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Old 30th October 2013, 22:53   #46
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Default Re: Air France KLM ill-treats Indian passengers yet again

We will have to see how effective this kind of publicity is. Not sure what he expects from Air France going forward.

I do feel for him, as obviously he felt his family, himself and others did not get treated very well.

My own experience is that writing letters works if you can find the right tone.

Some years ago I booked my whole family on a trip from the UK to Barbados. For several reasons it was a pretty bad experience. The carrier in question was at the time launching a huge campaign on how they take care of their customers. How traveling with them was going to be a great experience etc.

I wrote to the CEO and the first page was all about me complementing him on the PR, the great advertisements and the fancy TV commercials. On the second page I started with:

"so this how you like to position your airline, now let me share with you some real life experiences." And I subsequently told him about our experience.

Within a week I got a phone call. Some lady, the personal assistant to Sir XXX and Sir XXX would like to have a word with me, would that be convenient? Of course it would, put Sir on!

So Sir XXX thanked my for my letter and expressed his regret and apologies for the inconvenience and offered me and my family an upgrade to first class the next time we were to travel to Barbados.

I was a bit puzzled why he actually phoned me. So I asked him:

"do you call every customer that writes to you?"

He sort of chuckled and said:

"In all honesty no. One of my staff showed me your letter because of the compliments and appreciation you gave us on our PR campaign. They probably, never read the second page, but I thought it was a very good reality check. So I felt compelled to reach out to you."

I thought that was a great answer!
My kids loved the first class to Barbados next year! Wrote him another letter thanking him for this wonderful experience.

Writing letters to right a wrong that is done to you requires a certain finesse. This gentlemen chose to go public. His choice.

I've had lots of success in similar situations by staying very polite and appealing to common sense and fairness, rather then taking the high rightness road or legal stand. I don't care so much about the principle as long as I get what I want. A recognition of the fact, but even more importantly a compensation of some sorts.

A few years ago, my wife was on a course in the USA. The day before she was was to return to the Netherlands her mother, who lives in Barbados was taken to hospital It was very serious, the doctor felt we should come immediately. So I rebooked my wife directly to Barbados. Only to realize the next day that we actually had a travel insurance that should cover this. When I called them, they told me I acted unilaterally and therefor there was nothing they could do for me now. Which, going by the policy was true. I should have called them first.

So I wrote to the CEO of the insurance company. I stated that I had no formal claim whatsoever, but that I was just appealing to his human nature. common sense, fairness and decency. When something like this happens to your mother in law), what is your response, are you going to check your insurance or buy a ticket on the first available flight?

They wrote back, acknowledging I had no grounds for a formal claim, but under the circumstances they would be happy to re-imburse us for all airline tickets as an act of compassion.

Each to its own, what route you want to take. Going public is likely to give you a big boost of feeling right, no sure it will always get you what you want.

Jeroen
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Old 30th October 2013, 23:00   #47
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If they are really serious I am sure they can all get together a have a class action suit filed in Europe against the airline. Plenty of lawyers will love to jump on that for a cut.
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Old 30th October 2013, 23:05   #48
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If they are really serious I am sure they can all get together a have a class action suit filed in Europe against the airline. Plenty of lawyers will love to jump on that for a cut.
I'm no lawyer but I have never heard of class action suits in Europe. Class actions suits are something very typical American.

In some European countries, consumer organizations can represent the interest of groups in court.

In many European countries, by law, lawyers are not allowed to take on cases on a percentage basis of the settlement either. It's on a fixed fee or hourly basis.

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Old 30th October 2013, 23:23   #49
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Default Re: Air France KLM ill-treats Indian passengers yet again

I too had a harrowing experience with KLM in 2001. Was flying from Delhi to Frankfurt via Amsterdam with a confirmed ticket.
The KLM flight had come to Delhi from Jakarta via Kolkata.

It was filled to capacity, that being a Sunday. At Delhi they were giving boarding passes to families and leaving out singles.
I was alone and was told to be ready for the alternative - a flight to Moscow and then to Amsterdam (Aeroflot) or an Emirates flight to Dubai and then Amsterdam/Frankfurt. This would have evidently taken more time.

I shouted at the check-in counter that I am going for a training and shall sue KLM for each single day lost in a competent court. I meant business.
They sensed my mood and I was handed over a boarding pass after about 10 minutes.

While returning, it was on the famous 9/11 day after (12th Sept 2001), that I had to travel back.
The return booking was by North West Airlines, a KLM group airline then. Frankfurt - Amsterdam flight was OK, but Amsterdam was like any Indian railway platform with stranded passengers. The difference was that they were in suits and ties waiting for the uncertainty to turn into certainty. Heathrow was shut down and most US airports were closed.

