Air passengers in Delhi fall sick due to lack of AC amidst heatwave

Delhi air passengers fall sick due to no AC.

Delhi air passengers fall sick due to no AC.

On Wednesday, June 19, air passengers traveling from Delhi to Darbhanga on SpiceJet flight SG 476 faced a distressing ordeal as they were reportedly left waiting inside an aircraft without air conditioning (AC) for over an hour. This incident occurred amidst an ongoing heatwave, exacerbating the discomfort and causing several passengers to feel unwell. The experience has raised significant concerns about passenger safety and the airline’s response to extreme weather conditions.

Incident Overview

The flight, which was scheduled to depart from Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport, encountered an unexpected delay. As passengers boarded the aircraft and prepared for departure, they were soon faced with a lack of air conditioning. With outside temperatures soaring due to the heatwave, the conditions inside the stationary aircraft quickly became unbearable.

Passengers reported that the cabin temperature rose rapidly, making the air feel stifling and oppressive. The heatwave in Delhi had already pushed temperatures to dangerous levels, and without the cooling relief of the AC, the situation inside the plane deteriorated swiftly. Passengers, including elderly individuals and children, struggled to cope with the rising heat. Several people began to feel dizzy, nauseous, and lightheaded, with some even experiencing difficulty breathing.

Passengers’ Experiences

Numerous passengers took to social media to express their frustration and share their harrowing experiences. Videos and photos circulated online, showing visibly distressed passengers using makeshift fans, water bottles, and wet tissues in an attempt to cool down. Some passengers described feeling trapped and helpless, as there was no immediate relief or communication from the airline staff about the situation.

One passenger recounted, “It was like being in a furnace. The air was thick and suffocating. We kept asking the crew for help, but they seemed overwhelmed and couldn’t provide any clear answers. People were panicking, and children were crying. It was a nightmare.”

Another passenger, who was traveling with her elderly parents, expressed her concern for their well-being.I was scared they might faint or have a heatstroke. We were all drenched in sweat and desperate for some cool air.”

Airline Response

The airline’s response to the situation has been a point of contention. Passengers reported that communication from the crew was sparse and uninformative. Despite the rising distress among the passengers, there were no clear instructions or updates on when the AC would be restored or when the flight would take off.

A spokesperson for SpiceJet later issued a statement acknowledging the incident and apologizing for the inconvenience caused. The statement read, “We deeply regret the discomfort experienced by our passengers on flight SG 476 from Delhi to Darbhanga. Due to an unforeseen technical issue, the air conditioning system was temporarily non-functional. Our crew worked diligently to resolve the issue and ensure the safety and well-being of our passengers. We apologize for any distress caused and are conducting a thorough review to prevent such occurrences in the future.”

However, for many passengers, the apology came too late and did little to alleviate the trauma experienced during the ordeal. The lack of immediate action and poor communication during the incident left a lasting negative impression.

Health Implications

The health implications of such an incident are significant, especially given the extreme weather conditions. Prolonged exposure to high temperatures in an enclosed space can lead to heat exhaustion and heatstroke, conditions that can be life-threatening if not addressed promptly.

If not treated, heat exhaustion can progress to heatstroke, characterized by a high body temperature, altered mental state, rapid breathing, and potential loss of consciousness. In severe cases, heatstroke can cause damage to vital organs and even result in death.

For the passengers on SG 476, the lack of air conditioning in the midst of a heatwave posed a serious risk. The combination of high ambient temperatures and the confined space of the aircraft created a hazardous environment, particularly for vulnerable individuals such as the elderly, children, and those with pre-existing health conditions.

Broader Implications and Regulatory Concerns

This incident also raises broader concerns about airline operations and regulatory oversight in extreme weather conditions. The aviation industry is heavily regulated to ensure passenger safety, and airlines are required to adhere to stringent standards regarding aircraft maintenance and operational procedures. However, this incident suggests that there may be gaps in how these standards are implemented and enforced, particularly in the face of extreme weather events.

Regulatory bodies such as the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in India may need to review their guidelines and protocols to ensure that airlines are adequately prepared to handle such situations. This could include stricter requirements for pre-flight checks of essential systems like air conditioning, improved training for airline staff in handling passenger discomfort and emergencies, and clearer communication protocols to keep passengers informed during delays and technical issues.

Passenger Rights and Recourse

For the affected passengers, the incident on flight SG 476 highlights the importance of knowing their rights and avenues for recourse. In many countries, including India, there are regulations in place to protect air passengers and ensure they receive fair treatment in the event of delays, cancellations, or other service disruptions.

Passengers who experience significant delays or suffer undue discomfort due to airline failures can often seek compensation or refunds. They can file complaints with the airline directly, and if the response is unsatisfactory, escalate the issue to the relevant aviation regulatory body. In this case, passengers may consider lodging complaints with SpiceJet and, if necessary, the DGCA to seek appropriate redress and ensure that measures are taken to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Moving Forward

The incident on SpiceJet flight SG 476 serves as a stark reminder of the challenges and responsibilities faced by the aviation industry, particularly in an era of increasingly extreme weather patterns. As global temperatures rise and heatwaves become more frequent and severe, airlines must be proactive in adapting their operations to ensure passenger safety and comfort.

This includes not only maintaining and upgrading essential systems like air conditioning but also implementing robust contingency plans for handling delays and technical issues. Effective communication with passengers is crucial, as timely and transparent information can help alleviate anxiety and maintain trust during unexpected disruptions.

Moreover, regulatory bodies must continue to scrutinize airline operations and enforce compliance with safety standards. Regular audits, inspections, and stringent penalties for non-compliance can help ensure that airlines prioritize passenger safety and are equipped to handle emergencies.

For passengers, staying informed about their rights and the procedures for seeking recourse is essential. By holding airlines accountable and advocating for better service standards, passengers can contribute to a safer and more reliable air travel experience.


The ordeal faced by passengers on SpiceJet flight SG 476 is a poignant example of the vulnerabilities within the aviation industry, particularly in the context of extreme weather events. The lack of air conditioning on a delayed flight during a heatwave posed serious health risks and highlighted the need for better preparedness and communication from airlines.

As the aviation industry navigates the challenges posed by climate change and increasing weather volatility, a concerted effort is needed from all stakeholders—airlines, regulatory bodies, and passengers—to ensure safety, comfort, and accountability. By learning from incidents like this and implementing necessary improvements, the industry can strive towards a more resilient and passenger-centric future.

Passengers on SG 476 endured significant discomfort and distress, but their experiences can serve as a catalyst for positive change. By addressing the gaps and weaknesses exposed by this incident, the aviation industry can enhance its ability to protect and serve passengers, even in the face of increasingly extreme weather conditions.

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