IndiGo Flight Mumbai: Extra Passenger Discovered in Cabin

An IndiGo aircraft parked at Bengaluru Airport.
Photo Credit: Gaurav Gowda/AviationSource

In a bizarre incident reported from India, a passenger was found standing in the rear of an IndiGo aircraft cabin by a crew member.

On 21 May, IndiGo flight 6E6543 had pushed back from its stand and was taxiing towards the runway. At this the cabin crew discovered that the flight was overbooked by one passenger.

IndiGo flight 6E6543 was scheduled to depart from Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (BOM). The aircraft was on a scheduled regional service bound for Varanasi.

Extra Passenger in Cabin

After taxiing towards the runway, the aircraft then returned to the bay around 07:50 am IST. The incident was reported to DGCA and the airlines ground staff de-boarded the overbooked passenger.

An airline representative spoke in a statement following the incident. “There was an error during the passenger boarding process of 6E6543 from Mumbai to Varanasi. A standby passenger was allotted a seat reserved for a confirmed passenger.”

“The error was noticed prior to the departure of the aircraft, and the standby passenger was de-boarded. This led to a slight delay in the departure of the aircraft.”

“IndiGo will take all measures to strengthen its operational processes and regrets the inconvenience caused to customers”.

The incident came to light when the cabin crew noticed the man standing at the rear end of the aircraft cabin. After detecting the anomaly the crew member immediately informed the captain about it.

Following the SOP’s, the captain decided to return to the bay. All the baggage was subsequently re-checked, and only then the aircraft was allowed to continue its journey.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) of India has asked the airline to submit a detailed report regarding this incident.

Cause of the Overbooking

The airline later clarified that the overbooked passenger was on a stand-by ticket. Indigo staff had arranged this under their “Staff Leisure Program” (SLT) and the passenger was issued a stand-by ticket.

SLT is program under which airline staff can travel across the network of the airline by paying a very nominal fare.

Under this program the staff is issued a stand-by ticket which is confirmed only in the last minute if there is any seat availability.

An IndiGo Airbus on the taxiway.
Sean D Silva (GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2), via Wikimedia Commons

According to the airline there was an issue with the system which resulted in a confirmed seat beings allotted to the stand-by passenger, and hence the mix-up unfolded.

Occurrences of such incidents are very rare as there are many SOPs in place to ensure such incidents do not occur. This raises some questions as to whether the SOPs were properly followed or not.

According to the guidelines, the crew is supposed to take a head count before pushback to ensure the passenger manifesto count is correct.

How was this passenger missed during that count? During the safety demonstration, which usually begins after “Door close”, every passenger must be seated. A further question is, how could this passenger be not noticed by the crew even during the pre-takeoff safety briefing?

Only a proper investigation into this incident would highlight the safety lapses that allowed this incident to take place.

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