Aa Bail Mujhe Maar!

Each time an airline’s employees go on strike and flights are canceled, the newspapers are full of “horror” stories of people who have been stranded or who have had to reschedule, etc. It makes for news…but any sympathy towards these passengers is quite unwarranted.

When you have a choice, why would you fly Air India (AI) or Kingfisher (KF)?

Let’s start with KF first and get it out of the way. Perhaps many of us were really caught unawares on the first day that it started canceling flights. But thereafter? The very fact that KF is still around means that there are people still willing to fly with an airline that could cancel or reschedule at any moment. If people were to stop flying KF, the airline would automatically sink…clearly that’s not happening. If masochistic passengers are suddenly left in the lurch, they have only themselves and absolutely no one else to blame.

Seriously! Why would anyone want to fly an airline whose planes may just not take off?

Air India’s story is not as simple, so let’s start with my personal experience with AI.

I don’t have any.

I fly a lot, but I have never flown Air India international ever in my life and have never felt the need to. Ever since I started taking flights, there has never been a guarantee that someone in the company wouldn’t go on strike or cripple services. And with that sword hanging over one’s head and with the choice of another airline always available, it has never made sense to fly Air India.

I really don’t see why people fly that airline. Is it the service? Can’t be…I have heard both Jekyyllian and Hydian stories. The air-hostesses? Naah. The leg space? Perhaps. Prices? Doubt it. Companion flies free in business and first class (and no questions asked about who the companion is)? That, yes. Misplaced patriotism? Perhaps.

I have asked many of my friends who patronize the airline…why! And none has actually offered a convincing answer except for some who used to find the now defunct Mumbai-Chicago-Mumbai direct flight convenient, a few who have used the companion free offer successfully, others who have no choice because they work in Central Government institutes and a few living in the US who have flown AI out of some weird sepia-tinged nostalgia.

So I ask this question again. If there is no compelling reason to fly AI, if there are other better choices available, and if there is always a chance that the AI flight might not take off, why would any passenger want to fly this airline?

It has to be some kind of masochism.

It is amazing how people find carcasses pleasurable. This condition is also called necrophilia.

AI is in its death throes. The powers-that-be probably still see the airline through a haze of “national pride” (I don’t think anyone of us entertains these notions anymore) and have tried heroic measures to revive it, wasting large sums of taxpayers’ money in the bargain. But, when it’s time, it’s time and we should pull the plug and stop unnecessary, useless life support.

It is a good thing that the pilots have struck and started a cascade that is likely to end with multi-organ failure. The Maharaja should be euthanized, given a 21-gun salute, cremated and its ashes immersed in the Ganga.

KF of course can go the Devdas way and drown itself in an alcohol haze. We will shed a few tears for the end of the good times and then life can go on.

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