Pakistan International Airlines has once again come under fire from angry customers after they were made to wait almost 20 hours for a flight to finally arrive at Leeds Bradford Airport last week.
After an exhausting nine-hour flight, which had already been delayed two hours, passengers on the PK775 flight from Islamabad to LBA were told that the plane would have to be diverted to Manchester Airport due to adverse weather conditions.
Upon arrival at Manchester, the plane was then grounded on the runway for a further four hours with passengers still onboard, before being flown back to LBA for a final time.
The whole ordeal resulted in the passengers finally leaving the plane seven hours later than expected, and for a number of Bradford residents affected by the delay, it was the ‘final straw’ for the highly-criticised airline.
Mohammed Ilyas was one resident who went to the LBA to collect his 84-year-old grandmother, only to be put through the lengthy ordeal.
With his relative not being given any food or water during the delay, Mr Ilyas has now written to the airline and says this is not the first time something like this has happened with PIA.
“It seems that every flight is either delayed or there are complaints with this airline,” he said.
“There was that shocking case of the drunk pilot not so long ago and for me PIA are doing nothing to better their reputation.
“Thankfully, when I travel to Pakistan I can go by Emirates and stopover in a country yet for elders it is a big inconvenience. They don’t want to change planes and that means they have to fly with PIA as they are the only providers who do this.”
He added: “What happened last weekend was absolutely shocking. For people to be sat on the runway of Manchester Airport for four hours and not be allowed off the plane is ridiculous.
“I didn’t meet my grandmother until 2am, despite her plane scheduled for landing the previous afternoon.”
Cllr Ishtiaq Ahmed, representative of the Manningham Ward for the Bradford Independent Group, was also waiting for his relatives, including his almost 90-year-old grandmother, to arrive on the same flight.
Describing the handling of the situation by the airline as ‘appalling’ and ‘ridiculous’ Mr Ahmed was forced to pay more than £40 in just parking fees, with the additional cost of petrol for two cars to journey to Manchester and back.
It is not the first time the Bradford councillor has been affected by PIA and he now believes that boycotting the airline may be the only way to force PIA to ‘change its ways’.
He explained: “The only reason most people fly with PIA in my experience is because it is the only direct flight to Pakistan from here.
“Other airlines may stop off in Dubai or somewhere and that changeover is obviously not preferable for elderly passengers in particular, but the way PIA have been handling their customer service is just terrible.
“It has gone so far that people are just so sick of it now. I hadn’t been on a PIA flight for 18 years and when I did I found that nothing had changed, if anything, things had gotten even worse.”
Mr Ahmed flew with the airline at New Year’s and was made to queue for more than four hours to just get on the plane.
He believes that this experience, plus last weekend’s incident, has not only emphasised the airline’s poor customer service but reiterated that the time for a boycott may have arrived.
“Every time we are flying with PIA we spend around £500 and £600 and we have to expect some level of customer service,” he said.
“My family has told me that on their flight in the weekend, they were never told what was happening and there was just no communication at all.
“Things have to change if PIA are to ever learn and if we must boycott the airline to see results, then maybe that is what we should do.”
A PIA spokesperson apologised for the delay in an issued statement. It read: “We do regret the delay and inconvenience caused to our valued customers but sometimes the situation gets beyond human control.
“We once again apologise to our valued customers and assure them of better service in future.”