with the small amount of seats being filled by 7 am, we had to walk around the airport, searching for an empty seat,” said Sherin, who was flying to Delhi on the Jet Airways flight.

Due to the stagnation of over 700 passengers inside the airport, the lines of people trying to enter the domestic terminal also piled up. “We were booked to fly on the Port Blair flight and though it was running late, we got worried when we stood at the entrance for over 20 minutes. The checking and entry line was being handled by just one officer,” said Vimala J, a research scholar who was departing early on Monday.

Flight operations stabilised by noon, though the last delayed flight entered the city only at around 1 pm. An Airports Authority of India (AAI) official at the manager’s office said that they had to deploy additional traffic warders and the CISF staff to handle the rush at entry gates 1 and 3.

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