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View Poll Results: Have the service levels improved since Tata took over?
Yes 127 45.68%
No 151 54.32%
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Old 11th June 2024, 10:46   #226
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re: Your review of Air India | 2 years since Tata took over

After taking 4 international flights in the recent past in budget (read cheap) airlines we have decided to pay a premium and travel with a better airline in the future without fail. It is one hell of an experience travelling long distance with these (include all out of India as of now). It feels as if they are doing a favour to us even after taking money for the same from our side. I will dare not travel by Air India to international distances, domestic is still ok as they are never my first priority as of now.
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Old 11th June 2024, 11:32   #227
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re: Your review of Air India | 2 years since Tata took over

Quote:
Originally Posted by SchnelleKurven View Post
I feel for the crew of Vistara followed by that of Air India.
Being a frequent-ish traveller, I feel sorry for Vistara. For me it has been the best domestic airline operating out of India at the moment - clean aircraft, crew, and the overall experience. Vistara filled the void that Jet Airways had left. I sometimes postpone my trip by a few days if Vistara doesn't fly on that particular date. I wonder what's going to happen now.
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Old 11th June 2024, 15:55   #228
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re: Your review of Air India | 2 years since Tata took over

I had so many details and experiences that I wished to share on an empty day, and I found this page. The best part—my experience with Vistara and Air India recently sees me as the right fit for this post, considering the recent transition offered.

Vistara review - I have been a Vistara Gold member since 2019, and ironically, it's not my most travelled airline for all domestic or international routes.
The goods-
1. It is the only flagship carrier you can fly if you want to, so it is not an inherent Vistara advantage, more like the only choice. AI in domestic is not worth flying as flagship (PE or business for 350s doing test flights in the last few months).

2. Again, this is the only loyalty program that exists to help elevate the experience with concerns such as extra baggage, priority boarding, seat selection, etc.

3. I can't think of anything more that makes them exclusive as a flagship carrier compared to the average flagship carriers of other nations (not even compared to the global top 20! ).

The Bads-

1. The loyalty program is a joke. I have seen them lowkey remove benefits from their program over the years, keeping most of the stuff to only platinum members. Their platinum privileges are mostly equal to the Gold tier of other airlines, and even then, the award category seats are always booked. Not everyone, and every time, can plan a domestic holiday six months in advance, and I have seen even a month or two before most of the sectors are booked. I have wasted three business class seats as I couldn't redeem them.

2. Biasness towards own loyalty program- Funny enough, if you book a transatlantic flight and are a status holder in a codeshare airline(say Star Alliance) that provides a connection from Vistara, you will quickly get seat availability on those even in the award category! For example, you book NY to BOM via DEL, and DEL to BOM will be Vistara. If you booked the business category (miles or voucher), you would find seats available on the same booking date on the other airline(or StarAlliance) portal. In contrast, if you enquire about the same DEL BOM route independently via Vistara for an award seat, despite being a gold member, it won't be. They reserve seats as a priority for codeshare airlines over their loyalty program.

3. Untrained staff at counters - After so many years of service, one out of two check-ins is not so smooth if you consider a priority check-in at even prominent counters such as DEL. Most of the tier-2 airports have third-party hires, and one can't expect them (though they Should!) to hold status benefits for their program members; they primarily serve and treat like Indigo on those routes, considering the staff does freelance or consultant duty for all airline, not worthy of a flagship carrier in their home turf.

4. In-flight Experience- Most of their excellent and experienced staff (I know and befriended a few faces in early-frequent Flying) have now been shifted to international routes only (Europe mainly); I'm happy for them! But what's left behind is Nothing in line with the previous gen, when it should have been one up considering how competitive and fast-scaled the aviation industry is. I had many unprofessional experiences; even though I haven't argued with the inflight crew in years, it is not because they were good but because I was tired of having one, knowing it would not make a dent in their consciousness to do better next time.

5. Depleting 320s - Barring a few 321neos and 787 exclusives for international routes, domestic 320s are a depleting fleet with no plan or effort to give minor updates, even though the tickets are always priced on the top shelf. It seems like milking business travellers because they can! And I could buy them too, but I'm a sucker for VFM even when I'm shelling from the corporate purse. Hence, there has been a recent decline in my Flying from my loyalty program.
The same goes for their neighbouring INTL routes. Flights to some Middle East and SE Asia destinations are priced higher than even AI and sometimes in line with the world's best carriers, which is tough to digest.