Luckily, I got an alternative ticket by North West Airlines to Mumbai and Air India from Mumbai to Delhi. This flight was coming from some US airport (forget the city). The flights to Delhi were cancelled as the Afghan airspace was considered unsafe by Western Airlines.

But the checked in baggage did not land and they sent it after two days with no compensation.

I too did not bother much for the late arrival of the baggage for the fact that by jostling through the crowd, I could at least get my ticket and did not have to get stranded at Amsterdam !

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Old 31st October 2013, 00:12   #50
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Originally Posted by Jeroen View Post
I'm no lawyer but I have never heard of class action suits in Europe. Class actions suits are something very typical American. In some European countries, consumer organizations can represent the interest of groups in court. In many European countries, by law, lawyers are not allowed to take on cases on a percentage basis of the settlement either. It's on a fixed fee or hourly basis. Jeroen
Apparently it has changed. A few lawsuits should straighten that out. However I doubt a collective effort is ever going to happen. http://m.us.wsj.com/articles/SB10001...13852?mobile=y

I found this when I googled. Looks like air France just hates everyone

https://m.facebook.com/airfrance/pos...53029997515526

Last edited by Raj1008 : 31st October 2013 at 00:18.
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Old 31st October 2013, 10:10   #51
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I read this yesterday here. It is all over FB now. Emails and conversations at my workplace too. This is good, let's ensure no one else does this to us or to anyone.
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Old 31st October 2013, 10:25   #52
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Originally Posted by Vivek.Martin View Post
I haven't flown AF, but I can state from experience that Lufthansa is the cheapest airline I've sat in. They are racist to the core and in your face! What is most shameful is that the Indians working for Lufthansa act more like Germans, with their condescending behavior and higher-than-thou attitude. I had a return ticket with Lufthansa on this particular trip and initially didn't want to fly back with them. However, I just put up with the cheapness and used my return ticket because I didn't want to donate them money. If you want to save your dignity, don't fly Lufthansa.

My experience with LH and my wife's experience with LH are absolutely,exactly and diametrically opposite to yours! Amazing, these inconsistencies in systems and processes.

In response to Jeroen's post, I agree with what he says. If one takes the direct, personal, polite and fair approach, it does tend to work better than the angry, public one.

To echo 999's post, I do agree that the Gulf based airlines and South East Asia based ones are generally far more service oriented. And it is absolutely true, like it or not, that we Indians are pretty horrid travellers who invariably flout Airline weight and hand baggage restrictions, behave badly, make a lot of noise, do not know how to treat service staff and are generally obnoxious creatures. Most irritating and demeaning in some sense, to be classified with the masses on account of the colour of one's skin, for bona fide, well planned travellers like some of us. Having said that, grace of god, my wife and I have not really been badly treated while travelling. However, British Airways, the baboons, have consistently lost her luggage when she has used them. I have only used them once and will never use them again if possible, because some of those people still appear to think that we are still their brown skinned slaves!
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Old 31st October 2013, 10:51   #53
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Default Re: Air France KLM ill-treats Indian passengers yet again

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Originally Posted by shankar.balan View Post
To echo 999's post, I do agree that the Gulf based airlines and South East Asia based ones are generally far more service oriented. And it is absolutely true, like it or not, that we Indians are pretty horrid travellers who invariably flout Airline weight and hand baggage restrictions, behave badly, make a lot of noise, do not know how to treat service staff and are generally obnoxious creatures. Most irritating and demeaning in some sense, to be classified with the masses on account of the colour of one's skin, for bona fide, well planned travellers like some of us. Having said that, grace of god, my wife and I have not really been badly treated while travelling. However, British Airways, the baboons, have consistently lost her luggage when she has used them. I have only used them once and will never use them again if possible, because some of those people still appear to think that we are still their brown skinned slaves!
Completely agree with you. Sadly, that's how we Indians behave outside. During my recent flight back from Doha to Bangalore, as soon as the flight landed, few folks just started collecting their bags. The flight was on taxi for a long time( as the flight was delayed due to heavy rains) and the air hostess was requesting all these folks to site down multiple times. She requested, shouted, pleaded. And as expected, none of those people cared about it.

Once in Singapore Airport, a old UK lady said the word - "Bloody Indians". Few Indians (all techie's) joined and told her that it was quite harsh to use that words. She apologized.

But I myself, feel like shouting - Bloody Indians - on seeing these kind of attitude that people show at times :(

Sorry for going

Last edited by sbala : 31st October 2013 at 11:01.
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Old 31st October 2013, 11:09   #54
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Default Re: Air France KLM ill-treats Indian passengers yet again

I think there is some mathematical model applied to 'Baggage Delay' song. I think since the weight directly manages the FE of a flight, balancing the weight by delaying and putting the baggage on other flights is a high possibility. What they save might be much more than what they have to compensate.
AF and BA are quite positively consistent with Baggage delays. I cannot believe that there is any issue in their system, I think there system is highly analytical.

