A YetiGuideģ to Airlines, Airports and Domestic Air Travel
Iíve been planning this for a while but somehow never got around to writing it. Just found a little time and so here we go.
I travel often and have a LOT of experience with Air Travel, especially domestic. While many of you may have the opportunity to travel as much, if not more than I, some do not travel as often. There are times when we havenít flown for a while and have no idea what airline to choose. There are questions that plague someone who hasnít traveled for a while, or may even be flying for the first time.
I am going to use my extensive flying experience and begin this guide to Airports, Airlines and Domestic air travel. Letís get through the disclaimers first:
Etiquette (Part 1): Be Nice and Polite at the Airport
Etiquette? Why should there be any etiquette? After all you paid money for your ticket and you want to fly somewhere and the customer is king! Why should you do anything at all?
Remember one thing. Everyone that works in the airlines is decent, well-spoken, well-educated and co-operative with you. If you are rude and unkind, you will still reach from one place to another, but if you are nice and well-behaved, you could make a mundane journey interesting and youíll see people going out of their way to help you.
It is not mandatory to be nice to anyone, but be nice, follow rules and suddenly everything will go right in your short journey. Ask for what you need in a kind manner and it will happen quickly and easily.
There are 2 things that work in your advantage. Airline staff are decent and educated people and are trained to co-operate. Secondly, with the advent of multiple airlines, your business is dear to them. A polite request, made with a smile can lead to astonishing results.
Of course this does not mean you ask the pretty lady who checked you in to give you a kiss. This too may lead to astonishing results, but not the kind you hope for.
I will be writing Etiquette(Part2) in the Airline towards Stewardesses. But that will be later.
Baggage and Luggage
Iím not altogether sure why, but Indians as a people carry excess luggage. Iím making this sweeping statement after years of observation.
We like to carry a lot of luggage. We like to check in a lot of luggage and we like to carry as much as we can with us. It is very common to see old ladies carry a handbag, a heavy cabin sized suitcase, 3 plastic bags full of gulab jamuns, one dabba of achar and a walking stick, struggling at every step of the way. Why would you subject yourself to this torture? In the case of the old lady, all she really needs is the stick and the handbag!
You donít need to carry as much as you can in the cabin. Why would you do that? By carrying heavy and multiple luggage into the cabin you:
Take a small bag into the cabin. Make it easy for everyone including yourself. Donít lug around suitcases pretending to be cabin baggage. Carry your laptop bag, or a small backpack and check in the rest. If you donít have a laptop, just check everything in for Godís sake. See what a pleasant journey you can have, if you are free to explore and walk around with your hands in your pockets.
Besides with the new security laws, you canít carry liquids and gels and you need to check them in. Check-in baggage can carry all of that crap.
Regular service Airlines like Kingfisher, Jet and Sahara (now JetLite) allow 20Kgs to be checked in. Kingfisher is a little more accommodating than Jet and a smile will allow 25 kgs to be checked in easily. Indian Airlines (now Indian) allows 30Kgs in and the check in staff will not even mention anything to you if it is 35Kgs.
Economy and Business airlines will allow only 15Kgs. While Spice, Go and Indigo are very accommodating in this regard, Air Deccan is a complete rip-off, wanting to charge you right from the 16th Kilo.
I specifically call this a rip-off because they fly the same aircraft. A smaller luggage allowance on a smaller aircraft is understandable, but this is an obvious exercise in making money. I will relate some hilarious Air Deccan stories later.
A large Suitcase, filled with many clothes and shoes will weigh about 20Kgs. If you think you have more luggage, fly Indian (soon to be Air India).
Pack up your suitcase with as much as you can and check the thing in. It will travel in the cargo hold, where itís supposed to. You can be free in the passenger area, where youíre supposed to be.
Remember to ask for fragile stickers if you have anything breakable, like a bottle of whiskey etc.
It makes no sense to approach travel agents anymore. Arm yourself with a credit card and a mobile phone and you can get to anywhere in India. It is not even necessary to have a computer with internet facility.
I prefer to book on the phone. Twice I got disconnected from the web page during a transaction and I was not sure if I should do it again or not. I feel more secure on the phone.
It is very safe to buy an airline ticket with a credit card. I have been flying extensively using my credit cards and I have never been overcharged or charged for a flight I didn’t take. I have always received reverse credit for every cancelled flight. I can report no misuse by any airline.
While some people use Yatra.com and other travel portals, I prefer to call the airline directly and make my booking. Often I do this on my way to the airport, if it’s sudden, or a week in advance if it is planned. Of course you can always go online and book a ticket, but since this a YetiGuide®, let’s talk about phone bookings.
Delhi and Gurgaon: 0124-2844700, Mumbai: 022-66499393, Bangalore: 080-41979797 All India MTNL and BSNL only: 1800-1800101
Kingfisher has an excellent and efficient phone booking service. Welcome to the good times indeed. The staff is well spoken, clear and obviously well trained. They understand what you want perfectly and offer the right flights to you.
Drawbacks: Their “systems are down” once too often. If that happens, I simply call another airline.
Mumbai: 022-39893333, Delhi: 011-51641414
Just like Kingfisher, polished staff will greet your enquiry. Until a few weeks back it was not possible to buy non-refundable, cheap-cheap fares on the phone. This situation has been changed now. They have many flights and the chances of your finding a flight at a particular time are greater with Jet, than Kingfisher, simply because of the frequency of flights. The hold time, before you get to a staff can be alarmingly long sometimes.
