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02 June 2011

Luggage piles up at Jeddah airport

JEDDAH The departure lounge at King Abdul Aziz International Airport (KAIA) has been turned into a storeroom for the luggage of Umrah pilgrims. This is because many pilgrims arrived too early for their flights or brought too many bags in excess of the weight allowance.

The airport has recently been in the headlines after conveyer belts and computer systems broke down causing massive delays and widespread anger among travelers. On Wednesday there was a similar chaotic situation. Pilgrims had brought three to five pieces of luggage for every one piece allowed. This is not a new situation. Every year, foreign and local airlines have to contend with overloaded flights. 
This is in addition to some Umrah pilgrims coming to the airport much too early for their flights. This happens out of ignorance and also because some unscrupulous Umrah travel companies want their groups to leave early so that they can get money from new groups.
“We have many daily flights. So when Umrah pilgrims come to the airport early, they cause overcrowding and leave behind a great deal of waste,” said an airport official. He added that the airport is not responsible for the behavior of some Umrah companies. 
Many stranded Africans Saudi Gazette spoke to complained about the delay of their flights. Leman Hassan, a Nigerian, has been waiting at the airport for five days to go home on Sudan Airways.
“Our organizer told us that we are going to be leaving as soon as possible. However, we have been waiting here for five days for the promised flight home,” he said. 
He said the airport has now become their accommodation. “I have no money to buy food for my children. The food at the airport is expensive. I have to spend between SR35 to SR50 to get one meal,” he said.
Moreover, three international flights were delayed Wednesday morning without any notification to passengers. The three flights were to Karachi, Alexandria and Dhaka. – SG.


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