Our prominent leaders suffer indignities not only at airports abroad but also within the country. It is barely a year since former President A P J Abdul Kalam suffered the ignominy of a body search at the JFK airport in New York on September 29, 2011. While not quite a body search, Kalam was again at the receiving end at Cochin International Airport Ltd (CIAL) while boarding the Kochi-New Delhi flight AI 047 around 7.30 pm last Saturday. An airport security man refused to carry Kalam’s luggage to the plane saying it was for the passengers to do it.
A senior officer at CIAL told Express that Kalam and his staff members were already inside the aircraft when the incident took place. The security personnel standing at the entrance of the aircraft (assigned for checking the boarding pass, wearing khaki dress) felt offended when the airport official asked him to keep Kalam’s luggage inside. They were kept waiting for about 20 minutes before the luggage could be taken aboard the plane.
“The former President had three exempted cabin baggage with him and an airport official carried the same up to the aircraft. At the entrance of the plane, the official asked the security man to keep Kalam sir’s luggage inside. He refused saying it was for the passengers to carry their luggage. This triggered a shouting match between the airport official and the airlines’ staff,” he said.
Finally, Air India’s duty manager had to personally carry all the three bags into the aircraft. The airport authorities are of the view that as Kalam has not lodged any complaint, no action need be taken.