In yet another major lapse of security, an Amritsar-bound Spice Jet flight took off from Dubai on Thursday with the baggage of a passenger who had missed the flight.

The passenger, with an Indonesian passport, cleared immigration, security check and boarding, but failed to make it in time for her flight. By the time she reported back to the desk, the flight had already crossed the point of no return. The flight Captain was informed, upon which he requested the Amritsar ATC for an isolated parking stand. 

b’Source: PTI File Photoxc2xa0′

It is against accepted aviation security norms to fly with the checked in baggage of a passenger who themselves did not board the aircraft. Spice Jet has quickly deferred responsibility to airport security in Dubai, which, reportedly is looking into the matter. A Spice Jet Official told Times of India

“The passenger reported back at the boarding gate after one hour of flight departure, by then the flight was in Karachi airspace (ahead of point of no return) heading towards Amritsar .. The pilot decided to land in Amritsar to follow the procedure as per the norms. The security at Dubai Airport is the responsibility of Dubai airport security and not that of SpiceJet.” 

Spice Jet was in the news earlier this year when a Kochi-Mumbai flight almost took off without 40 passengers who were still on the bus, after being late for 75 minutes. The passengers saw their flight leave the runway, upon which they raised a hue and cry. The flight was called back in, and finally took off, three hours late.

b’Passengers outside Spice Jet counter at Mumbai domestic airport | Source: PTI File Photoxc2xa0′

According to aviation rules, the carrier has to make a head count of the checked-in passengers before take off. Airlines usually skip this step to hurry departure, and count the boarding stubs instead. 

Why is it a major security issue to carry in the checked in baggage of a passenger who has not boarded the flight? 

A former ICAO security auditor, P Mohanan explains to Times of India:

“In 1985, Air India’s Kanishka bombing took place only because the terrorists had checked-in their bags, but they didn’t board. Since then passenger-baggage reconciliation has been made mandatory . Even if one passenger has not boarded and hisher bag has been checked in, it has to be removed before the plane can depart. This is a major security breach and an inquiry should be conducted.” 

The Kanishka Bombing, as the incident later came to be known, killed over 300 people (everyone on-board including crew) on an Air India flight in 1985 as it exploded somewhere along the Irish Coast . It is widely believed that the terrorist outfit ‘Babbar Khalsa’ was responsible for the attack. 

(Feature Image Source: Reuters)