Monday, November 21, 2005

Air India Sucks

Had been to Delhi over the weekend along with a friend of mine. This is what resulted on our way back home.

We planned to book our tickets on the 10pm flight on Sunday. Coz, that's the cheapest one available. Just Rs.2.5k as against all other airlines including the so-called low-cost airlines, which charges Rs. 5k upwards. We reached the Delhi International Airport at around 12 noon on Sunday. We had planned to book our tickets and then spend the rest of the day roaming around Delhi checking out places, etc.

The first aspect that surprised us was that there were 5 employees at the Air-india counter, of which only one seemed to be working, or atleast pretending to be working. The rest were idling away their time, with a couple of them watching some clips on their cell-phones. Maybe, it was their free-time. So what they do in their free-time is not my concern. The computer on which the tickets were being booked was atleast 6-8 feet away from the counter. Every time, the person had to shout to ask our details and we had to duly oblige him, again shouting. Till an enterprising staff member stood in between and started acting as the mediator for the entire process. The person booked us on the 10 pm flight, gave us a PNR no. and asked us to come 2 hrs prior to the flight to collect our tickets. Having travelled very little by air, we had no clue what the funda behind PNR no. is. But, on being asked "8 baje ticket mil jayega na", he coolly replied, "Haan Haan. Aap 8 baje aa jaaiye. Aapko ticket mil jaayega."

We duly reached at around 8:10 pm and found around 8-10 people in the queue. There was nobody at the counter. We thought, maybe he has gone to take a leak. On asking others we found that the counter was empty since 7 pm. Surely, a leak does not take an hour. We learnt from a fellow passenger that even he had a PNR no. for the 7 pm flight. This person had reached at around 5 pm and he was informed at around 6.45 that the flight was full and that he would have to wait for the 10 pm flight. A few people went to the airport manager to inform him about the situation, who obviously washed his hands off the situation and instead gave the phone no. of some Air-India official. No reply from the other end, even after continuously trying his no. for around 10 minutes. The person finally appeared at around 9 pm and asked us to write down our names on a sheet of paper. I told him that we had a PNR no. and he just brushed it aside, citing that fresh bookings would be done. We were naturally pissed. After another 20-30 minutes (9.40 pm), he started the booking process. He booked 4 people (I and my friend were the unlucky no. 5 and no. 6 on the list), and then said, there are no more seats available.

Worse was to follow. The 4 persons who had their tickets booked, entered the airport. We were still waiting in the hope that divine intervention would somehow conspire in our favour. At around 10.15 pm, three of those four persons were seen entering the counter and having an argument. It turned out that there was just 1 seat available and the counter official had erred in booking 4 of them. They all were quite obviously angry, but could not do anything. And that poor guy who had a PNR no. on the 7 pm flight was again left stranded. We had to go all the way to domestic airport and book the Jet Airways flight scheduled for 9.40 am the next day.

Firstly, the official in the morning did not tell us that PNR nos. are useless. In fact, he assured us that we would be getting tickets two hours prior to the flight. This was utterly stupid and callous on his part. On his assurance, we did not care to inquire about other flights scheduled for Bombay in the evening or night. Now, imagine if some person had to urgently reach Bombay and if he had been in our position. In fact, I and my friend had to reach our workplace on Monday. I guess, that is urgent enough. Why go through the entire charade of so-called booking tickets in the morning and asking people to turn up prior to the flight and then subjecting them to such shoddy service.

Secondly, in this age of computerisation, how can you book four tickets when there is just one seat available. Is Air-India living in the Jurassic Age?

Thirdly, how can an airlines booking counter be empty for more than 2 hours. Much better service is delivered by Indian Railways, or for that matter even at State Transport bus-stands.

Being a person, who has quite recently entered corporate life, I sure would be doing a lot more air-travel in future. But, I have vowed never ever to fly Air-India. Is this the airlines that was founded by the great JRD Tata?

PS: The screens showed three Air-India flights for Bombay. The timings were 10 pm, 10.15 pm and 10.35 pm. We asked whether there are any seats available on the other flights. The official replied, "There is only one flight. And that is at 10 pm." When we told him about what the screens were showing, he coolly replied, "Actually, the 10 pm flight normally gets a bit delayed. So, we also show 10.15 and 10.35 on the screens." WHAT THE FUCK!!!


Blogger K.K. said...

i can just empathize with you. Its high time that all government agencies function in a more consumer centric way.

8:27 PM  
Blogger Ritesh Nadhani said...


When they try to make airpots private, up goes all those pseudo politicians arm!

5:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why should government be involved in flying planes business? The whole idea of Indian-government-poking-its-nose-in-every-business is absurd. Either privatize or kill it.

No need for a disgusting airlines that is abused by government machinery and employees at the cost of the tax payers money, all the time

5:07 PM  

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