The This and That of Air Travel

Much has changed in the two years since I last wrote about this. What hasn’t changed though is our expectation as travellers; seamless online ticketing, pain-free web checkin, fast movement of lines at the airport desks, quick, efficient and polite security checks and easy entry into and exit from the airports.

And so, a few thoughts and observations! Like the blue and yellow airline that used to have the best on time performance and customer service in the past is perhaps today among the worst.

Like Indigo has the best on time schedules. If your travel is mission critical, it is best to fly this airline.

Like Go Air is the only airline where you can book a business class seat for another Rs. 2000 and in the major metros, if there is no aero-bridge, a private vehicle takes you to or brings you from the aircraft.

Like Air India continues to be what it is. It neither surprises, nor does it get any worse. Like if you book a JetKonnect flight though the main Jet Airways website, you can’t web checkin. To do so, you have to call customer service, get a new PNR and then go back and web checkin. This has to be the dumbest protocol possible.

Like SpiceJet has this weird option where by paying a little more you can ask for the seat next to you to be kept empty. It has never worked for me, I guess because in a full flight, what you pay to have an empty seat next to you is far less than what a passenger would pay to occupy the seat; but it is an interesting option and I am waiting for the day this actually happens.

Like Indigo has the best meals on board of any airline, including the stuff served in business class on Jet Airways or Air India.

Like the Indigo stewardesses are the best groomed of the lot. Period!

Like it is funny that though the in-flight announcements still ask us to switch off all electronic equipment while taking off and landing, after many of the US airlines lifted this requirement a few weeks ago, the in-flight crew has also stopped being anal about this and most of the times doesn’t care any more if you continue to use your iPAD or laptop.

Like Mumbai airport is really, really quiet now that no loudspeaker announcements are being made. And by the same token, Delhi airport is really, really loud with announcements constantly hammering away at our skulls.

Like Chennai airport is the worst when it comes to security lines. It takes forever to get through, there is complete chaos and though I could be wrong, I believe this is because the x-ray screening tables are just too short.

Like getting in and out of Mumbai airport during rush hour continues to be a nightmare.

Like Cleartrip has an excellent app for checking flight routes along with one swipe booking. Unfortunately, it does not allow us to select extras (first row seat, food, etc.), which pretty much defeats the purpose. So I use the app to check schedules and then go back to the airline websites to book tickets.

And lastly, I fail to understand why the vast majority of flyers are willing to stand in long queues for their boarding passes and don’t use the web checkin option. For those who take those extra 5 minutes to checkin online, there is usually a separate much shorter lane for checking bags in as well.

Anything else I’ve missed?

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