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Trip Jottings - DEL-ORD AI non-stop

 
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justbala
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2011 11:48 pm    Post subject: Trip Jottings - DEL-ORD AI non-stop Reply with quote

I guess its not in my luck to have a simple pre-planned trip go well!! Had to fly to Cleveland and NJ for coupla meetings and I had a carefully chalked out itinerary on LH which included what would have been my first ever flight on the whale jet . Plus the trip would have put me in the *G bracket. But lady luck can be as cruel as it gets!!

My passport had gone to the Chinese Embassy in Delhi and I was supposed to recieve it by Monday in Bangalore. But turns out it will be released from Delhi only on Tuesday and would reach Bangalore on Wednesday. Panic bells ringing at full volume as I needed to be in Cleveland by Wednesday afternoon!!

After spending an hour with my travel agent, the only workable itinerary was on AI's nonstop to ORD connecting to an AA flight to CLE. My company has a new policy which prevents us from using NYC as an entry point into the US. You know wht they say, when it rains...

OK so I landed in Delhi by an IT flight. Deposited my luggage at the left luggage facility at T3 (pretty good service - 24*7, charge per hour based on the weight of your bag.. you need to take the skywalk to the metro station and just follow the directions) and headed to the consulate on the Airport Metro express. Neat service and pretty fast. The only mess being if you want to connect to rest of the metro n/w at New Delhi station... brace for long queues with a horde of sweaty people, who insist on sticking to you in a queue and frequent lane cutting and jumping!!

Well braving all that Delhi had to offer, including the 45+ heat, i managed to collect my passport and headed to T3 for my flight.

The check in was via 5 counters, 2 ear marked for YYZ and rest for ORD, but the queue was common and moving along very slowly. Most passengers were elderly folks. Half an hour later the staff there had the brilliant idea to remove the common queue and divide it into 5 queues one for each counter. Chaos prevailed with people diving in all directions with cartloads of luggage!!

The check in staff was pretty rude. One of the supervisors was hell bent on insisting that an old couple physically dump 3 excess kilos of luggage in the waste bin, before they are checked in!! Have never seen this anywhere in the world before!!

I had done an online check in and after the entire process, the site had told me that there was an error in the data entered and to start over again!! When I went to the desk, the guy at the desk was at a loss on how to process my tkt, since I had already checked in. With very active help from a senior guy two counters away he finally managed to get my BP printed. i requested him to though check in my bags to CLE and that got him confused completely. Finally the senior guy had to physically come over and complete the request.

The a/c in operation was VT-ALL 773-ER (GOA). The Y class was almost 70% full. J around 50 and F looked empty.

Wht stood out most was how the Y class resembled a mobile flying geriartic ward!! Every row had atleast two elderly couples, most of them from Delhi/Punjab or AP/TN. There were exactly 2 westerners in the whole of the Y cabin and a handful of people below 50.

The crew consisted of the usual suspects - J was manned by 2 uncles (balding with a significant tummy) and 2 aunities (one from NE) . Not sure of folks further north in F. Y class had a mix of aunties/uncles and younger crew.

I had pretty low expectations from AI and the flight, but they still managed to find new lows!!

1) The IFE is a big joke!! 6 English movies, 1 German and abt 15 Hindi. No english short series. All this for a 16 hr long flight!!

2)The a/c went from filthy to filthier. the cabin crew made no attempt at maintaining a semblance of cleanliness. I have seen 9W crew pick up tissues, paper , napkin etc from aisles while they walk through. the AI crew just plained ignored it.

3)The toilets were disgusting!! No toilet seat covers, half the loo did not have cups and soap.Half way through the flight most loos were stained and marked with human excrement!!

4)Someone threw up near one of the loos (near the emergency exit) The crew did not even make an attempt at covering it, let alone cleaning it up!! I pity the people sitting around that area. Most looked like people from rural india and probably did not know that the crew needed to clean such stuff up!!

5)The crew never responded to the call button. I needed a pillow (turns my seat mate grabbed all 3 in my row) and I ahd to walk back to the galley to find one.

6)Food is usually one of the redeeming factors on Ai, but even that was disappointing - first meal consisted of a disgusting roll and a fruit salad that consisted of 5 slices of papaya and 1 teeny-tiny grape~~ Second course was a croissant and muffin (very oily). Did not even attempt the third round!! But my seat mate told me it was bad!!

