I remember the first time I aspired to sit in the aeroplane. Coming from a middle class family, it used to be a big thing back then and infact it still does: Mode of travel! For a middle class family, travelling by air is the ultimate form of luxury. I remember I used to stand at the terrace of my building, watching and waving at the planes passing by, thinking… “One day, I will be sitting inside the plane and someone down there will be waving at me”.
Why is flying most sought after mode of travel?
Superman can fly! When you are sitting in an aeroplane, somewhere deep down in your heart, there is a kid who feels like a Superman.
Then, there is price tag attached to it. As they say, nothing comes for free or there are no free lunches. The more expensive the way of living, the more is your stature these days. I am sure you must have felt a sense of pride while telling people “Flight se ja raha hu!”
Then, there is a feeling of being served by Air Hostess! Believe it or not, people like to pack few munches when they travel by train/road. But when you are flying, you don’t need to do that, “I will be served up there”, you think…
Over the period of time, one can conclude: This is the mode of travel which is fastest and fits the need of the hour.
The need of the hour, today!
Now that I have flown ‘n’ number of times, be it my first flight when I was going for my higher studies in the US or the recent one where I was returning to Mumbai from my hometown, I know what I want when it comes to planning my travel.
“Time is Money!”. In today’s world, where everything is so tightly scheduled, you want to save even a microsecond. My case is no different. Whether I am going back home for festivals, travelling for business meetings or going on vacation with family, I want to spend more time at the destination instead of trying to get there.
I have somehow induced this behaviour in my family as well. Whenever my parents are planning their vacation, looking at the flights schedule is the first thing on their minds.
And the problem is…
When everything looks so great, problems are around the corner! Even roses have thorns!!!
When you are using a service, be it any service, the bare minimum you would expect is better customer service. Remember the first thing our parents taught us: Manners! It’s common courtesy to talk to one another nicely. So, to expect that, when you are paying to avail any service is no brainer. Especially, when you are travelling via air! Think about it… When you are not a frequent flyer, there is already a fear of going to the airport because of the following reasons:
- Police checking at the gate. “Have I carried my ID?”
- Is it past 40 minutes, otherwise counters will close.
- I may be carrying more luggage.
- Security check-ins.
- And much more…
In a perfect world, travelling would be so easy. Depending on your requirements you book your travel tickets. Have fun while travelling. Enjoy your stay at the destination. Come back happily.
All that glitters is not gold!
In my experience, some of the airlines are the worst when it comes to customer service. One such occasion was when my family was going back home from Mumbai to Indore via Indigo Airlines!
Booking on Indigo Airlines!
One day makes a lots of difference when we are talking about family reunions. Be it coming a day earlier or departing a day later by avoiding the train journey and preferring flight. Of course, comfort is the biggest factor but those last few hours before you come out of vacation mode bring in calmness.
We were rejoicing those moments a night before my parents were about to leave. “Kal subah nashta karte hue seedhe airport ke liye nikal chalenge”, I told my mom. To which, mom gave a typical “mom’s” response, “late na ho jaye?!”.
After a typical evening we all slept, unaware of the troubles we were going to face the next morning…
The pre-airport journey
Well I have to admit, moms are always right! We were a little late to leave the house. By the time we left, there was only enough time left to reach the airport. We had to skip the breakfast which we had planned on our way to airport. Mumbai’s traffic on a weekday doesn’t need any introduction. We were stuck at multiple places and thought we will not be able to make it on time. Everybody in the car had their own doubts. I was constantly (secretly) looking at Google Maps to get an estimate of the remaining time.
All I wanted was to reach airport 40 minutes prior to departure. I had made a plan in my head already. Once we will reach the airport, I will tell papa-mummy to leave the luggage in the car and just rush to the counter to get their boarding passes. The reason they close the counter 40 minutes prior to departure is: according to me, the airlines want to transfer the checked-in luggage in the aircraft. “What if a person doesn’t have any luggage?”, I thought. Once he gets the boarding pass, he can quickly go through security checks and wait near the gate. Ready for take-off! Easy, isn’t it? Well… in the perfect world, yes! That day, NO!
Experience at the airport
We skipped the good bye ceremonies of hugging and kissing at the airport. Believe it or not, it’s a big deal in India! I was hoping that the Airlines will be decent enough to accommodate a small request from senior citizens and help them to board the flight safely. To my dismay, they didn’t even talk to them nicely, made them wander at the airport for 20-25 minutes (you know… the usual, it’s like passing the parcel game where my parents were the passing pillow. One executive was passing them to another then to another and so on…). After wasting almost half an hour, my parents got the classic reply: “Sir, boarding chalu ho gayi hai. Hum kuch nahi kar sakte!” Frustrated that they were, they called me and narrated this incident. I asked them to come out of the airport as I was still there (knowing something like this was about to happen).
Why is it so hard for people to accept their mistakes? “I know we were late by 5 minutes but that is the reason I told my parents not to carry their luggage”, I told the executive, as soon as I reached the Indigo counter. All they were looking for was some help from the ground staff and be on their way to Indore. “Was it such a big deal to ask for?”, I asked furiously. “Sir, we can’t do anything about it. We can reschedule the flight to later in the afternoon. The difference would be Rs.10,000. Would you like to pay by cash or credit card”, was their automated reply (It looked like I am looking at a robot not a human in front of me).
“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
Indifference is one quality when used wisely can help you get over the most difficult time of your life, but, if one is being indifferent to others at inappropriate situations, then it can be equally destructive and disturbing! The indifference shown by the Indigo staff was so infuriating that I lost my temper and demanded for higher airport authorities to intervene. “If you are not able to help and are going to repeat the same sentence over and over again, I would like to speak to your supervisor”, I told the robot sitting behind the counter.
I was not going to pay 10 grands for rescheduling. Anyway, it was not about money. I wanted them to agree to the fact that they should have helped my parents and understood the agony they went through. “They would have reached Indore by now and would have been sipping their tea if airline staff was a little more helpful and sensitive”, I told the Airport Manager for Indigo airlines after speaking to 3 other people reporting to him. Fuming, by now, I was ready to give them another piece of my mind. But, this person did something which took everyone by surprise. “Inki tickets reschedule kar do”, he told the robot. I had a sigh of relief! I was laughing and was furious at the same time. Happy because it was all sorted, my parents flight tickets have been rescheduled! Furious because it turned out to be so “simple”. All it took was arguing with airport authorities for 2 hours post which the manager comes and say: “Inki tickets reschedule kar do!”
What happened after that?
I saw at least 10 other passengers arguing with the airline staff and thought… “What is wrong in accepting that it was our mistake?”, be it the airlines or the passengers. Passengers, are always running late and they want to hold airlines responsible for everything. On the other hand, airlines will never let go of any opportunity to make more money. I did speak to the airport manager at Indigo Airlines and explained the pity of the passengers. I heard him as well and tried to understand the perspective of airlines.
One thing which is hard to understand till date is why are people not behaving as humans when it comes to customer service? Why do they have a point to prove? 99% of problems in this world can be sorted by talking politely but why are we always stuck in the other 1%?
I love Indigo airlines. They are affordable, are always on time as compared to others. I was using their services, still using it and will continue to use it. I just wanted to share my experience with other passengers and airline staff. One small change is enough to make a good experience a wonderful one!