“In the present situation, it will be hard to get transportation to reach Manipur from Guwahati,” the girl said. She sounded exasperated and helpless as her attempt to return to her home state failed miserably. Her flight ticket to Imphal was repeatedly cancelled and she remained stranded in Bengaluru.
Many others are going through the same harrowing experience amid the rising Coronavirus spread and the nationwide lockdown. Many stranded citizens, who booked return tickets to Imphal after the flight services resumed in the state, have raised complaints regarding repeated cancellation of flights by the authorities.
A few of them who experienced last minute cancellations expressed dissatisfaction that they are charged differently for reserving a seat in the flight even after booking the tickets.
One Essille Heisnam staying in Bengaluru told the Imphal Free Press, during a telephonic conversation that she booked a ticket for Bengaluru to Imphal via Kolkata for May 27 but it was cancelled without providing proper reasons. She said that the customer care of Indigo was approached but they failed to give any response. Later, she booked a ticket for Bengaluru to Imphal via Guwahati for June 3 but the flight for Guwahati to Imphal was cancelled again. Owing to it, she has extended her stay in Bengaluru till now.
Heisnam, narrating her ordeal, said there was no information from Indigo regarding cancellation of the flight from Guwahati to Imphal. She came to know about the cancellation only after checking the website of Indigo.
“If the situation of the country is normal, there can be other means of reaching Manipur even if the flight is canceled. But in the present situation, it will be hard to get transportation to reach Manipur from Guwahati,” the girl said.
She had booked a flight ticket for June 8 again but now living in constant doubt that she may have to face the same situation again. If the flight is to be canceled, passengers should be given prior information citing the reasons the flight was cancelled, she said.
Since her flight had been cancelled, she tried to redeem her credit shell (a credit shell is an amount provided from Indigo for all impacted bookings with travel from March 25 to May31, which can be used for future bookings by the same passengers) using the website. However, the website to book the ticket using the credit shell wasdown for reasons unknown, she said.
Although booking the ticket using the credit shell was not possible, one can book the flight tickets in a normal way. Till now, she has around Rs 30,000 in the credit shell but she cannot redeem a single rupee at the moment. Using social media, the girl expressed her disappointment mentioning ‘Cleartrip’ and ‘Indigo’ on May 28. To her surprise, shortly after her social media post, she was able to book her tickets using the credit shell.
Similar harrowing experiences are faced by many others stranded in other parts of the country and attempting to return home by flight.
One 26-year-old Lungkunpou Riamei told the Imphal Free Press that on May 24, he along with three of his friends booked a flight ticket for May 30 for Delhi to Imphal via Kolkata. But on May 28, he received a message from Indigo that the flight will be going directly to Imphal via Guwahati instead of landing in Kolkata. However, when they headed out for the airport, they were again informed that the flight for Guwahati to Imphal has been cancelled.
“I was hoping to return home to spend time with my family for at least a few days. But after learning that the flight from Guwahati to Imphal has been cancelled, I have no other choice but to stay back in Delhi,” Lungkunpou said.
Meanwhile, a returnee, 27-year-old Thiyam Sweta from Uripok Haobam Dewan leikai, who came back to Manipur by Indigo flight also told the IFP that she booked a ticket for Delhi to Imphal via Guwahati in Indigo. However, even after booking the tickets, she was asked by the authorities to book a seat in the flight again for Rs 350 with the claim the seats will be full.
Sweta informed that she booked the ticket for May 26 but received information about cancellation of the flight from Guwahati to Imphal at the last hour on May 25. She also said she tried calling the customer care but they did not receive her call the whole day. After learning that the flight was cancelled, she booked a ticket in Air Asia for Guwahati to Imphal for the fare of about Rs. 6,000. What is more surprising is that the flight for Delhi to Guwahati was also delayed for 20 minutes after she booked the ticket for Guwahati to Imphal for the same day.
Later, when she boarded a taxi for the airport, she received a call from Indigo, informing her that the same indigo flight which she booked for Delhi to Guwahati will be landing in Imphal too, though she was informed earlier on May 25 that it was cancelled. After reaching the airport, Sweta had to cancel the ticket for Guwahati to Imphal which she earlier booked after learning that the Indigo flight would reach Imphal.
She also said that she faced problems while negotiating to get a boarding pass in the airport. Due to the lockdown, the flight service may also face downfall. However, constant mental harassment of passengers for their own benefits is not acceptable, Sweta added.