7)Not exactly AI's fault, but the elderly couple sitting in the row behind had to frequently use the restroom and every time they got up, they used my seatback to support their entire body weight, waking me up every time!! Not sure if they understood hindi/english but every time i told them they would smile and next time promptly repeat the same!! this combined with a perpetually crying kid who was travelling with his grand parents two rows ahead made sure that I could not sleep much!! I was planning to sleep for atleat 10 hours - one of the advantages of a non-stop to US!! Sad

The only postive aspect of the entire journey was that the flight was on time and landed in ORD before time, but everything else was an utter disaster!!

Flying back on "The Non-stop" from JFK to DEL next week. Will post a TR on that. Hope that turns out better than the outward trip!!
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avbuff
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2011 12:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm out of words ... seriously disgusting. The least AI can do is give a decent offering on routes which make money for you.
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me111993
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2011 12:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nicely written! Thanks for posting. Pretty disgraceful from AI, I must admit, DEL-ORD is one of the handful of flights wherein they do well. They really shouldn't screw it up.
Hope your return flight is better!
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2011 8:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting jottings, Bala - though we missed a complete trip report from you! Apart from the on-time-performance, AI looks to have gone from bad to worse in terms of the service! The passengers too take a share of the blame for poor habits and being uncooperative.
This reminds me of a SIN-KUL-MAA-BOM AI flight, when the last two legs saw the aircraft in a completely pitiable condition from the inside. A crew member looked completely out of sorts, and told me that there was very little they could do if people treated the plane as a garbage dump. The food and the unresponsive crew part - are certainly not acceptable if the airline wants any change in image.
Cheers, Sumantra.
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Nimish
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2011 11:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think besides everything else, what really stood out for me was the shoddy ground handling! Just 5 counters for 2 wide body/ long haul flights? Were they expecting the flights to go empty? From what I recall at BLR - even SQ or TG have 4-5 Y counters for just one flight each - and with trained/ efficient staff at that. Not the mess that AI ground at it's "flagship" T3 terminal seems like Sad.

I witnessed something very similar on my recent DEL-BLR AI flight - the check in queues were horrendous and the staff totally clueless. One would think they would learn in a week or so, but either they rotate in "fresh blood" every week, or there's some other issue. The other issue was why does AI still persist with the ridiculous/ outdated notion of dedicating a check in counter to a particular flight? With the advances in technology they are able to use all counters for all flights, and they should just let the traffic flow to the counter with the shortest queue.

The rest of the trip sounds pretty sordid as well - quite different from some of the glowing AI Y reports we've had in the past. Not sure if this is just bad luck, or has AI's long haul service actually dropped so badly?
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Spiderguy252
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2011 11:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

AI is hopeless.
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abhigopal
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2011 1:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I believed that this flight was doing well for AI.! Sad to see your experience.

I had an amazing flight BLR - DEL on AI 505 morning 0930. Excellent food, pillows and blanket on demand, good IFE and more importantly, left on time
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yash777
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2011 1:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Absolutely disgusting. I am glad I haven't flown AI till now as they are overpriced anyway on intl sectors.

Quote:
Not exactly AI's fault, but the elderly couple sitting in the row behind had to frequently use the restroom and every time they got up, they used my seatback to support their entire body weight, waking me up every time!! Not sure if they understood hindi/english but every time i told them they would smile and next time promptly repeat the same!!


I seriously hate having senior citizens sitting next to me or around me. Unfortunately I've had a senior citizen sitting next to me everytime I have boarded a flight to the US who couldn't understand English or Hindi so I had to complete their immigration formalities. Crying or Very sad
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2011 2:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nimish wrote:
I think besides everything else, what really stood out for me was the shoddy ground handling!

The other issue was why does AI still persist with the ridiculous/ outdated notion of dedicating a check in counter to a particular flight?

