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14 years old Viraj stranded at Shanghai Airport, China

Kirit Nama – 6

· English

This is a story/experience of 14 years old Viraj who was stranded at Shanghai Airport, China. Nobody for guidance, help support. The family at Mumbai was under panic, the child was alone, language barrier, communication problem.

The Shah family at Thane Mumbai was praying God to help their child to get back to Mumbai.

It could be the story, experience for anbody’s child. The Global Airline rules for child travelling domestic or abroad –

“Rules for children travelling alone during Air Travel”

  • A child below the age of 12 is to be accompanied by an adult person.
  • The parents has to submit a declaration while buying ticket for the child giving name of the adult who is going to accompany the child.
  • If the child is above 12 (between 12 and 18) he could be allowed to travel alone provided his parents at the time of ticket booking give details of the person who will bring the child to the airline staff at the airport of departure and who will pick up the child at the arrival airport.
  • The parent has to give declaration, asking the airlines and giving permission for such air travel.
  • Such child’s adult guardian/parent has to drop the child at the departure airport and they have to hand over the child to the appropriate airline’s staff.
  • Particularly, during international travel, the airlines many times/usually disallow the child to travel if these formalities are not completed.

“Story/Experience of Viraj Shah”

On 11th August, 2019 (Sunday) evening at around 5.45 pm my school friend Shri Rajnikant Shah telephoned me. At that time, I was away at Alibag.

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  • He told me that his cousin Dr. Sonal Shah’s son is in big trouble.
  • Their 14 years old son Viraj Shah had gone to China for international maths coaching/event at Shanghai, China.
  • That coaching was for one month starting from 6th July, 2019.
  • After completing the course the organizer made arrangement to drop Viraj at Shanghai Airport.

When Viraj approached the Air India counter at Shanghai, the local chinese staff (agency staff) at the airport refused to entertain Viraj.

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  • The agency staff at the check-in counter inquired Viraj how he is alone?
  • Who is authorised to drop him at Shanghai Airport?
  • Where is the authorisation, declaration papers.
  • They refused to give him Boarding Pass.
  • Viraj, the 14 years old child was alone, he does not know chinese language, the communication is very tough.
  • The mobile telephone/communication services with his parents were also not possible.
  • Viraj’s Indian mobile sim card was not working there, he was under panic.
  • With the help of another passenger Viraj could pass on message to his parents Dr. Sonal Shah and Shri Smitesh Shah.

Both the parents were trying to contact the local Air India pepole, friends, relatives to help them. At this time my school friend (from M. M. Pupils Own School, Khar, Mumbai) contacted me for help. I asked him to send the details.

          I informed to the Personal Secretary (Mr. Yashpal Diwan) of Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri.

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I immediately contacted my contacts at Air India and Civil Aviation Ministry. I could able to contact Shri Mukesh Bhatia, Director in Air India and also the staff of Civil Aviation Minister Shri Hardeep Puri.

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  • Shri Mukesh Bhatia understood the problem and asked me for few minutes to find out the way.
  • After few minutes Shri Mukhes Bhatia communicated me to ask Viraj’s parent to send an authorisation letter requesting the Air India to allow the child to travel from Shanghai to Mumbai and submit the name of the person who will receive the child at Mumbai Airport. 
  • Immediately I communicated the message to Shri Rajnikant and asked him to ask the parent of Viraj to send me a letter, may be hand written, immediately on whatsapp giving such authorisation. In couple of minutes Viraj’s mother Dr. Smt. Sonal Shah send such letter to Shri Rajnikant who Whats App  the same to me to pass on to Shri Mukesh Bhatia.
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  • Let me appreciate the promptness, the sensitiveness shown by frined, senior officer of Air India Shri Mukesh Bhatia. He did not waste a single minute, he passed on the messages to the all concerned and also responded me about the communication and the promptness of Air India. 
  • In few minutes Shri Mukesh Bhatia communicated me that Air India and local Chinese staff/agency is taking care of the child Master Viraj Shah.
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  • In few minutes Shri Rajnikant also informed me that Viraj has been given boarding pass. 
  • I was in constant, minute to minute touch with Shri Rajnikant, Viraj’s father and mother, Shri Mukesh Bhatia, Civil Aviation Ministry Official. 
  • The parents, Rajnikant and myself were under tension till the child boarded and the flight took off.Add paragraph text here.

At 6.19 pm Rajnikant inform me boarding pass issued to Viraj

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  • In the evening at around 9 pm I got message from the parents that the child has boarded and the flight is taking off.  
  • Next day i.e. on Monday morning Shanghai-Mumbai flight landed at MumbaiAdd paragraph text here.

Messages From Parents

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  • Viraj’s Father Dr. Smitesh Shah was at Airport to pick up his child. 
  • On Monday 12th August at around 7.50 am Viraj arrived his home at Thane.
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“All ended with happy notes”

Lesson to learn-

  • What would happen if Viraj was not allowed to travel?
  • Where the boy could have gone?
  • No proper communication, 14 years old child, the language problem.
  • The Indian mobile sim card was not functioning there.
  • The parents were scared what will happen to their child.
  • This could happen with our child also. Sometime in pressure either the travel agent, the parents, event organizers or business agencies in rush to reach or complete the event ignore the basic formalities and basic safeguard provided by the regulators, government system, airlines agencies.
  • The basic rule that the child either have to be accompanied by an adult or if he is above 12, the parents are asked to provide/develop a proper safety network who will receive the child, who will drop the child. In case of any incident/accident, if the schedule is disturbed who will take care of the child in foreign land. Rules are provided for the safety and protection of our children.

If anything goes wrong, instead of getting panic the parents must approach the appropriate authority/person and protect their child.

Master Viraj Shah is a very intelligent boy, in maths examinations getting various scholarships. In September he will be going to USA.

My best wishes to young Indian mathematician Shri Viraj Shah.

With Viraj and his family at his Thane (Mumbai) residence on 13 Aug, 2019

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