Security Mess at Benazir Bhutto Airport - No care for consumers’ rights
Dozens of passengers miss flights, pay extra charges to PIA for new tickets
Airport Security, PIA shift blame on one another and passengers for mess
Due to insufficient security check arrangements at the entrance of domestic departure of Benazir International Airport, an unusual mess amid influx of passengers of multiple flights caused missing of flights of dozens of passengers who later paid ‘no show charges’ to PIA for alternate flights.
Most of the passengers who were not issued boarding passes despite confirm tickets were scheduled to travel by PK 301 to Karachi. They had no option but to get an alternate flight PK 369 to Karachi. All of them have to wait for almost five extra hours at the airport and they had to pay extra Rs 5069 each for getting new tickets.
“I would blame the system and lack of coordination between airport security and PIA that I missed the flight and paid Rs. 5069 extra for getting an alternate evening flight,” said Anum Khan, a researcher with the Sustainable Development Policy Institute travelling with other team members.
She said they reached at the airport well in time and were in a long queue awaiting clearance from domestic departure security staff. She said only two staff members were checking hundreds of passengers one by one and by the time we reached the check in counter, PIA staff did not board them saying they reported late.
When contacted, the Security Staff told INFN that there are only two luggage scanning machines so they allow only two passengers in queue to enter for check in. The security staff said it is PIA’s duty to announce and get their passengers in on priority whose flight is earlier.
“As is practised at other international airports that the concerned airlines repeatedly announce and take their passengers in on priority basis and request for their early security clearance, here PIA’s negligence and avoidance comes in. Nobody from PIA came to rescue their passengers and did not take them in on priority basis rather they kept waiting silently and on the excuse of late reporting on the check-in counter, accommodated some VIPs and their relatives and some other people on chance,” said Mr. Shafqat, another passenger who was denied boarding.
The Deputy Station Manager of PIA on duty told INFN that PIA has nothing to do with airport security, which is the responsibility of Civil Aviation. If they did not have full strength of security at the departure entrance, it is their issue and PIA cannot take responsibility of any late arrival of passengers due to security check related mismanagement. PIA has to observe its timing for closing of flight. He said the missed out passengers willing to get another flight would have to pay PIA its due fees, no show fee and ticket alteration fee.
“Nobody listens when you are in trouble rather they pass on the buck to another counter or official. It seems PIA is a not service provider. I have to pay extra Rs 5069 for getting an alternate flight after refusal of PIA to board me. Had there been consumers’ voice strong, they would not have done this with us rather they would have to accept their mismanagement at this very important airport,” said Safyan Saadat, another passenger who missed the flight because of mess at the airport.
Another passenger who was heard claiming at the ticketing counter that he was in the queue on check in counter but, the check in counter staff did not entertain him rather they accommodated people waiting on chance.
INFN contacted the PIA shift supervisor, who admitted that since morning flight was cancelled so they had to accommodate passengers from that flight too and moreover he repeated that since the missed out passengers reported late so they cannot help.