I hated Air India earlier. That was when I had the option to travel both by the government carrier as well as by the private airlines. I disliked the way the hospitality crew threw stale sandwiches at me in a fusty demeanour. Instead, I adored the ‘king of good times’ for his much more personable team with stylish red attire and cordiality. But later, when the organization where I was attached to, put a blanket ban on any travel by the profit making enterprises, I was forced to get back to the Maharaja again.
|Air India's new Dreamliner|
But it was an amazing experience thereafter on each trip. I found a radical transformation in the attitude of the crew of Air India in the last few years. The personnel started taking very sincere efforts to compete with private operators by enhancing the airline’s overall performance, improving the quality of service, and offering much better hospitality. While the carrier which claims to fly people at a low cost (but the price many times comparable to Air India) would not even give you a glass of water without begging more than once, Air India gives delicious meals on long trips and tasty snacks on short trips. I found the crew of Air India much more natural and genuine in their conduct and response than the artificial grins of the crews of some of private operators.
We found that good times are not permanent if the smiles are not built on strong foundations. Beauty is not skin deep. Colourful empires crumbled and found it difficult to pay for the smiles. One can’t blame these airlines alone. Which airline in the aviation industry has made consistent profits in the world? Not a single one. So the problems are much more deep rooted.
My adoration to Air India suffered a dent a few days back. That was when I saw the news about a few hapless travellers who faced the wrath of certain officials and security men for demonstrating their legitimate protest against the decision of the airline to drop them off at Thiruvananthapuram airport instead of Kochi airport for which they had paid the fare. In fact, about 200 odd passengers spent more than 10 hours in the flight without snacks, drinking water, or air conditioning. It was alleged that one of the police officials told the angry passengers to drink urine, if they were thirsty. And I saw a video footage of some of these passengers manhandled by uniformed men, in one of the television channels. May be, the passengers were wrong if they have prevented the pilot from leaving the aircraft. But Air India should have taken care to prevent such miseries happening to the passengers. In the long run, this would definitely affect the image of the airline which is striving to retain its market share.
|Courtsey: Deccan Chronicle|
Air India is still the best as compared to many other airlines plying in the domestic sector, though I am not sure of the international sector. I had bitter experiences of getting stranded because of the inefficiency of some private airlines. I have mentioned one such incident in one of my earlier articles ‘Low cost window dressing of life’. I have also experienced how crews of some international airlines discriminate passengers from different countries in their hospitality and approach. Instead of boycotting an Airline for a few unfortunate instances of individual aberrations, there should be systematic demands for effective and long-term solutions for consumer issues. The ball is in the court of the officials.
(Views are personal)
Sibichen K Mathew
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