The SpiceJet crew (four pilots and flight attendants) landed in Zagreb expecting to have a layover in a hotel. However, upon arrival, the crew was asked for their negative coronavirus RT-PCR tests, which they did not have.

As a result, they were not allowed to leave the aircraft.

The airline blamed Croatian authorities for changing orders mid-air and insisting on RT-PCR negative tests after initially saying it was not required.

A SpiceJet official said: “Prior to departure from India, e-mail confirmation was received from Croatian authorities that RT-PCR is not required for crew. On arrival in Zagreb, crew was told that orders have changed. Due to sudden and massive increase in Covid cases in India, they have now been instructed that RT-PCR is required. This came as a surprise (to us).”

The crew had to spend 21 hours inside the Boeing 737. Ground personnel allegedly provided the crew with bedding, food, and water, so that they could at least get some rest.

“Since crew could not fly back immediately due to flight duty time limitation restrictions, bedding, food and water was provided in the aircraft and the plane was cleaned. DGCA permission was obtained. Crew rested in aircraft for 21 hours (as mandated by regulation). They then flew back to Delhi. All crew confirmed that they were comfortable and happy with the arrangements,” the SpiceJet official said.

The flight returned empty the following day without passengers or cargo.