AIR INDIA

My experience with AI is not as vast and extensive as some of the Boomers and GenX who flew the airline at its peak, with 747s glorifying the skies. But I believe the airline got more loyalty than it deserves. Had the loyal members left the nostalgia and left the airline a long time ago aptly, maybe the reincarnation would have happened a decade ago (personal opinion).

My first experiences in recent times were Nothing to write home about. They were the least preferable option when I started frequently flying, and they did not help me enrol in the loyalty program. I avoided booking AI unless it was the only option. Even then, for a few flights, I faced 8-11 hours of delay in tier-2 airports for domestic routes! It was not a one-off event.

AI-TATA—Like everyone, I have high hopes for this merger now that I know Vistara will no longer be an option. I'll not miss them, but I don't have any more options. AI is the ONLY flagship Indian carrier. But I am treading slowly to prefer AI recently.
I flew the new A350 twice on its domestic route (DEL-BOM). My comments on the aircraft are below. For those confused about why long-haul flights haven't started, the airline crew and the aircraft need to fly certain hours before they fly long hauls to get acquainted. Taking baby steps is better than being a disaster afresh. I hope to fly soon on the 350s in the US/Canada routes. Ironically, I use my Aeroplan FF status to gain points on AI flights till date, I'm planning to get my Flying returns ID linked to Club Vistara and start using it soon.
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Old 11th June 2024, 17:07   #229
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re: Your review of Air India | 2 years since Tata took over

The new A350 Experience.

Four flights:

DEL-BOM (Apr '24)
BOM-DEL (Apr '24)
DEL-DXB (May '24)
DXB-DEL (May '24)

Though they are not long haul, they are a decent starter to comment on the new 350 experience. I'll go the TBHP way of letting a few pictures walk the talk.

Check-in experience.

Nothing to write home about. But, I must say, it's better than Vistara, despite seeing a young crowd. On one of the DXB flights from DEL, I was honourably selected for random Custom scrutiny . The airline sent an escort to help me expedite the process, and once through security, they checked in the bags. Even though that is the norm to know if the passenger is allowed or not, I was still sceptical and handed Gandhiji to the porter so that he could make sure I have a change of clothes when I'm in Habibi land

The least exciting part of the AI Delhi Biz route is the iconic AI lounge.

Hygiene was a thing missing on almost all the counters. I clicked just one.
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Broken coffee machine. The staff was willing to make one desi-style coffee, but honestly, get a new barista already.

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I didn't click pics, but I found no table without dark etched water rings, which almost seemed like an aesthetic design for all the furniture. These are hygiene basics to ensure the person sitting next is comfortable and thinks he/she's sitting in a clean space.


Moving on, Onboarding was smooth. The staff was excited and highly friendly. I hope that continues. A few new trainees were seen, with high enthusiasm. They offered to explain the seat functions when seated.


Full-closing suite (a faux one). Nice for privacy on long hauls when you wish to sleep comfortably. However, from a critical eye, the quality was not sturdy, and they had a lot of lateral movement. Only the crew can operate those from a topside latch, and during one of the landings, it slipped off the latch and came sliding in due to the landing force, questioning the sturdiness. I hope they survive the test of time.
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Nice space to store your shoes. Reminder: Do not keep your footwear in front of your seat. When you recline, it's not just an ottoman rising with space liberated below. The entire seat moves fore and aft and would crush your footwear if you leave them upfront. Better stow them away.

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This space was to store literature! It's not the most ergonomic use, IMHO. The hook below is not good enough to hang jackets or coats as the door passage is quite slim, and the hook height is a bit low. When you close it, it is better to use the outer hook outside the door at the top. (Focus on the top edge with a cutout, although, again, nitpicking, the round aesthetics are not the best as it makes the jacket sometimes fall, even with a little hand brush.

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There is plenty of space upfront. Even the tallest passengers would not have a concern. Regarding a sense of space and lack of claustrophobia, I found this better than Air Canada's Signature-class lie flat and some reverse herringbone designs. You can twist and turn in the seat and not hit elbows.

However, one critical observation—there is no elbow or armrest while you sit. It is not on the door side, and the table on the other side is not ergonomic unless you are a kid sitting on your mother's lap or you like to rest your arm like a flapping bird. It's highly missed, but I guess it's a trade-off for seat width.

