Published: 18th August 2021
Stuck in transit: Why these 270 Indian students were stranded for over 36 hours on the aircraft
It had been more than 36 hours that they had left India. Many were worried that they would be sent back to India leading to heavy financial loss
The morning of August 18 was a nightmare for at least 270 Indian students who were on their way to Canada via Mexico City after their flight was stuck for over 36 hours in Spain — the transit destination. The aircraft was yet to get a landing slot confirmation. Unaware of the reason, many reached out to the Indian Embassy in Mexico for help via Twitter.
One of the students who were stuck tweeted at 5 AM, "We are a group of 270 students stuck at Madrid airport, it was just transit and our destination is Toronto via Mexico City. There have been issues of permissions with the Mexican government. And it's been more than 36 hours since we left India for Mexico. Please help." To his relief, the Indian Embassy in Mexico responded in an hour saying that they are coordinating with the Agencia Federal de Aviación Civil (AFAC), which is the official Mexican aviation authority.
Another student stuck in the flight explained that a lot of students had booked their flight via the same travel agency, "The travel agency that we booked with haven’t informed us anything and there’s no transparency why we are stranded in a country where we aren’t (supposed) to wait."
Another student who was on her way to pursue her higher education in Canada tagged the Embassy, the Prime Minister's Office, the External Affairs Minister, and said, "Please help. We don't want to go back (to India). We have invested lakhs in this. This is so depressing, our mental health is being compromised. We haven't slept or have had access to any resting lounge for 36 hours."
It was only by 8:45 AM that the Embassy's official Twitter handle released a clarification, "The delay in departure from Madrid was due to requirements relating to landing slot confirmations. The charter flight now has all necessary permissions and is scheduled for departure at 9 AM from Spain to México."
At present, the Government of Canada has put a ban on direct flights from India till September 21 in light of the COVID situation in India. However, Canada is allowing Indian travelers to enter its borders via an indirect route. But there is a catch there as well, anyone entering Canada by transiting through another country, must have a COVID-19 molecular test (PCR test) done from a country other than India before reaching Canada.