Almost a week before during a meeting we prepared our movement plan for Nawroz i.e. Who to go where during Naw roz? (Afghan New Year). Some of us planned to leave for abroad, some wanted to go home etc. Therefore, all flights for all planned movements and destinations (including connecting flights) were booked and meetings scheduled accordingly.
Some of my friends had tickets for a Kamair flight from Mazar-e-Sharif to Kabul scheduled on 18th March. Due huge presence of security forces on the main road particularly those leading to the city center they had to travel several hours on the roads and go through tens of muddy and narrow street he finally managed to be in the airport 02:30. Exactly 2.5hours before the estimated departure time. Their flight was supposed to leave on 05:00pm. They were kept waiting in the cold hunkr of the airport along with more than 100 other passengers including women, children, aged people and patients until 08:30pm. Nobody knew when will they fly? Will they fly or not? Various rumors were circulating among passengers, some saying the plane which was supposed to take them to Kabul has not even departed from Tehran/Iran yet. Others saying it had been delayed due to …. reasons. While some other was of the view that it had been cancelled. Even the message from the representative of airline was ambiguous saying that they didn’t know whither the plane will arrive or not? Therefore, those passengers who wanted to cancel their current flight will be sent on the next flight which was scheduled on 06:00am next day i.e. March 19th. So, many of the passengers particularly patients, women and children who couldn’t suffer further cold and hunger decided to cancel.
Later it was found through a reliable source that in fact the plane which was supposed to come from Iran and go to Kabul had only limited available seats, which were several times less than number of tickets sold on customers or passengers waiting for it in the hunker. Therefore, Airline authorities’ deliberately played game with customers to compel them to leave.
My friends were among those who re-booked themselves for the next morning flight. So next morning they once again made it to the airport in early morning trying to be among the first ones in order catch the flight. For a flight scheduled to depart at 06:00am they wait until 09:00am in their car outside the airport as they were not allowed to go inside because airline representative was not arrived yet to the airport. Weather was not friendly i.e. very windy and snowing. After several unsuccessful attempts to contact airline representative by phone they finally once again preferred to go back home instead of further fruitless waiting.
Their third attempt was at 11:00 am same day. Impatiently after reaching to the airport they went to all the checks and obtained the boarding passes. This time they seemed very optimistic because the weather had been improved and a couple of planes were parked in the airport. So, they handed ever their luggage to the responsible person and went to the same Hunker (used as waiting hall) where they had spent 5 annoying hours yesterday. Tens of people were already waiting there including some those once who were left from yesterday’s flight. After couple of hours speculation regarding flight started once again. This time with some new and different once, i.e. technical problems in the plane that could be solved soon. It was said that some snow has been entered into engine of the plane. Crew is busy to clean the engines. When contacted, Kamair representatives in Kabul blamed bad weather and low visibility in Kabul airport for problem/delay. In the mean time luggage of the passenger had been loaded to plane. After 5 hours Around 05:00pm a low rank police constable announced in the Hunker that flight to Kabul has been cancelled and the passengers had to leave. Poor passengers had no other option; they walked to Kamair desk/representatives in the terminal. Here they were again re-assured by someone claiming himself representative of the airline; The so-called representative was signing the rejected boarding passes from the passengers and was re-assuring the passengers that they will be given priority in the next morning flight.
Some frustrated passengers including my friends asked for returning their baggage but they were told it was not possible due to the reason that the pilot had already left, and all luggages is locked in the plane. Few minutes later he was successfully hided by police officials somewhere in the airport.
On the other hand, police officials informed people, that next day (March 20th) the airport would be closed for public due arrival of VIPs for Nawroz (New Year’s) celebration.
So my poor friends were asking me to guide them what they should do. They couldn’t have their luggage back. To whom they could complain? Will they really fly on next flight? Will they be allowed to the airport? Whom they contact for providing them true information? Will he experience the same as they experienced in last two days? Could they get to their next connecting flight?
I couldn’t answer any of their queries…