The airlines delays flights routinely, shows no courtesy and denies passengers boarding right for coming 5 minutes late
Jasleen Kaur | February 19, 2015 | New Delhi
National carrier Air India is back in bad weather condition and I know why. In October last year I was looking for cheapest air tickets to Kochi for my parents’ trip.
I have travelled to Kerala. I knew that that most of the flights are one-stop and takes almost the entire day to reach the first destination, Allepey, some 95 km away from Kochi airport. So I decided to book an early morning direct flight to save time.
But there were not many options. Our travel agent, also my cousin, suggested booking the early morning Air India flight, available at a reasonable price and meal included; unlike other low cost private airlines.
On his suggestion we booked the Air India flight (AI 467) for February 9 scheduled at 5.55am and return flight for February 14 (AI 075) scheduled at 3.20pm in October, four months in advance. I thought I managed to get a great deal.
Just two days before the flight, the agent informed us that the return flight has been rescheduled to 7 am on February 14 and there was no explanation as to why it has been done. As a result the itinerary that day was completely ruined. But we did not bother much thinking the airline must have had good reasons for doing this.
On the day of boarding the flight, I spoke with my parents at around 5.15 am, they had checked in and about to board the flight. I went to sleep and their nightmare began.
They were supposed to reach the Kochi at 9.00 am. When I did not get any call from them till 9.30am, I called them up to ask if they have reached safely. But to my surprise, they were still at the Delhi airport and had no clue when the flight would take off.
This is their airport journey in Delhi: They boarded the flight at 5.20am. But at 6am the passengers were asked to de-board the flight as the aircraft had technical fault.
For the next 45 minutes, they were kept waiting near the lobby area. Among the passengers were many senior citizens. But there was no help coming from the airline staff.
At 6.45 am they again boarded the flight. They were inside the aircraft for an hour and there was no service, no meal or no water. And at 7.45 am, the passengers were again asked to de-board the flight. The staff told them that while the earlier problem was resolved, some other fault had been detected.
After de-boarding the flight for the second time, they (my parents and other passengers) directed to the check in counter to get new boarding passes for another flight. But nobody had a clue when this new flight will take off. There was already a delay of two hours.
After the whole process of issuing new boarding passes, passengers were asked to head to a particular gate number, which was really far away.
At around 10am, when my parents were ready to board the flight, they came to know that some passengers, who had fought with the airline staff managed to get their meals at a restaurant, while others were not even informed. Around 10.20am the flight finally took off, a delay of 4 hours and 25 minutes.
While we tried to call up the customer care executives, there was just no response. The phone calls went unanswered and there was no reply to the mails.
After two days, my cousin informed me that he spoke with some senior executives and requested them to reschedule the return flight to compensate the loss of hours. After several requests they agreed and rescheduled my parents’ flight to 8 pm on February 14.
To catch the flight at 8pm, my parents reached the Kochi airport at 6pm. The security guard at the gate warned them that they are before time as Air India flights are always delayed. But they were hoping for a better ride this time.
However, the security guard was right and my parents hopes were misplaced. Around 7pm an announcement was made that the flight was delayed by over an hour (9.15pm). At 9pm, rescheduling of the same flight to 10.15 was announced. Luckily, this was the last announcement and they finally boarded it.
The Air India has been taking passengers for a ride like the recent episode of a direct flight from India to Australia that was kept grounded for more than 8 hours on February 14, because of cabin crew shortage. Another flight on February 17 from Mumbai to Delhi could not take off on time as one of the pilots did not turn up on time since he was delayed at a temple where he had gone for the Mahashivratri festivities.
And then the youtube video which went viral. The video showed the airline’s staff’s behavior as they denied passengers boarding pass as they (passengers) had come late by 5 minutes.
The airliner, which does not maintain discipline in timely departures and arrivals talks of punishing passengers for coming late by 5 minutes.
This was our first and the last experience with the Maharaja. And, I would even tell others not to book an Air India flight, no matter how lucrative the deal seems.
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