Lift Conks off at Chennai Airport's International Terminal, Traps Singapore Flyer
CHENNAI: After shattering glass panes and collapsing granite tiles, on a list of infrastructural deficiencies and malfunctions at the Chennai Airport made headlines in the past year since it opened, this time it was the lifts that made flyers jittery.
In a bizarre incident, a passenger who had arrived early for his flight to Singapore, had to be pulled out through a hatch of an elevator at the international airport terminal, after it suddenly stopped between floors. Airport sources said it took over 45 minutes and a series of frantic calls before Raman (name changed), was pulled out of the lift.
Raman, who works with a multinational firm, had arrived early to board the 11.15 pm Singapore Airlines flight SQ 529 and had decided to unwind at the Port Lounge. “He had stepped into the lift and was heading from the upper level of the new international terminal to the ground level, when the lift suddenly stopped and went dead,” said an Airports Authority of India official. All the flight operations are handled on the upper level, while the ground floor is yet to open for arrivals. All arrivals are still being handled in the old international terminal building; only the lounge operates on the ground floor.
The man panicked and pressed the emergency button but to no avail. After shouting himself hoarse, he pulled out his mobile phone and woke his wife up and told her that he was stuck in a lift in the new airport.
His wife immediately awoke her father, a retired official with All India Radio, who immediately called the airline’s help centre. “Within about 20 minutes, the airline had sent a team to our office and they had located the stuck lift. They found that the emergency generator had malfunctioned and there was no way to pry open the doors,” another source added.
AAI engineers, a few maintenance staff on late night duty and security guards ideated over how to get the passenger out of the lift. “The family was getting restless and even threatened to call fire and rescue services, so our officers had no go but to open the door on the upper level, climb down and break the roof hatch and get him out,” said the official.
The team removed the hatch on the roof of the elevator and pulled the man out. He had to be bodily lifted out of the elevator channel. “We are at a loss to explain how the power outage and this elevator mishap happened on the same night. We are probing the incident,” said an AAI spokesperson.
“He was lucky that he got his wife on the phone, because sometimes there is no signal in that part of the airport,” added a source.
Eventually, Raman caught his flight but only after a formal complaint was reportedly lodged with authorities.