On a side note, I happen to take Qatar Airways and was overwhelmed by their service. I have made it firm in my org that QA/Emirates/Etihad is the way to go.
If AF/BA are so unhappy/uncomfortable with the customers in India, so much that they cannot respect their revenue generators then its high time they should quit and operate only in white places.
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Old 31st October 2013, 11:43   #55
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On a recent trip to South Africa via South African airways, found the staff very curt in their welcome was initially taken aback but then realised that SA has now become a very popular holiday destination and flight was packed with people travelling in groups talking loudly, distributing snack packets even before rest of the passengers settled down, resembled travelling in a Bus/Train. Icing on the cake was when the mobile phone of one of the loud talking gent rang while the plane was taxiing for take off post switch off announce ment, the PA system gave a loud curt warning to switch off the phone and if you do not know how, remove the back panel and disconnect the battery.


Needless to say, remaining passengers applauded, but this is what causes the bias towards us and feels embarassing at times.

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Old 31st October 2013, 11:54   #56
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Default Re: Air France KLM ill-treats Indian passengers yet again

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Originally Posted by Jeroen View Post
We will have to see how effective this kind of publicity is. Not sure what he expects from Air France going forward.
I do feel for him, as obviously he felt his family, himself and others did not get treated very well.
...
...
Valid points there. A bit of polite and gentle approach helps in getting things done, rather than going on an attacking mode garnished with loads of sarcasm. In my opinion, here the guy managed to put his points in a way which could give him a personal satisfaction (and probably a bit of publicity), but maybe he reduced the chances of a positive outcome. The writing style was quite witty though

I have tried quite a few airlines, and so far have got subjected to any kind of rude or racist behavior. Couple of years back, my flight from HK to Singapore had to return back to HK (after an hour’s flight) due to technical trouble. We were made to sit in the flight for an hour while they were trying to fix the glitch, and after the unsuccessful attempts, they offloaded all the passengers and baggage from the flight. For a few hours there was utter chaos in the airport. What I was told is, once the flight is grounded and passengers are out, it’s the airport ground staff’s responsibility to work out alternate arrangements. Singapore airlines representative and the ground staff were trying to manage but the grounded flight was an A380, and hence the passenger volume was extremely high for them to manage. There was indeed preferential treatment for first/business class passengers which is quite understandable, and they were trying their best to accommodate me and my colleague in an alternate flight (my colleague was 6 months pregnant then), but it did not work out. We did here some level of shouting about racism, but the fact was they were clearing passengers with connecting flight from Singapore, and first/business class on priority. They managed to arrange accommodation in a hotel next (Marriot) to the airport for the night, with free buffet dinner and breakfast next morning. It was my daughter’s third b’day next day, and I got home only by noon next day. But when looking back, I feel they handled the situation very well. Apart from the accommodation, they also provided an option to choose the flight next day morning, a 100$ DFS shopping voucher, and also reimbursement on all phone calls made during the time we were stuck in HK.

From a behavior point of view, I found Singapore Airlines the best, followed by Thai. European carriers like SAS and Swiss were good as well. BA was strictly average and so was Qantas (even my Aussie friends cannot stand the behavior of Qantas staff). For me personally, one airline I would try to avoid at all means is Air India. The last trip done was probably 5-6 years back (to Chennai); service was bad, flight was badly maintained, and the flight wardens (or air-hostess) were extremely hostile to the passengers.
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Old 31st October 2013, 12:25   #57
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Slightly off topic, but here's my two cents from a slightly different perspective. not specific to this case, but more in general:

Obviously, racism can not be tolerated and must be stamped out! Period, no discussion.

At the same time we do need to acknowledge that people behave in a way which is appropiate in their own evironment and culture. And when they go on a plane with individuals from different backgrounds that might show, amuse and or irritate. It does go both ways, obviously.

(International) flying is part of my job. I've raked up zillions of airmiles. I fly internationally 10-15 times a year and I fly within India 2-4 times a week. So I've got a pretty good experience on how it works in Indian airports and on Indian local flights. Or large groups of Indians on long international flights.

No offense, but the way the average Indian behaves at the airport, boarding the plane, during the flight and during the disembarking is very similar to how I see everybody behave in Delhi traffic. It is everybody on it's own, everybody wants to get ahead of the next guy. Nobody looks after anybody, nobody takes a blind bit of notice of the instructions (e.g we will now board rows 25-35 only, please switch of your mobile phones). (Older) ladies struggling with getting their luggage in the overhead bins and not a single guy will help?

In quite a few different countries around the world, the above is considered to be plain rude and a lack of common manners. Not about right of wrong, but it is about very visible differences.

