NEW DELHI: While Senator Rehman Malik and MNA Ramesh Kumar had to face the wrath of the public after they caused a flight to be delayed, it seems the VIP culture has rubbed off on MPs from across the border when an Air India flight was held up for 45 minutes late last week after a senior Indian Congress leader held up the plane while she allegedly finished her shopping, Hindustan Times reported.
Last Friday, former Union Minister, and Congress Rajya Sabha MP Renuka Chowdhury was travelling to Hyderabad on Air India’s Chicago-Delhi-Hyderabad flight AI-126 which was scheduled to take off at 1900 hours (7pm).
Chowdhury had turned up for boarding after the scheduled departure time but not before the pilot had missed his turn in the departure sequence.
Since her baggage had already been checked on the flight, it was not possible to retrieve it at the last minute, sources said, adding that “Air India did not have an option but to wait for her.”
Chowdhury finally turned up at 7:04pm, said the sources. But since the pilot had missed his window, they had to wait for some 45 minutes before they flight could take off again.
The MP, however, denied that she was shopping, “they have to establish where I went and shopped”.
“What nonsense they are talking?” she said, explaining that she had requested for a cart to take her to the departure gate, which took time in arriving.
The delay to the flight caused by Chowdhury created a lot of resentment among the passengers who took up the issue with Air India authorities.
The airline has instituted an inquiry into the incident, while the Civil Aviation Ministry has also instructed Air India to implement an electronic baggage identification system.
Last year, irate passengers protested against VIP culture aboard PK-370 and forced Senator Rehman Malik and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz MPA Ramesh Kumar off the aircraft for allegedly delaying the flight.