Just curious #7 – what frills?

boardingTalking about swadeshi airlines, what exactly is service, and what are the so called “frills”?

An airline that takes pride in its all-business class service did pamper me on their 30 minute flights. Despite being rushed through it, I liked the glass of fruit juice, and half-lunch meal they served with lots of smile and grace. But, they were over 90 minutes late 2 out of 3 times I tried them. Whats worst, the expected time of departure moved out 10 minutes with each announcement.

As far as punctuality goes, I love the attempts they all make at passing the buck. “This delay is due to the late arrival of incoming aircraft” – that one is a classic, isn’t it. Who exactly operates that incoming aircraft of yours? “Congestion at XYZ airport” – oh yeah!? How about asking AAI for compensation? How about redoing schedules if you can’t keep them?

Instead of this focus on food, entertainment, (tight miniskirts if I may add :-) ) and cronies to help carry luggage, I would any day prefer:

  • Timely and accurate updates on expected time of departure.
  • Before that, how about on-time departures as well.
  • Organized boarding (mom with infants first, rear passengers next and so on). Is this a must-have or a ‘frill’?

Don’t you think there is a sweet-spot somewhere between Jet/Kingfisher and Air-Deccan? Check me in as long as I show up 30 minutes before departure. Some semblance of order when boarding the buses and planes. Sell me stuff to eat on the plane. No unexplained last minute cancellations, and please take me home on time. Thats it.

Indigo and Spicejet seem to be trying, and I wish them success.

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5 Responses

  1. I used to think the same before talking to my cousin who is a pilot with the Indian airforce.
    Though defence airlines operate differently as compared to domestic airlines, my question to him was “why can’t they plan and schedule before? they anyway know the traffic?”.
    His answer : “very simple, air conditions are simply not in their control, one thick cloud and there can be a delay of 5 to 10 mins, Also once they reach the destination, if they don’t find a free runway to land (runway choice again depends on the size and direction of the plane) they can’t simply stand there and wait.. plane will come crashing down.. ;-) so they have to go in circles.. and each circle depending on the city air space may take anywhere between 10 and 30 minutes”
    so one word for better planning and management of airlines “COMPLEX” :)

    But, having said that, there is still LOTS of improvement needed in our swadeshi airlines.. apart from weather conditions (which is anyway not in our control), it is said that these airlines operate almost with no planning! So such delays even when the weather is fantastic is to be expected :(

  2. There was an article in the papers abt this too…apparently, some airlines like air sahara refuse to allow physically disabled popele to board the flight, although it is perfectly allowed, under the law. I don;t know why we have so much delays.

  3. Shark, agreed. There are some things beyond your control. Weather of course, and like this case one day when they shut Bangalore Airport for 50 minutes because Indian Air Force was planning some exercise. This caused about 1-2 hr delays to all noon time flights. I asked around and found out that due to sensitivity of these things, IAF can’t disclose their plans ahead of time. No problems, fair enough, and we all live with the fact that HAL is shared b/w IAF and AAI.

    But there are flights I routinely take which are always about 45 minutes late. Each time matlab each time. Reason – late arrival of aircraft due to congestion at some other airport. No weather, no Air Force exercises. If you hit into congestion everyday, please alter your schedule. And someone has to start paying for the delays, because, only when money enters the game, people get serious about the problem.

    The way I see it, the classic Indian nicety called ‘tolerance’ is being used really well by all concerned. A two hour delay may not be much, but when it involves a 30 or 70 minute flight, it is a lot. Period.

    Lakshmi I don’t know if that is true. Can’t blame one airline on that count, you may have heard about one-off instances. I have seen disabled and old people being helped (wheel chair) on almost every airline.

  4. Late arrival of inbound aircraft may sound funny but in the domestic situation its quite common and easy to explain… If you look at any of the carriers, most of the time they finish the boarding procedure and close the doors on time… However, during the peak periods, they have to stand in line behind some 10-15 aircraft to take off, further delayed by other aircraft landing at the same time… Its the same story while landing – They have to queue behind some 10-15 aircraft… Causing an overall delay of say about an hour…

    Since most of our domestic flights land and take off within an hour or so, this delay cascades through the day (not like international operations where an aircraft lands in say Singapore and it has a 2-3 hour break before it moves to its next destination)… Also a lot of our domestic carriers are stretching their fleets so they dont have backup aircraft when one goes down! Most international carriers have one aircraft just to serve as backup at any point…

    Unfortunately, airlines cant reschedule their flights to operate during off peak hours – For exactly that reason that they’re off peak commercially and not preferred by business travellers. During the off peak hours the aircraft is sent to off peak destinations…

    Solution? Some airlines are altering their schedules in that they put in this buffer in the arrival time… But otherwise, we just have to wait for our airports to be upgraded…

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