Very valid points, Nimish. At EWR in 2005, I remember 10 Air India counters for AI 144 EWR-CDG-BOM-AMD. Yes, 10, for a 744-full load of passengers. The corresponding number of counters for AF or BA paled in comparison with this. I do not have a clue as to why AI should stick to one or two counters at DEL T3 of all places, for a particular flight. No, it is not that they cannot do this: I have seen this being done on domestic flights, at least. On a day of long lines, I was whisked to another counter (which showed a different destination), and I checked in without any ado, or hassles. Is this a management issue - a directive to have dedicated check-in counters for specific flights, the way it used to be in the olden paper-mediated days? So AI can do it, but they do not, unless extra-ordinary circumstances compel them to do so, such as extremely long queues. Just a few paces away, Jet do this. One can check into any Jet flight on any Jet counter (domestic, at least - I remember seeing a separate counter for an international flight). If DEL T3 is to be their main hub, AI should look into this seriously!
Cheers, Sumantra.
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ssbmat
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2011 11:44 pm    Post subject: Re: Trip Jottings - DEL-ORD AI non-stop Reply with quote

justbala wrote:

Wht stood out most was how the Y class resembled a mobile flying geriartic ward!! Every row had atleast two elderly couples, most of them from Delhi/Punjab or AP/TN. There were exactly 2 westerners in the whole of the Y cabin and a handful of people below 50.



I dont see how it really matters how many Westerners travel Air India or any other airline for that matter.

I guess thats just a general observation..Cant count it for or against an airline can you?
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PAL@YWG
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2011 11:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Not exactly AI's fault, but the elderly couple sitting in the row behind had to frequently use the restroom and every time they got up, they used my seatback to support their entire body weight, waking me up every time!! Not sure if they understood hindi/english but every time i told them they would smile and next time promptly repeat the same!!


Priceless!
I think most of us experienced similar incidents in a flight where the crowd is overwhelmingly desi. In one such flight, I was asked to fill in the immigration forms by an older couple (sitting behind me) before landing at DEL. When the forms were distributed, they just casually tapped my back and passed on the forms (as if my ticket price included the service). Passports were Italian and they had hard time signing their names! The man told me they are farmers in Italy.
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ryder1650
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2011 2:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Are you guys really sure that AI is doing well on this route? Seems like it was mostly tourists/vacationers this time. Was this flight an outlier or is AI having trouble filling up F and J?
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himmat01
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2011 2:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shockingly disgusting level of inflight service. I am surprised that the IFE does not include programs in Indian languages other than Hindi.

As for the ground service, after the transfer of of this function to AISATS, the service levels have declined as these young boys and girls have absolutely no knowledge about their jobs. Any non-routine thing leaves them totally clueless.
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justbala
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2011 7:31 pm    Post subject: Re: Trip Jottings - DEL-ORD AI non-stop Reply with quote

The flight was a complete disappointment. The passenger composition was majorly VFR, so not really sure how good the margins are.


ssbmat wrote:
justbala wrote:

Wht stood out most was how the Y class resembled a mobile flying geriartic ward!! Every row had atleast two elderly couples, most of them from Delhi/Punjab or AP/TN. There were exactly 2 westerners in the whole of the Y cabin and a handful of people below 50.



I dont see how it really matters how many Westerners travel Air India or any other airline for that matter.

I guess thats just a general observation..Cant count it for or against an airline can you?


It does indicate the airline's catchment area. Its like the EK flights to US filled with pax from the sub-continent - says a lot abt the airline. By the looks of it AI's pax segment is still limited to Indians. things could change once they join *A. 9W on the other hand attracts a lot of non-Indian customers.

And please keep the xenophobia under control!!
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Spiderguy252
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2011 9:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So in essence, these new non-stops are turning out to be scarier horror stories than the milk runs of yore, when the aircraft was serviced at the very least, before it resumed it's journey to it's next stop 200 kilometres away.
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jasepl
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2011 7:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Plus ša change.

I suppose that's the way it's going to be with Air India, until it is put down.
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Jaysit
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 05, 2011 2:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, on the plus side, at least the legroom on those AI 777s is great at 34".

Looks like the rest of the product has turned into garbage from the check-in process to the inflight product.

However, from what I hear, elderly Indians still prefer AI over the competition because of same plane service, older Indian cabin crew who have plenty of experience taking care of such passengers, and, of course, price.
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iah87
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 04, 2011 8:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My brother took this trip a few months ago on ORD-HYD-ORD, the IFE did not work the entire leg of ORD-DEL portion and he was in J. But he said that the food was great and the service was quite nice, however the J class was only half full.

