Want service? Don’t fly Air India

London resident Vijay Rana has created Air India Story, a blog that records howAirindia
Air India treats its passengers. Dozens of people have already posted their stories, mostly complaining about canceled flights, long delays, poor service and rudeness.

I once traveled by Air India (for the first
and last time), from Singapore to Chennai. There was a Singaporean
Indian beside me. … He asked for a beer from the air-hostess. She
took awfully long to arrive, but to my surprise she had two cans instead
of one. The man asked why, to which she replied, "You will ask for
another can anyways, so just have it." [Link]

After reading this story, thousands of men vowed not to fly any other airline. Two beers instead of one! That should be AI’s slogan.

I have had varied experiences. On one occasion, I had a very efficient and
courteous flight attendant. On another, I was cold and asked for a
blanket. The attendant said they weren’t given sufficient blankets
(because it is a "temperature controlled flight"), but she tried to
help me by "stealing" one from a passenger who was sleeping. He
actually woke up and snatched it back from her — good for him. I don’t
remember if I finally got one or not, but it sure was amusing. [Link]

Amusing for you, but probably not for the other guy. If you ever fly AI, make sure you take your own blanket and some sort of anti-theft device.

In 2000, a friend of mine traveled from the
United States to India on an Air India flight whose final destination
was Bangalore. … This
flight, which was through LHR, did not serve any meals at all in the
economy class. They stated that the caterer
failed to upload food. [Link]

No food on a flight from the U.S. to India? I’d be walking down the aisle asking passengers, "Did anyone bring a pot in their carry-on baggage? That flight attendant looks really delectable."

Three years back, my two kids and I boarded the Air
India flight from Trivandrum to Dubai. You must understand the effort a
father takes on a trip with small kids and the pain of feeding them
food and water. When the male attendant started serving coffee/tea
after lunch, I politely asked him not to give it to me then, and I
would ask later, because I was feeding my younger one. The man replied: "If you want it, take it. I don’t have time to serve you later." [Link]

What he should have said was: "You’d better take your tea now, sir. We might run out of hot water."

Last year in November I traveled to New York with my sister on
an Air India flight from London. The flight wasn’t full but still by
some miracle they managed to run out of vegetarian food halfway through
the flight. Though I am a non-vegetarian, a family sitting behind us
were caught in an uneasy situation as they neither ate fish nor meat.
Though we swapped our meals with them, there were still a good 20
people who chose not to eat anything. [Link]

An Indian airline running out of vegetarian food is like an Irish airline running out of whiskey. I’m amazed the passengers sat quietly and didn’t storm the cockpit. It must have been a good movie.

In May 2005, all set for my first international flight, I excitedly boarded an AI flight from IGI Airport flying to Singapore. … It was an old aircraft,
at least 10 years old. As the plane went down the runway, it started
shaking and one could smell ATF inside the plane, which was an awful
experience, considering my first international flight. The drop-down TV screens were not working, just hanging there. Some snacks were served
soon after, and I asked the air-hostess for a drink. Rudely she replied,
"First you finish this, then after dinner I’ll serve you your drinks." [Link]

Don’t blame the flight attendant. When she was trained, she was told to "treat your passengers the way you’d want your children to be treated."

Excerpts were edited slightly for clarity.
Photo by Premshree Pillai

If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through Amazon.com and McNallyRobinson.com You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.

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