Cochin International airport is really hi-tech and pleasant to visit. Normally, I do not visit the international terminal at Cochin since my travel is always a short one day affair returning the same day to mumbai after attending the fortnightly business meeting.
AI 691 turned out to be a hopping flight originating from dammam, saudi arabia. The flight was dammam-muscat-calicut-cochin routed and it terminated at mumbai. It was a wrong flight to be travelling by… in the first place and the company ticketing staff did not realise this while booking the ticket. Although it was scheduled to leave at 8.10 pm on 30 April from cochin, it had not even arrived at cochin till 10.15 pm. Finally, the flight departed at 11 pm and I was really upset and the ‘old lady’ air-hostess ( only AI employs such aged air-hostesses) was at the receiving end and tried hard to make me happy. First, she consoled me and said ‘sorry’ couple of times for flight being late etc. Initially, I was not at all empathic and clearly expressed my unhappiness over delay. But, after dinner and a cup of coffee, I did cool down and got into a casual discussion with her and started explaining how wrong I was in getting this hopping flight? In fact, she got me another cup of coffee and I complied! And…. the circling around in the sky waiting to get space on the run way to land…losing another 30 minutes! Ugh!
Air India is the first airline in India…. started by JRD Tata and was called Tata Airways before it got nationalised and for many years it was the Pride of the nation. But, monopolistic situation and nationalisation of the airline changed the work ethos altogether.There were no ‘set’ rules to abide by. There was unionism amongst the pilots and a gross mistake done in selecting aged air-hostesses. Service was thrown out of the window and casual approach of the in-flight crew buried the prospects of the ‘only’ airline in India. Jet Airways, Kingfisher, Damania, Go Air, Spice Jet and other private airlines buried AI for ever and Air India got itself in to deep red. An effort was done to merge it with profiteering Indian Airlines…which just resulted in getting Indian Airlines in to commercial failure.
Air India needs to change…there should be better selection procedures while selecting air-hostesses! They should get enthusiastic, pleasing mannered, active young employees filling the air-hostesses’ positions. There should be better planning at the top and effectiveness in policies and implementation should be enforced. Praful Patel, the flamboyant minister should spend more time in the work place than attending social meetings/ parties.
Otherwise, the airline may stop flying forever! And, I am stopping right away and would not get into another AI flight.