Air India doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to customer service, and the airline only made things exponentially worse for itself on Sunday, when it made almost 300 people flying from Delhi to Mumbai wait the whole night at the Delhi airport, media reports said.
The passengers of Air India flight AI-317 suffered through the night after the Mumbai-bound flight was delayed several times before it was finally cancelled, CNN-IBN reported. The flight, which was scheduled to take off at 10.35 pm, was only cancelled at 4 am.
On the intervening night of 8 March and 9 March, passengers were made to wait for almost the entire night with just one crew member attending to them, the passengers told CNN-IBN.
When contacted, Air India told CNN-IBN:
“On that particular day, we had bad weather in Delhi. Three flights of Air India were diverted to Jaipur. Subsequently, there was air traffic congestion. So the aircraft did not arrive till a lot later and there was no equipment available. Passengers were given a choice to take the next flight out and hotel accommodation was provided. We had enough staff on the ground, but they were managing three flights. Passengers were given the choice as soon as we were given the details of the congestion at Terminal 3 of the Delhi Airport. There was no issue with pilots or cabin crew. We were fully staffed and information was given to the passengers on a regular basis. They were also accommodated as soon and as smoothly as possible.”
According to the passengers however, the airline made no reservations in any hotel for the harrowed passengers. At around 11.30 pm, the passengers were told that the flight had left Pune and would reach Delhi by 12.30 am, Mumbai Mirror reported.
Akshay Chitre, who along with other passengers waited at the T3 terminal of Delhi International Airport for the whole night before they were put on another flight, wrote on his blog:
“We finally decided to sit at the airport shouting out slogans against Air India but nothing happening at all, the CISF just being a spectator watching us with smiles as it was not their prerogative to do anything at all, after shouting more slogans against Air India, shaming my own countries Airlines in front of an international audience at T3( I and neither the 300 odd passangers did it with pride, I felt guilty and sad but we had no option)”
Miffed passengers posted videos on Facebook which showed passengers walking from one terminal to another. Watch the video here:
If this was not enough, the passengers were told that the flight had landed and were made to run across the airport. The passengers reached there only to find that the pilot had gone missing.
The passengers decided to take matters in their own hand from here on. Chitre said that passengers were told by Air India that they would be given open tickets, no endorsements and no hotel stay as “no other airlines do that.”
“This ridiculous explanation soaring the temperature further fueling our anger, then taking matter into our own hands we threatened to shut gates by forming human chains such that at least some person with authority would walk into the picture and help us,” Chitre wrote in his blog. Finally, after 8 hours of wait, the passengers got their flights against cancellations.
This is not the first time that Air India has made headlines because of poor customer service. Last month, a video went viral on the internet which showed a group of Air India officials steadfastly refusing to allow a group of pleading, crying passengers fly, because they were five minutes late to check in. One of the passengers had reportedly been travelling to meet her sick mother who was admitted in the ICU.
The officials, in the video, appeared totally nonchalant as the passengers were seen pleading, fighting and even crying. “Nothing is free boss. Once you’re late you will lose the ticket,” one Air India official said. The passengers reportedly reported for check in 55 minutes before their flight was scheduled to take off from Mumbai’s international terminal. According to the Air India website, check-in stops 60 minutes before an international flight.
Although recently the government-owned airlines proved that this kind of ‘rules are rules’ treatment was only meant for the regular passengers. In February, media reports said that an Air India flight from Delhi to Hyderabad, with a Union Minister and Supreme Court judge on board, was held up for 45 minutes after senior Congress leader Renuka Chowdhury did not turn up for boarding at the scheduled time as she was allegedly busy shopping.
“Last Friday, former Union Minister, and Congress Rajya Sabha MP Renuka Chowdhury was travelling to Hyderabad on Air India’s Chicago-Delhi-Hyderabad flight AI-126 which was scheduled to take off at 1900 hours. Chowdhury did not turn up on time despite repeated announcements of the final call by the airline staff. She finally turned up after scheduled departure time but not before the pilot had missed his turn in the departure sequence,” sources were quoted by PTI as saying. Chowdhury was allegedly delayed because she was shopping at the airport.
Since her baggage had already gone on the flight, it was not possible to retrieve it at the last minute, sources said adding, “Air India did not have an option but to wait for her.”
With inputs from PTI
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