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The food was decent, heated well, had clean cutlery, and had a decent taste. The juices were good. I hope someday, TAJSATS will provide an unparalleled culinary experience worthy of its legacy and name, which aligns with what Do&Co provides in Turkish today.

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A few other observations:

I didn't take pictures of the stowage beside the seat, but it was pretty nifty. It was big enough to store my iPad, had a soft base to land your phone, though not super big for today's gigantic phones, a nice multi-touch light, and a nifty mirror.

The seat functions on the side table's corner towards the seat and can be touched unnecessarily when you lie flat or recline high while trying to rest your elbows.

The massage function is not the most user-friendly. You must keep the button pressed, and a mild sensation starts after half a minute. I'm not sure how many will benefit from it, apart from curious trials.

I know that these are Aeroflot designs bought over by AI to expedite the Onboarding of new aircraft, so these edges are understandable. I hope the AI team has planned to perfection the end-to-end execution of the largest aircraft order in the world in today's age, and not just went for window shopping with TATA's credit card . I hope these and any more issues I didn't find are addressed and resolved in the coming purchases.

These are purely unbiased and authentic observations with the hope that the new AI(TATA) intends to become a world-class carrier. One can't become the best by compromising on any corner.

We need a lot more competition in the most populous and seventh-largest nation. If so many flagship Gulf carriers (also SE Asia) are surviving (flourishing) with a local population of millions, our market, too, can become one, with the added advantage of the largest homegrown flyer base.

I don't like it when the Indian diaspora is hurdled like cattle by foreign airlines (even though it's mostly because our folks lack a sense of space and order), as they are in a cultural shock. An indigenous airline (or many) will surely help in a smooth transition and travel for many Indians who will soon become future flyers. You can't bank all your bets on one airline! What if they fail to deliver again?
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Old 11th June 2024, 21:10   #230
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re: Your review of Air India | 2 years since Tata took over

I think the only way India is going to get a a new flagship carrier is if Indigo enters the full service airline segment rather than expecting Air India (the white elephant of the skies) to improve.
I had high hopes for Vistara, but once it merges with AI, I don't think its going to maintain its level of service.

Honestly, during 2022, Air India was improving a lot. AI had got their act together w.r.t timing. Most of their planes were on time (in domestic routes) and things were decent as long along as it was not one of their rotting 787s.
But this year onwards it has become a complete clown show.

I don't know why they are letting their planes rot though. At least get some new seat covers(read fresh covers with new designs) and do a deep clean of the existing aircrafts if you are facing delay in getting new aircraft.

What's the point of waiting for brand new aircrafts for 5 years if during the mean time you destroy the remaining goodwill of passengers buy making them feel like losers for choosing your service. By the time, the new planes arrive, I hope AI has any customers left.
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Old 12th June 2024, 09:39   #231
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Re: Your review of Air India | 2 years since Tata took over

I had extensively used Air India for my travel between India - USA - Canada - UK between 2010 to 2014 and hated it. I had faced a wide range of issues like - missing seats, broken seats, airhostess attitude, bad food, missing luggage, broken luggage, broken trays, clogged toilets, numerous delays etc.. But had no choice since the tickets were being booked by the Company's appointed agency. Only positive was the 10kgs extra baggage over and above 23 x 2 allowed by Air India for the Company I used to Work.

In May Flew on Air India Bangalore - Delhi - Toronto and back. Air India had introduced the 200ER & 300ER to USA and Canada in 2010-11 I believe. I happened to flew in these brand new aircrafts few times and was impressed with the Aircraft, but not with Air India.

So I was a bit eager to see what changes the TATA's have done to Air India and when I saw the Aircraft type as BOEING 777-300ER, I was wondering if it was the same old Aircraft or was the upgraded ones. My heart sank as soon as I entered the flight at IGI, it was the same old aircraft.

