Olive oil causes slippery issue at Dubai airport
He had to remove the oil from his checked in baggage, and the delay caused him to miss his flight
For Siddiq Jamal, a typist working in Karama, it should have been a happy occasion like any other vacation. But four litres of olive oil made it miserable. Instead of taking the Air India flight on Wednesday night to his home town in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, he had to spend the night and the whole of Thursday morning at Dubai Airport Terminal 2.
Siddiq had booked his ticket on flight AI 906 two months ago. And on Wednesday, he left for the airport with four litres of olive oil packed into his luggage to be checked in. Just like he had done several times before.
After check-in, immigration and security checks, he proceeded to the boarding gate, 'well on time'. According to Siddiq, he reached the boarding gate 45 minutes before the flight time at 11.30pm. When I reached there, one of the staff confirmed my name and asked me what I had inside my checked-in baggage. I told them there was nothing other than the usual stuff. They then asked if there was some oil, and I confirmed that there was olive oil in my luggage. I told them they could remove it, or even hold back the entire baggage, as there was nothing important in it. However, they made me wait for over half an hour, before taking me to the security room where the baggage was kept. By the time I removed the oil and returned, the flight had left. I had told them that I needed to fly back urgently.
Air India officials in Dubai clarified that Siddiq's experience is not alien. "It's because of the strict security rules followed by Dubai Airport. This quantity of oil can be dangerous when kept inside the plane. That's why passengers are asked to remove it from their luggage."
The duty manager at Air India's airport counter said if Siddiq had reached the boarding gate early, they could have taken him to the baggage area before the flight took off. "It happens regularly, as the security officials have made the safety rules much stricter now. If the passenger is late to the boarding gate, we can't hold the plane back for a single passenger."
Siddiq disagrees with the official's version, saying he was at the gate 45 minutes ahead of time. "They offered to fly me home on today's (Thursday) flight, and said I could leave the airport to go home and come back. But I'm apprehensive about this. So I've decided to stay back at the airport despite the fact that I'm fasting. Till now, (3.30pm, Thursday) I haven't found any Air India staff at the counter, and they haven't contacted me, either."
The Air India official confirmed that Siddiq would be flown home on Thursday's flight.
And Siddiq was, finally allowed to fly on the 8.35pm Air India Express flight to his home country, however, without the olive oil.
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