CHENNAI: There are a great many reasons why planes on the cusp of taking off, abort and return to the parking bay. Trying to find an extra passenger, whose name was manifest, but couldn’t be located by the cabin crew - isn’t one of the regular reasons.
That’s precisely the reason that surprised passengers on a Jet Airways plane from Chennai to Hyderabad were given, when their plane which was set to take off at 7.05 am, did a quick turnaround.
“The crew were getting done with their head count and checks and the pilot had reached the taxiway. The engines were revved like they would be before take-off, but suddenly there was some activity up front and the plane began to move off the track,” said R Seshan, one of the passengers on 9W 2409.
Rolling back to the bay, the pilot announced that the number of passengers on the commercial manifest and the number of passengers on board did not match - raising a security concern. “They had apparently given out 159 boarding passes and the ground crew at the gate had signed off on the passenger manifest, despite the flight only having a capacity of 158,” said an airport source. He added that the ‘excess’ passenger was stopped and persuaded to take their next flight which was scheduled to leave 30 minutes later, but his name remained on the manifest that was attested and handed over to the crew.
This realisation may have dawned on them, only after the plane stopped, ladders were quickly erected and ground staff and security officials began a round of parleys. “The staff were talking outside for a while and comparing sheets of notes, possibly passenger manifests. “We initially thought that they were going to ask us to undergo a round of security check while being seated on the plane, but that never happened,” added a passenger, who sweated it out on the tarmac for 35 minutes before the mystery was solved.
After the discussions were concluded, the crew quickly boarded and hurriedly took off, without offering an explanation to the passengers. “The air hostesses said they didn’t know what happened and stared blankly,” he related, as the plane reached Hyderabad almost an hour late at 8.50 am. Both the CISF security officials and Jet Airways declined to offer an explanation to this incident. In case you’re wondering what happened to the mysterious extra passenger, police sources told Express that he made it to the next flight, without causing any delay or earning the wrath of a perplexed pilot.