Here is my observation -

1. BLR-DEL-BLR - No drama. All went smoothly and also I dint take the dinner so cannot comments.
2. IGI Airport - Since I had a thorough check-in, I had to just clear the immigration at Delhi Airport.
3. Pre-Boarding - This is were the problem started. After announcing the boarding, around 12 Air India staff appeared out of nowhere with 4 weighing scale. They start weighing the cabin bags of the passenger standing in queue to board. If the total weight of the cabin bag was more than 8kgs, they were asked to step aside and pay for it. Few passenger were carrying 20+ kgs in cabin bags. Passenger's were being harassed just before boarding. BA and Air France used to do this in early 2000s to late 2010.
4. The Aircraft is old and it shows. Its very dull and stale.
5. 70% of the in-flight entertainment screen dint work. My rotten luck that my in-flight entertainment was not working on return flight as well.
6. The onward flight from Delhi had no USB charging port and with entertainment not working and no way to charge mobile, had to just sit and meditate. Luckily return flight had USB charger.
6. My tray was broken and I had to keep the tray on my lap while eating.
7. Onwards flight seat recliner was stuck at an awkward angle, neither back nor upright. So spent most of the time standing near the pantry.
8. Food was average - Chicken was a bit stale and pudding/sweet or what ever it was.. it was just disgusting. Not sure whose idea is it to give poori and aloo bhaji on an international flight.
9. No hot towel offered, no wet hand napkins provided before food.
10. Positive - The flight was on time and landed on time.
11. The attitude of the staff was much better than what I anticipated

Regards
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Old 12th June 2024, 10:11   #232
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Re: Your review of Air India | 2 years since Tata took over

In May 2024, I made a trip from Bangalore to Copenhagen and back (for my Denmark-Norway roadtrip). The cheap-o in me, booked Air India for the entire trip to save some cost and boy did I regret it.

Quick review:

1. BLR-DEL - A320 - This was on an A320 and no drama. Food was meh!!! Flight was delayed for take off by few minutes but landed on time. Nothing to write about.

2. DEL-CPH - B787 - This was a whole different story. So the flight from DEL T3 was scheduled for around 2PM. And was to land in CPH by around 7PM. The Air India app showed the plane tail number and I could see that the flight had landed in DEL airport in the early hours of the day. So it was in the airport resting for more than 8 hours.

Reached the airport and check in was straightforward. I hate the security check in Delhi as compared to BLR. The entire process feels very babudom-ish.

There was a last minute change in boarding gate. And I knew we will be bus-ed to the airplane. There was a delay of about 30 minutes for boarding. But everyone was on board around 3.00PM. One of the doors was not closing. Having read extensively on the B737 door blowout in the US, this was not very good.

Technicians without even a screw driver trying to fix the door
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One technician came on board and acted as if he was fixing it for about 1 hour. I say 'acting' because he did not even have a single tool or screw driver with him. Then food was served as we were still on the tarmac. And the drama continued. All passengers speculated that the technician was out for lunch and once he is back - things will move. I thought this was a joke.

Technician back after lunch. And all fixed.
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But - hey - another hour later, the hero turns up and fixes the door issue within the next 10 minutes. And yes, he did come with some tools.

About the food - found the worst food trays and food quality. This was a major let down. Please see pics. The domestic sector food is exactly the same as the DEL-CPH sector. I dont think TATAs intend to fix this.

Sample of the food trays
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On IFE - The remotes were all broken and unusable. My son who always looks forward to the IFE screen on international flights was not in a good mood.

This remote was broken. And same with 80% of the seats
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The most dirtiest seats and tray tables ever.

The toilets - didnt even feel like taking a pic. Just felt like my phone would be dirty if I did that. The toilet seat was broken and I took a dump with the seat leaning on my back. Needless to say - threw out my shirt once I landed. An entire panel behind the toilet was broken. Sorry no pics.

Air India should change its name. This cannot be the flag carrier for India.

PS: The door stayed closed during the flight. And we did have a good road trip.

Last edited by Naetik30 : 12th June 2024 at 10:18.
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Old 12th June 2024, 10:41   #233
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Re: Your review of Air India | 2 years since Tata took over

I forgot to mention this.

The best thing I liked about my return journey on A350 was the safety video. So well thought out, well executed, extremely likable and proudly gives a glimpse of the traditional Indian dances.

I have taken a video of it, it is slightly above 2 mins, so will find a way to post it here.

Sharing few screenshots from the video for now.

Your review of Air India | 2 years since Tata took over-3.jpg

Your review of Air India | 2 years since Tata took over-2.jpg

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Old 12th June 2024, 13:17   #234
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Re: Your review of Air India | 2 years since Tata took over

Somehow I feel these new age safety videos are a wee bit distracting. Qatar plays one with football stars. BA had something quirky, I don’t recollect it fully. But the first time I watched these videos in the respective airlines I was more drawn to the video than the message. Of course on subsequent trips I knew what to expect… So I wonder if this is OK or more a distraction. Am sure the airlines would have thought about it, but would like to hear BHPians thoughts on this.
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Old 12th June 2024, 21:05   #235
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Re: Your review of Air India | 2 years since Tata took over

Tatas should have paused everything for a bit and kept only the really good airplanes flying to keep the slots active.