Consider this; In the US, Airlines board their 737 and Airbusses in under 10-12 minutes. Because they got a system, they make it known to their passengers and the passengers comply. It takes ages in India to board and disambark a little 737, because everybody wants in or out at the same time and no quarters are given! Its a struggle. Each man and woman on its own!

Being in a plane is one of those situation where all of sudden you find yourself locked up with total strangers. Difference in attitude, values, manners show up very quickly. Throw in some delays, people getting stressed and you have a recipe for tempers flaring up. It's not about right or wrong, its about difference and how people respond to that.

When different cultures with different customs, different valules meet, problems can arise. It's not about racism or about who is right or wrong, it is about what you tolerate and how you adapt yourself to those who come from a different background. Not everybody is very good at it. Lot of people want to stick to their own and the rest of the world is expected to tolerate and accept. I don't think that works.

I'm more a live and let live type of guy. I hope I haven't offended anybody. that was certainly not my intention. It's more about acknowledging that people from different walks of life, act and behave differently. And that can and often is the cause of friction. Whether that is racism, I'm not so sure. Could be, but not by definition.

Ask yourself this question, when you travel abroad to a different country with different customs, different values, how much do you adapt? Typically I would say, the bigger the group you travel in the less you will do. And the more the group is likely to irritate the others.

Jeroen

Last edited by Jeroen : 31st October 2013 at 12:28.
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Old 31st October 2013, 13:32   #58
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Originally Posted by shankar.balan View Post
My experience with LH and my wife's experience with LH are absolutely,exactly and diametrically opposite to yours! Amazing, these inconsistencies in systems and processes.

I agree. My BIL traveled on LH last month and said it was fine, though he did say there were racial overtones in their service. But for me, it's a case of once bitten twice shy.
Interestingly, I have flown Air India many times and found them to be very good, contrary to all popular opinion. All flights I was on departed and landed bang on time and the senior air-hostesses were very kind and courteous. Found it to be a friendly atmosphere with good entertainment available and the food was way better than some other international carriers. Goes to show we cannot generalize based on one man's experience.
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Old 31st October 2013, 15:34   #59
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Originally Posted by Jeroen View Post

Ask yourself this question, when you travel abroad to a different country with different customs, different values, how much do you adapt? Typically I would say, the bigger the group you travel in the less you will do. And the more the group is likely to irritate the others.

Jeroen
Having worked with a 5 star hotel chain based in India majority of visitors to India do not adapt either. I'm not saying we are any better than that. There have been instances of Indians misbehaving in India and abroad but I've seen the ugly side of visitors to this country too.

Part of the blame is with us. We treat foreigners as somewhat superior. We're still not out of the pre 1947 era. During my sister's engagement at a renowned hotel in Delhi (not the chain I work for) we had hotel guests treating the function as a photo op. It wasn't a cultural mela and there was a board outside clearly stating that this was a personal event yet these people almost came up to the dias to click pictures and some even had the audacity to go up to the bar. I had to blast the Banquet Manager and noticed his sheepish tone while requesting the guests to leave. As a hospitality professional I can say with full certainty no Indian guest would have been allowed to intrude a personal ceremony. In my industry you can be firm while being polite. He didn't do that.


Racist tones are ignored by hospitality professionals more so in India than anywhere. i can go on to state tens of cases but I'll end up digressing further from the topic.

I see nothing wrong with him raising this on a social media platform. If it was a service dissonance it would have made sense to reach out to the CEO and writing the mail in a manner to get a response or compensation.

However racism is a problem everywhere. The only issue I have with Mr Shah's blog post is that there's too much of a narrative involved before he gets down to the actual content. Plus personal digs at the CEO aren't helping either.

The only reason he's not getting a response in my opinion is because Air France by acknowledging the mail would end up in a corner where they admit to racism so they're being careful and stating technical issues in their response.

Also I would have done the same thing. Some of us believe the world is equal for everyone and no person who has self respect should pay for such an ordeal. I'd rather pay more and fly another airline. I've been fortunate enough to never fly Air France and British Airways ; they can come up with corny advertisements asking Indians abroad to visit their mothers but some one with an iota of self respect would wait a little longer, save a little more and then go see his mother however on another airline, where he's treated as equal.
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Old 31st October 2013, 17:25   #60
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Having worked with a 5 star hotel chain based in India majority of visitors to India do not adapt either. I'm not saying we are any better than that. There have been omewhat superior. We're still not out of the pre 1947 era. During my sister's engagement at a renowned hotel in Delhi (not the chain I work for) we had hotel guests treating the function as a photo op. It wasn't a cultural mela and there was a board the bar. I had to blast the Banquet Manager and been allowed to intrude a personal ceremony. In ing to the he's treated as equal.
I appreciate your post as an an ex Hospitality professional. I have worked with both of India's largest, best known 5 Star Deluxe Hotel Companies and can empathise completely with what you say!
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