Rajeesh is on a flight to Chandigarh from Bangalore, on an assignment. The assignment is to take my grandson, Aniket, five years in another 3 months (that is how they prefer their age), to Chandigarh and hand him over to his parents, Padmanabhan and Sandhya. Parents will travel from Kamand, Himachal Pradesh by road, a 6 hour drive to reach the airport before the Air Asia flight lands at 12:35. Rajeesh has to return the same day after the handing over, by Indigo flight at 2:30. Enough time for the change over.
To enable this operation within schedule, all the players have to be on time. Well it did not start that way. Due to fog, the Air Asia flight got delayed and delayed until it took off at 11:00 am, a one and half hour delay. The indigo flight, that has plans to pick Rajeesh from Chandigarh leaves Bangalore half an hour late. Both the flights are expected to land at Chandigarh within a difference of 5 minutes. What is worse that can happen ? Why are we creating a drama ? If he misses, cant he take the next day’s flight ?. Chandigarh airport works from 5 am to 4 pm everyday and is closed on Sundays and today is Saturday. Rajeesh has to attend office on Monday, urgent. Well, the impact is mainly financial and it can be treated as no big deal, if we want. In this situation, we are enacting a drama wondering about its ending.
Coming back to the drama, there are 3 scenes happening simultaneously, one in AirAsia, the others at Chandigarh airport and at home in Bangalore.
Inside AIrAsia, Rajeesh knows the flight is delayed and is wondering how he is going to make it to the return flight. Little Aniket is getting restless and keeps asking when are we reaching and Rajeesh in his anxiety is trying to keep Aniket entertained. He asks Aniket what is the time and Aniket says I have not taken my watch, a toy watch that got left behind in Bangalore. Don’t meddle with kids.
Scene in Bangalore, I had the flight tracking maps on for both the flights. I thought of web check in for Rajeesh in the Indigo flight, to save some time for him. The Indigo seat map showed the seats that has not been checked in, had an additional charge. At this point, I need to add a few observation about Indigos’s unethical way of sqeezing out a few extra buck from the passenger with confirmed tickets. A few months ago, when I tried to webcheck, travelling with my spouse, only the middle column seats were available, all the aisle and window seats were being charged extra. If indigo thought that they can make money by separating our coupling, they were mistaken, I went ahead and clicked two seats in separate locations, opening up opportunities to have some exciting co-passengers in the neighbouring seats. Finally, at the counter, the lady tells me with a smile handing over the boarding passes, that she has given adjacent seats, a big favour !
My brother in-law, Dr Gopalakrishnan, two weeks ago on his way to Kolkata, got charged for his check in luggage since zero checkin baggage in Indigo’s records whereas ticket from cleartrip clearly showed 15kg checkin. What he tried to checkin is the excess weight of cabin baggage of 1.5 kg. He paid for the check in baggage, finally after complaining he got the money refunded from clear trip after a week. Issue small, however agony, arguments, time, all very upsetting.
I did not do the check in for Rajeesh, called Sandhya at Chandigarh airport to do it at the counter.
Well, she tried and was told by the staff they cannot do it citing a policy that allowed web check-in only 24 hours before (their rules say 48 to 2 hours before the dep) and other excuses that didn’t sound logical. She also requested that they check with the higher management because surely there are provisions for emergencies but there was no initiative. It felt like she was dealing with babus of yesteryears. She then went to theAirAsia staff and they helped her in no time with the Web checkin. She came back to Indigo counter and told them how their competition helped her. When this was happening, I saw a report on that days Deccan Herald, news paper about the behaviour issues of Indigo airline staff, which I whatsapped to Sandhya.
They are the number one airlines, today, ranked 4th in punctuality and one we love. I hope the negative reports that is appearing in the press at regular intervals, do not lead to their downfall. They can work a little extra on training the staff in behavioural issues to prevent any disaster and at the same time improve on their ethics. This is the fundamental in any business, product or service, customer relation is the key to its success. If the employees are trained well and taken care, they will take care of your customers, whether they are from 2 tier cities or 3 tier (excuse for getting proper staff).
Back to the scene in AirAsia.
Just before landing he spoke to the AirAsia crew and told them about the predicament he is in to catch the Indigo flight back to Bangalore. They immediately responded by moving Rajeesh and Aniket to the front and ensured they will be the first to deplane. Once they were out of the plane, Rajeesh picked up Aniket on his shoulder and started running, and the AirAsia staff and the airport staff kept showing the way, even holding up a vehicle on the tarmac. AirAsia took charge of Anikets luggage at the conveyor and handed over to his parents, later.
He hands over the kid and collects his boarding pass with 10 minutes to spare andruns to the indigo departure gate after somehow whizzing through the security check, when the staff tells him, relax, the boarding has not started yet.