OVER 100 passengers of a SpiceJet flight, which was headed to Pune from Goa, raised havoc at the Goa airport after they realised that the in-flight air conditioning system was not working. When the airline crew tried to tell the passengers that the cooling systems will start functioning once the plane was airborne, they refused to listen and forced the pilot to ferry the plane back to the parking bay.
Passengers complained that the airline crew kept making promises but refused to make any official announcement. Delayed by the chaos, the flight, scheduled to take off at 2 pm, finally left Goa at 3.20 pm.
Earlier, the aircraft had left its bay and was proceeding towards the runway when the passengers ran out of patience and declared that they would not let the flight take off until the AC systems were working.
The cabin crew informed them that due to some issues at the airbase, they couldn’t recharge the AC system, which would become functional minutes after the flight took off.
“After boarding the flight, several passengers started complaining of suffocation and the air-conditioners not functioning. The cabin crew was contacted by several passengers, who did nothing about the complaints. The pilot then proceeded from the bay to the runway… the flight was about to take off when all the agitated passengers stood up and started protesting. The aircraft was then forced to turn back towards the bay,” said Archana Nikam, a passenger.
According to the passengers, the flight crew behaved “rudely” and told passengers that those who weren’t ready to fly in the prevailing condition should alight on their own, after which the plane, with the rest of the passengers, would head towards Pune.
“Several passengers got down and went to speak to the station manager. But there was no change… after about an hour, some of them returned. The flight then took off at 3.20 pm. It was really hot inside and people were dripping with sweat. The elderly passengers and children suffered the most. Thankfully, 10 to 15 minutes after the take-off, the cooling started to work,” said Nikam.
When approached for a comment, a SpiceJet spokesperson confirmed the incident, and blamed it on the “congestion” of Air Traffic Control and unavailability of an external cooling unit at the Goa airport.
“Due to a technical problem, the plane’s air conditioning system wasn’t functioning properly while the aircraft was on the ground. Due to the absence of an external cooling unit at Goa airport, the aircraft could not be provided air conditioning from external sources. Passengers were inconvenienced for around 25 minutes, till the plane was on the ground. The aircraft’s air conditioning system was effective as soon as the flight departed,” the SpiceJet spokesperson told Pune Newsline.