They should have sent all their planes for refurbishment. And keep adding the refurbished/new ones into the fleet.

They should have gotten their act together on the HR side of things first and foremost.

Yes, they would have lost money initially but they could have started everything with a bang. But now the bad press/reviews makes everyone scared to book a flight with them.

Last edited by graaja : 12th June 2024 at 21:12. Reason: Minor typo
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Old 13th June 2024, 00:51   #236
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Re: Your review of Air India | 2 years since Tata took over

I think there should’ve been a third option - AI’s gone downhill after Tata takeover, since that’s what is more accurate imo.
I had booked the (infamous) SFO to BLR AI flight about a year back for travel in July 2023. They made us sit in the cabin for 2-3 hours till midnight then asked us to deboard and get our bags.
Complete chaos at the airport with 300 odd folks - elderly, families with kids, running helter skelter trying to figure out what’s happening without anyone to help or assist.
Eventually at 4/5 am ground staff told us to go book a hotel and / or buy an alternate flight which will be reimbursed.
No policies shared and ground staff was too stretched and disinterested to help.

I finally managed to rebook another AI flight for a couple of days later…
Wrote to the email address provided for the hotel comp and no reply - escalated within AI, still no reply.
Was super disappointed and irritated so wrote to the consumer forum - finally got a reply from AI, sent my details and again no reply!

Eventually got busy and forgot about it. I would be happy to pay out of my pocket to sue these folks.

Incidentally this flight is in the news every few weeks with massive delays, fliers stuck in the flight helpless and / or cancellations.

Not only do these guys have the gall to fly old, dilapidated planes, they don’t even have the basic smarts to have a proper on ground and service response to the same recurring issue.

Such gross failures could only come about through a complete lack of intention or complete mismanagement - don’t know which would be worse!!
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Old 13th June 2024, 11:14   #237
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Re: Your review of Air India | 2 years since Tata took over

Quote:
Originally Posted by prnvaa View Post
I had booked the (infamous) SFO to BLR AI flight about a year back for travel in July 2023. They made us sit in the cabin for 2-3 hours till midnight then asked us to deboard and get our bags.
Looks like I was lucky compared to your ordeal. I chose the BLR-SFO nonstop over Qatar hoping for a shorter flight time. On the way to SFO, they cancelled the flight after I reached the airport and put me on a plane to Mumbai and further to SFO from Mumbai. On the return journey, I received a SMS just after I checked out of the hotel informing me of flight cancellation and asking to contact airlines for rebooking. Thankfully I had just driven a few hundred meters. Being a Saturday, I was lucky enough to get the hotel room extended by another 2 nights and left again on Monday morning on SFO-DEL-BLR routing. Long story short, paid more for a one hop terrible experience and outdated equipment (SFO-DEL), so back to Qatar and Oneworld for now.
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Old 13th June 2024, 17:37   #238
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Re: Your review of Air India | 2 years since Tata took over

Looks like Tata have lost the plot after 2 years of takeover of Air India. Filthy and broken toilets, stained seats, broken tray tables and non-working IFE. How is one supposed to eat?! This reeks of reckless and careless attitude from Tata, a far departure from their USP. Every passenger deserves clean seats, tray tables and a hygienic loo. If Tata is not able to provide these basic requirements even after so many complaints all over social media from many passengers, it shows the attitude of the Airline as a service provider.
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Old 14th June 2024, 08:12   #239
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Re: Your review of Air India | 2 years since Tata took over

Tata’s and Air India are stuck with unruly old staff and dilapidating planes . In many cases staff is helpless due to condition of planes and in other cases management is helpless due to such staff.

Air India was on a death bed when Tata’s took over. Someone had to bite the bullet to take them over. As a national airline Air India had highest international slots parred with Tata’s emotional connect made some sense in buying for them. Though there is no excuse for any shortcomings towards the people suffering due to these issues.

After launching and running Vistara successfully Tata’s have proved that they can run and be profitable in Airline business.

Turn around will take some time. Till then at least for international travel, I will avoid Air India.

Wishing Tata’s and people flying Air India all the best.
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