(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) As heavy rain pounds India's financial capital, travel plans of several Dubai expats have been severely disrupted, said, travellers.
Since most of the UAE schools have closed for the summer holidays, several families and individuals, who had booked their flights to Mumbai months earlier, had to spent hours stranded inside flights or at other airports. A Dubai expat, who travels to Mumbai every year during summer, said he has his tickets booked for July 11. However, he said he would reconsider his travel plans if the situation does not improve.
According to flightradar24.com, Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai was facing an average delay of 80 minutes on departures and 26 minutes on arrivals. The airport showed a delay index of five on the website, which signifies problems with big delays and several flight cancellations.
The Mumbai-bound Emirates flight EK500 on July 1 was returned to Dubai after departure. An Emirates spokesperson told Khaleej Times: "On July 1, Emirates flight EK500 from Dubai to Mumbai returned to Dubai after departure, due to the A380-compatible runway being disabled at Mumbai International Airport. Affected passengers were accommodated on a replacement Boeing 777 aircraft, or have been rebooked on a later flight. Emirates apologises for any inconvenience caused."
Khaleej Times reached out to some of the stranded travellers who had travelled from Dubai and all of them said they faced long delays. Vikash Singh, a former Dubai resident who cancelled his Dubai visa and was on his way back to Mumbai via AI984, said: "My flight departed from Dubai at 11.40pm. The flight was diverted to Bengaluru and it was a total mess at the airport. We arrived at 4.30am, and there weren't many airport staff to assist us. We had to wait for our luggage for at least four hours."
He added: "The ground staff provided us with water and juices. However, there were so many flights that had been diverted to Bengaluru and passengers from everywhere were waiting to get to Mumbai." Fortunately, Vikash said he was travelling alone and had only carry-on luggage. However, he said he witnessed several mothers struggling with little kids.
He also tweeted: "We were stranded for five hours in Bengaluru. There were small kids, people with medical emergencies. It was horrific." All passengers on the flight, along with Vikash, reached Mumbai at 4pm IST.
'Tickets were booked in advance'
Dubai-based HR recruitment professional Rashid Malik said he had booked his tickets for July 11 in the first week of June. However, if the situation does not improve, he plans to cancel his travel plans. Malik also suffered 2005 Mumbai floods where he was stranded in the staircase of another building.
He said: "Mumbai rains are very unpredictable. I will not be able to decide right now. If there is continued waterlogging, I will have to rebook my tickets."
Reactions on Twitter
Several residents took to Twitter to share their frustrations.
@mehulshah2906 tweeted, "We are almost More than 100 passengers travelling from Mumbai to Dubai via Air India flight AI911. The flight was scheduled at 11.30 on Monday. However, due to rains, we were just left in the aircraft until 6.30 am and then no Air India staff is providing any proper information.
Kuntal Rajan Khona (@kuntzkhona) tweeted: "Kudos to Pilot Captain Akshay to save all our lives. We were flying from Dubai to Mumbai by Air India Express flight IX248 / 01 Jul, Due to heavy rains it was impossible to land and smartly he took off back and safely landed at Ahmedabad Airport waiting for further clearance."
Airlines offer a full waiver on cancellation
A SpiceJet airline from Mumbai to Dubai was delayed for over 12 hours. However, in view of the heavy rains, SpiceJet is offering a full waiver on cancellation and date change charges for travel to and from Mumbai for July 2 and 3. "Fare difference, if any will be applicable for change in travel date," SpiceJet tweeted. India's national airline Air India and private carrier Indigo Airlines have also made similar waivers on cancellations.
Air India said, "Due to inclement weather and runway closure at Mumbai-resulting in inconvenience to passengers Air India has waived off all charges for rescheduling/no-show/cancellation of bookings on flights to and from Mumbai with scheduled departure from 11.45pm of July 1 till midnight July 2."
Originally from India, Dhanusha Gokulan has been working as a journalist for 10 years. She has a keen interest in writing about issues that plague the common person, and will never turn down a human interest story. She completed her Bachelor in Arts in Journalism, Economics, and English Literature from Mangalore University in 2008. In her spare time, she dabbles with some singing/songwriting, loves travelling, and Audible is her favourite mobile application. Tweet at her @wordjunkie88