Air India: Agonizing Hours and a Happy Ending

On August 19, 2012, we left for India after a very happy 4 months stay in US. Shannon had bought the tickets of American Airlines for up to JFK, New York Airport. Thereon, we had already the tickets bought through ‘Makemytrips’ in India. Anand was accompanying us up to New York. When I came to know of that, I was happy as well as morose: happy because Anand would be with us for few more hours and morose because I have become too old requiring this assistance.

At Raleigh Airport, we had to go to the departure counter of American Airlines to check in baggage though we already had the boarding passes obtained on line. AA accepted our baggage directly for New Delhi. In US, one is to pay for the check in baggage for the local flight. It was raining in Raleigh, we considered it auspicious. We were happy as Emma and Zach were there to see off with Shannon.

At JFK, because of the wheel chair assistance we had sought for Yamuna, we could easily reach terminal 4 from terminal 8 for the departure counter of Air India. While waiting for our turn, and the response of the easy going counter attendants, we got the feel of the quality of services, Air India provides to its passengers. We had to wait unnecessarily. If Air India is to compete with other commercial airlines, it must provide better services everywhere. It must have efficient staffs. I doubt it has lately outsourced it to some cheap agency with the poorly paid staffs and without efficient supervision.

As usual, the security check at JFK was tough. That requires pulling down your shoes and even leather belts. Every time we keep worrying if we missed some items to collect back at the end of scanning conveyor. However, the body scanning machine was the latest. The security man didn’t touch the body all over that I hated.

Interestingly, instead of the direct flight to New Delhi, the Air India flight from New York had changed as one with a stopover at Charles de Gaulle Airport Paris. It took away the advantage of reaching New Delhi and so Noida residence well in time.

But the major shock of the service failure was waiting at New Delhi Airport. After the hassles for getting a wheel chair for Yamuna, I found that my baggage had not reached with us from the flight. I had faced this for the first time in my frequently traveling life. Further, it took almost an hour or more at the airport with heavy heart to get the complaint registered and getting the receipt. It is difficult to tell which of the airlines was responsible for this chaos and our agony: American Airlines or Air India. We waited for almost 36 hours.

I hardly hoped to get that back. We didn’t have anything very costly in that, but Yamuna had all her newly purchased western dresses and gifts for few friends including some medicines. I was worried for all the wirings and accessories of my lap top, camera and iPad that Anand had made me transferred to the check-in suitcase for cutting down the weight of my computer bag I carried.

However, we got it safely on August 22. Air India delivered that at our home in Noida. Everything was intact. All is well that ends well.

Will some CEO of Air India turn around this PSU and make it at least as efficient as BHEL and NTPC? More than Dreamliners, it requires a good management and participation of its employees getting huge salaries and perks. Will the government provide it with all autonomy to its CEO along with financial packages? Will the remaining hurdles in the success of the merger of Air India and Indian Airlines be sorted out? Will it get back to its respectability of the old Maharaja days?

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3 Responses to Air India: Agonizing Hours and a Happy Ending

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