A private sector airline, Jet Airways denied boarding to two shooters, Anjali Bhagwat (World No. 1, 2002) and Heena Sidhu (World No. 1, 2013), on their way back home. Worse, they were treated like terrorists rather than respectable icons of this country, made to wait for 9 hours at the airport!! The girls were sleepless, tired and hungry just sitting for an answer from Jet. This is the story as told by Heena Sidhu.
According to Sidhu, “Me and Anjali were coming back from Korea to Mumbai with a transit in Bangkok. We took Korean Air from Busan to Bangkok and the next flight was Jet Airways from Bangkok to Mumbai.”
As it was a code-shared flight, she went on,”We got the boarding pass for the Jet flight in Busan itself after checking-in our weapons. After landing in Bangkok at 1230 am we were simply informed that we can’t board the Jet flight as we were carrying weapons (which were already accepted in Korea after verifying the documents).”
The Bangkok Airport does not operate at night and even the Jet counter was shut. If we wanted to talk to someone from Jet, she said, we had to go to baggage claim in Arrivals or the check-in counters of Jet. Luckily Bangkok has visa on arrival facility. So we had to apply for a visa at 2am. We got out of the airport, only to realize that the counters will open only by 6 am. We had to spend 4 hours sitting outside the airport, hungry, thirsty and sleepless waiting to talk to somebody from Jet, she added.
Anyway, at 6:30 we went to the Jet Counter to enquire. Jet security manager, Shailesh Gala (Indian), an ego-drenched guy, told us we should have informed them earlier. But we said that when our travel agent booked the ticket we had already marked three weapon bags being carried by us. He was quiet. Then he said show me the papers.
We showed him all the documents, she said, adding, we were carrying DGCA permit, Customs Clearance, Letter from the Federation, Our Sports IDs, Our valid licenses (by the way none of the documents are required for check in for international flights as all these documents are relevant only in India). He looked at our DGCA permit which was already not required to take this flight, and said the wording of this permit is not right so you can’t go. I said can you give this in writing mentioning the relevant rule for the same? He said not at all and walked off. No attempt was made to give us an alternative flight or help us at all, which is basic airline courtesy offered throughout the world. We later booked an Air India flight and came back with nobody asking for these documents, she said.