A Canadian family traveling from Toronto to India says they were abandoned by Air Canada staff when their plane was forced to make an emergency landing in Azerbaijan and stranded for more than 27 hours.
Jagdeep Khairy, a Toronto man, spoke on behalf of his family of four: his father, nephew and two nieces. Flight 21 landed at Baku International Airport.
“They didn’t tell the passengers anything, they didn’t make any announcements, they just told them it would take about 15 minutes to land, sit back and fly back. And they didn’t tell them what country they were landing in. ”Kylie said. “The complete disregard for passengers’ right to legitimate information is grossly negligent.”
Other people on the same flight also shared their frustrations on social media.
“There was no accountability on (Air Canada)’s part. Some people, like me, boarded the next @IndiGo6E flight to Delhi. Some people are trying to figure out how to get from the airport to the hotel. “Others were scattered throughout the airport to find a comfortable place to lie down,” Gurmeet Kaur wrote on X (previously known as Twitter). She added that the Air Canada crew “made no effort to help.”
Sumanpreet Jatana said Air Canada cannot provide visas or hotel accommodations.
“The terrifying experience of landing at an unknown airport with no information, no food, no place to go, no place to sleep. The passengers included children, most of them elderly, and were forced to sit in uncomfortable chairs or on the floor. I was sitting there,” Jatana wrote to X.
“The pilot received hydraulic instructions from one of the engines and decided to divert the aircraft as a precaution,” Air Canada said in a statement to the National Post.
The pilots declared a state of emergency in order to obtain permission to land in Baku.
Air Canada said it was not operating from Baku, but immediately arranged ground and air support, food services and hotel accommodations.
Kylie said that in reality, this support is far from sufficient. Getting off the plane was also difficult. Kylie said passengers had to descend stairs attached to the plane and wheelchairs were provided for those who needed them, like her 76-year-old father, who had both knees replaced and was supported by his family. He said there wasn’t. .
The meal arrived about 12 hours later and consisted of 500ml of water, coffee and a sandwich, which some passengers were unable to eat due to dietary restrictions.
Passengers who wish to use hotel accommodations provided by Air Canada will need temporary visas to exit the airport, which the airline said it worked with local authorities to arrange.
“However, not all passengers went to their hotels as some passengers chose to wait at the airport and others were unable to obtain visas,” Air Canada said.
But Kylie said Air Canada staff offered little support and left her at the airport about three-and-a-half hours after the passenger got off the plane.
Jagdeep said the plane landed at the airport around 4 p.m., the family deplaned by around 6 p.m., and were at the immigration office to get their visas around 12:30 a.m. You have to apply online and wait 3 hours to get your visa. Airport officials told passengers it was Air Canada staff’s responsibility to work with Baku authorities to ensure passengers obtained visas and hotels. But despite initially promising to look after the passengers, Air Canada staff left the airport at 9:30 p.m. without providing any information, Kiley said.
“One of them said… no matter where we go, you will stay, we know this is an emergency and we are not abandoning you. But minutes later, the officials They left and 300 people continued to sit there,” he said. .
His family had to go through security to return to the waiting room, arriving at 2:30 a.m. The family realized that even if he got his visa and arrived at the hotel, he would likely get less than four hours of sleep. I had to return to my rescheduled flight that afternoon.
They decided it wasn’t worth it to leave the airport after such a delay. Kylie estimates that more than 250 other passengers were unable to obtain visas due to a lack of support from Air Canada staff, who initially did not tell them about the online application. Kiley said some seniors faced language barriers and had little or no knowledge of how to complete online applications using their cell phones.
Baku airport staff tried to help, but Khairy said she could not speak any of the Indian language spoken by many of the passengers, who are in their 70s. Kiley said his family helped the elderly as Air Canada staff left the airport.
Khairy said her father, Krishna Chaitanya, did not sleep for more than 27 hours while he was stuck at the airport helping people.
“I think the most worrying factor was that there was no support available, no support at all. An airline of Air Canada’s size and professional integrity would have protocols in place. We expected him to be deaf,” Kiley said. “If the ship sinks, the captain stays with the ship instead of jumping overboard.”
Khairy said the passengers, including children and the elderly, were forced to sleep on the airport floor, and some were in poor health.
“There was no pharmacy, there were young children and the mother needed sanitary napkins. It’s not Air Canada’s fault that there’s no pharmacy at the airport. What’s important is that they get certain supplies to them. So maybe we could have helped these families,” Kylie said.
Passengers received breakfast in Baku at 9:45 a.m., but were not given another meal after that. Kylie said they were packed onto the plane around 4 p.m., but were unable to take off for another three hours.
Khairy said Air Canada was unable to provide enough food for passengers bound for Delhi after they left Baku. All they were given was a cold snack: a piece of cake, some almonds, and crackers. But staff didn’t know whether the cake contained eggs, which Kaylee’s family couldn’t eat.
The passengers finally arrived in Delhi just after midnight on October 23 local time.
“We appreciate the inconvenience caused to our customers and will compensate for the goodwill. However, safety is always our top priority,” Air Canada said.
Kylie said passengers were offered an $800 credit to use on their next Air Canada flight, but the family did not want to travel with Air Canada again due to the emotional and physical turmoil they experienced. That’s what it means. He said he was shocked that airlines were not willing to do more for their customers.
“We caused inconvenience to more than 300 passengers,” Kiley said. “Air Canada may think it can get away with its discriminatory treatment because Indian-Canadians are treated less than Canadians deserve.”
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