Over 100 passengers travelling by Air India’s Ahmedabad-Mumbai-Newark flights last week had a harrowing time. While some got their checked-in luggage only a week later, other passengers found their articles missing from their delayed luggage.
When Ankur Patel reached Newark in New Jersey on February 1 on AI 191 flight, he could not locate two of his bags. Soon, he realised he wasn’t the only one. “There were more than 100 passengers on my flight who filled claims for lost baggage,” said Patel.
Patel, a 26-year-old consultant developer at Goldman Sachs in New York, along with his friend, who also lost his baggage, headed to the check-in counter and baggage services at Newark Liberty International, and filed the missing bags claims, but did not receive the luggage even a week later.
“Air India never responded to our phone calls. We would randomly get phone calls, telling us that our bags will come. My aunt on the same flight the following day also got her luggage days later and found the expensive clothes she had purchased for her daughter missing from it. When we asked them the reason behind the delay, they gave us an answer that the ‘winds were strong, so did not put the bags’. I got my bags seven days later at 9.30 pm,” said Patel.
After his harrowing experience, he has set up a website, www.airindialostmybags.com to compile a list of passengers who suffered a similar fate.
“I set up the website so that other Air India passengers do not have to suffer like this. We can get together and file a joint action against Air India for their negligence in not delivering our bags on time and not responding to our phone calls at the check-in counter or baggage services at Newark Airport, even after filing the missing bags claims form seven days ago,” he added. The website got three submissions about passengers who faced the same during the week.
Patel and his friends are planning on filling a joint complaint against Air India.
“If we get enough people, we will hire a lawyer here (US) to fight for us so that such incidents get exposed and people don’t travel by Air India,” he said.
Air India, however, claimed that aviation regulation meant that the aircraft could not take off with the heavy payload and had to remove some of the luggage. “There were heavy winds and the payload was too high so we had to take some luggage out. These things happen when the flight is fully booked and the wind speed dictates the payload of the flight,” said the spokesperson.
Probed about the lack of information to passengers and the week-long delay in some cases, the airline said that the bags were sent on flights from the following day onward.
“We regularly sent the bags and ensured all passengers got the luggage,” the spokesperson added.