With AI you are never sure what you are going to get.
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texdravid
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2011 8:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's just amazing and bewildering that in 2011 there are some on these boards who are actually surprised that a flight on Air India could be so bad.

Really people?

Are your "patriotic" minds so warped that you guys are actually surprised at the sheer incompetence and mind numbing idiocy of Air India?

This story could have been written, sans IFE and other modern conveniences, in the 1970's, 80's and 90's. Nothing changes on Air India.

Whether it is a young Texdravid who experienced this nonsense on an AI 742 in 1979 JFK-LHR-BOM or a young adult Texdravid seeing this in the mid 90's with an AI 744, nothing changes. Nothing!

It is high time that this montrosity ends, and ends now. Sell every lock, stock, and barrel of this incompetent, evil airline. Kick every slobbering babu who has a hand in this buffoonery. Let the professionals, that is the foreign airlines, rule the Indian airways.
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 9:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

sumantra wrote:
Nimish wrote:
I think besides everything else, what really stood out for me was the shoddy ground handling!

The other issue was why does AI still persist with the ridiculous/ outdated notion of dedicating a check in counter to a particular flight?

Very valid points, Nimish. At EWR in 2005, I remember 10 Air India counters for AI 144 EWR-CDG-BOM-AMD. Yes, 10, for a 744-full load of passengers. The corresponding number of counters for AF or BA paled in comparison with this. I do not have a clue as to why AI should stick to one or two counters at DEL T3 of all places, for a particular flight. No, it is not that they cannot do this: I have seen this being done on domestic flights, at least. On a day of long lines, I was whisked to another counter (which showed a different destination), and I checked in without any ado, or hassles. Is this a management issue - a directive to have dedicated check-in counters for specific flights, the way it used to be in the olden paper-mediated days? So AI can do it, but they do not, unless extra-ordinary circumstances compel them to do so, such as extremely long queues. Just a few paces away, Jet do this. One can check into any Jet flight on any Jet counter (domestic, at least - I remember seeing a separate counter for an international flight). If DEL T3 is to be their main hub, AI should look into this seriously!
Cheers, Sumantra.

Apologies - a huge quote (including a self-quote, to rub it in!), but I liked what I saw at IGI T3 on 04 Aug 2011 - no dedicated check-in counters (save one domestic, I wonder why, and two international ones). Loads were evenly distributed across the very large number of counters that Air India has all over (there were a large number of check-in staff - I do not think any counter was empty), and things were being done very efficiently. This is how it should be, and I am glad that Air India have implemented this well.
Cheers, Sumantra.
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Nimish
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 10:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

sumantra wrote:

Apologies - a huge quote (including a self-quote, to rub it in!), but I liked what I saw at IGI T3 on 04 Aug 2011 - no dedicated check-in counters (save one domestic, I wonder why, and two international ones). Loads were evenly distributed across the very large number of counters that Air India has all over (there were a large number of check-in staff - I do not think any counter was empty), and things were being done very efficiently. This is how it should be, and I am glad that Air India have implemented this well.
Cheers, Sumantra.


Phew - what a relief - hope this stays!
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 20, 2011 4:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Saturday August 20, 2011. 4am. The Air India destination-based counters are on again. However, given the very few flights at this time, and the sparse crowd all around IGI T3, this is definitely not a problem. I wonder if the destination-specific check-in comes in when there are very few flights around, and the generic check-in comes in at busy hours. Anyway, this is still acceptable, I guess.
Cheers, Sumantra.
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Nimish
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 20, 2011 7:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What is not acceptable is the lack of a clear process. I've rarely seen other airlines switching the types of counters based on the time of day! If flexible counters work during peak hours, they should work even better during off peak hours.
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 20, 2011 5:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Aye, aye, Sir!
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jasepl
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2011 9:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nimish wrote:
What is not acceptable is the lack of a clear process. I've rarely seen other airlines switching the types of counters based on the time of day! If flexible counters work during peak hours, they should work even better during off peak hours.

Nimish, Air India and consistency? For that matter, India and consistency? Surely we all know better by now!
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stealthpilot
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2011 2:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For me the most important things on a long flight are IFE, cleanliness and food.
Yikes!!!
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