Tom Hanks’ “The Terminal” plays out at Delhi Airport: German inside airport for over 50 days

I recently watched a re-run of Steven Spielberg’s The Terminal starring Tom Hanks. It is about a passenger, Viktor Navorski, who arrives in New York only to have his credentials to enter the USA declined. He lived in the airport for many days before making it into the US.  If you haven’t watched the movie, do check it out.

It turns out, a real-life version of this story has been playing out at the Delhi Airport since March 18, 2020. As per the Hindustan Times, a 40-year-old German national was on his way from Hanoi to Istanbul on March 18 via India. He arrived in Delhi on a VietJetAir flight. However, India cancelled all flights to-and-from Turkey due to the CoronaVirus spread at the same time, and later extended the ban to all flights domestically and internationally as well.

The very sudden lockdown on international flights caused problems for many passengers, however, what caused a problem, in this case, is that the said passenger has a criminal record back home and the country has refused to take custody of him since he is outside Germany at the moment. As per the German Embassy, said person is a wanted criminal back home with several charges against him.  For the same reason of an existing criminal record, India has also not provided him with a visa.

This German national has been staying inside the transit area of Delhi Airport’s Terminal 3 for the past 54 days. For a meal, he eats at the few outlets which are allowed to open inside the airport. For exercise, he walks around the transit area. The airport authorities have provided him with the essentials needed to feel at home, such as a recliner bed and toothpaste. While he has visas of many countries, this person needs to wait for international flight operations from India to resume to be able to board a flight to a country, any country, which is not Germany. This German national claims he has enough money to bear his own expenses as well.

Update: Said German national flew out of India to Amsterdam on a KLM repatriation flight on May 12, 2020

While we are all to make do with the reel version of The Terminal, there is someone living in the same situation right now, and I really can’t make up my mind if I should be happy or sad for the situation. 


  1. Not sad
    Has a criminal record and his home country will not take him

    Employ him at airport, let him live at same
    He made his bed, live with it

  2. The Terminal itself is actually based on/inspired by a real story! Mehran Karimi Nasseri lived for 18 years in CDG.

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