Coronavirus Pandemic

Stuck for over 3 days at Frankfurt airport, UAE resident calls for help

Dhanusha Gokulan (Principal Correspondent)/Dubai Filed on July 8, 2020
Frankfurt airport, UAE, resident, Indian woman

Stuck in the airport, she has been sleeping on seats and the floor of waiting lounge, while making repeated attempts to get the ICA approvals.

An Abu Dhabi-based Indian woman, stranded at Frankfurt International Airport for close to four days, has appealed to authorities to let her back into the UAE.

Priya Mehta, an advertising professional, travelled from San Francisco International Airport (US) to Frankfurt (Germany) to catch a connecting flight to Dubai on Saturday (July 4).

However, she was not allowed to board her flight from Frankfurt as she did not have the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) approvals. "I was led to believe by the airlines - Lufthansa and United Airlines - that I do not need the ICA approvals anymore, especially since I have a residence visa," Priya told Khaleej Times over the phone from Frankfurt.

She said she got the boarding passes for both destinations - Dubai and Frankfurt - from San Francisco. "If I had known, I would have stayed back in the US. Both airlines gave me the assurance that I can fly. When I reached Frankfurt, I was I told I cannot go ahead. I asked so many people...everyone said it was okay and Dubai was allowing residents back into the country," she added.

Stuck in the airport, she has been sleeping on seats and the floor of waiting lounge, while making repeated attempts to get the ICA approvals. "I have changed the dates of my tickets at least 13 times," she said.

Priya, who is a single woman and the sole breadwinner of her family, travelled to California to take care of her ailing uncle and aunt. "I have no relatives in the UAE and my dad lives in India. I need to get back to work," she added. The company Priya works for has also sent a letter to authorities in Frankfurt explaining her situation, and stating that she needs to resume work.

She said: "I did not go to San Francisco on a holiday. I went there to take care of my ailing relatives. I took a vacation after two years of work. I was supposed to return to Dubai on March 19, and a day before my flight, I got a call informing me that the flight is cancelled."

Upon contacting Lufthansa Airlines via social media regarding Priya's case, a representative of the airline said: "According to the booking, the reason for the boarding denial has been communicated and agreed by the passenger. Kindly note that we, as airline, are unable to ignore travel restrictions introduced by a destination country."

Priya said: "I wish I am at least given accommodation at the airport or some alternative place where I can sleep. On the first night, I had to make do with tap water because all the stores were closed and I could not buy anything. Now, I am sleeping on the floor. Women are not treated this way in the UAE."

For the ad professional, the experience has been harrowing and she is now scared about contracting Covid-19. "It is unsafe and very messy out here, and everything is written in German. The airline staff have been very rude. Some people are not wearing masks properly," said an exhausted and exasperated Priya, desperate to return home.



Dhanusha Gokulan

Originally from India, Dhanusha Gokulan has been working as a journalist for 10 years. She has a keen interest in writing about issues that plague the common person and will never turn down a human interest story. She completed her Bachelor in Arts in Journalism, Economics and English Literature from Mangalore University in 2008. In her spare time, she dabbles with some singing/songwriting, loves travelling and Audible is her favourite mobile application. Tweet at her @wordjunkie88

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