They never ever have the lowest fare to go to any destination. Almost always, there will be another airline with a lesser fare.
One great advantage is that Jet REFUNDS the money to your credit card when you cancel (minus some charges of course). Other airlines will not give you your money back.
Indian: (Soon to be Air India)
One number, all India, no matter if you call from any landline or any mobile phone: 1407
Indian has had a revamp in the past few months. A revamp that has worked out amazingly well. While it is convenient and easy, the staff are not as polished as the previous two. Also for some reason, the booking is done through one person and the payment through another. Expect to spend 5 minutes extra, than with Jet or KF. For some reason the hold times are longer.
However, there is STILL no airline with the number of destinations and choices that Indian offers. Your chances of flying to any city in India with an airport at a time of your choice rests best with this Airline.
Fares can be surprisingly good, depending on your luck. All morning flights are almost always either full or high-fare.
Staff are well spoken, but always seem to have trouble understanding your request. I would like to fly to Bangalore in the evening. Sir we have one flight at 8 am, another at 2 pm and one at 5pm. Know what I mean?
They don’t have too many sectors, but this does not bother me as my flying is mostly metro.
Fares can be cheap if you call early.
My new favourite. Fantastic staff, you can tell they are smiling even behind the telephone. Immediate and fast and super convenient. My best call centre experience has consistently come from indigo.
This is also the only airline that allows you to reserve your seat on the phone. They take time and trouble to understand what you want. It is always a pleasure to call Indigo.
09871803333, All India MTNL and BSNL: 18001803333
Spice has a nice call centre, helpful and quick. They don’t have too many flights to choose from and many of their flights are via another city. Always check if it’s a direct flight. I once flew to Delhi via Ahmedabad and it took almost 4 hours, including a 40 minute stop in Ahmedabad. I did not know the flight was via Ahmedabad till I reached the airport.
Air Deccan has consistently disappointed me on every front of travel. The call centre does not do much better, featuring last on my list for multiple reasons.
All my experiences are before the take-over of Air Deccan by Kingfisher.
These above are the Airlines I travel often in. You may notice the absence of Air Sahara (Now JetLite). For some reason I’ve never booked an Air Sahara ticket by phone (I’ve traveled often on Air Sahara, when the company travel agent has booked the tickets). Since I’m not researching for this article and I don’t have the number on my mobile phone, I’ve not included it.
First Time Flyers
Flying was always considered to be the privilege of the educated and upper class of people. While this is certainly not true anymore, it still leaves one residual hangover. You feel foolish if you don't know what to do.
Flying is still very much considered to be a sophisticated mode of travel.
People are presentable, nobody spits, everyone smiles and speaks English.
While it is OK not to know procedures in train and bus travel (there aren’t any anyway), one feels stupid when he does not know how to travel by air. Besides, you can’t really go up to someone and ask them what to do, because everyone looks so busy.
Here’s a guide on how to travel by air, for the first time. If you're a regular traveller, just skip this post.
So now you have your SMS booking. What next? The luggage advice should help you with the next step. Remember to pack all your liquids, gels and sprays in the checked in bag. Smokers should throw their favourite lighter in as well. Tools, razors, even a handyman (leatherman/ swiss knife etc.) should be all packed in the suitcase. I prefer not to use a padlock. I will explain why in a bit.
Call the airline 3 hours before the flight. You can call the same number you used to book the ticket. Ask if the flight is on schedule. Ask what terminal the flight takes off from. Cities like Mumbai and Delhi have multiple domestic terminals and landing up at the wrong one can cost you 15 to 30 minutes of time, not to mention embarrassment.
Arrive at the airport exactly one hour before your flight. Locate the sms on your mobile phone. If your bag is heavy, locate a trolley. Walk up to the airline counter. All airline counters will be just outside the airport.
When you turn arrives, stick your mobile phone into the window and smile. The person will look at your SMS. You will be asked to confirm your full name. Then you will receive a print out.
Take this print out and proceed to enter the airport. You will have to show the printout to the security guards. You may be asked at this point to produce a valid photo identity. A photo credit card, or a license is sufficient.
Enter the airport. Look for the XRay machines. There will be signs on the XRay machine, indicating the applicable airlines. Find the one with your airline logo on it and place your checked in bag on the belt. You do not need to place your hand baggage in this machine (Recently, I was asked to put my hand bag too, at Mumbai only. Unless you are asked to, do NOT put your handbag in this Xray machine ).
When the bag comes out the routine will be to strap it (heat strap) and stick a label across the zipper.
Ask for a plastic seal lock. This is something like a cable tie – it goes through the zipper lock and cannot be opened, only broken. The guys will seal the zipper. This is a lot safer than a padlock which can be broken or opened, or worse, one you could lose the key to.
Collect your bag and go to the check in counter. There are no specific counters for flights. Just look for the airline logo and look for Economy Class. When your turn arrives, first place your checked in baggage on the scale next to the check in counter. Then look at the staff, big broad smile, a good morning/afternoon/evening is in order. Hand over your printout and immediately make your request. “I would love a window seat/ Near the toilet please, I have a leaky bladder/ I’m very tall, a seat with some legroom please"
Do not be nervous or you might end up saying "Your phone number, meet me near the toilet, I'm very tall and would love a leaky bladder"
(Tip: If you are tall, avoid the window. The fuselage is tubular and the windows have less headroom. The curve of the tube will annoy your head and neck. It’s only good if you can sleep with your head resting on one side, but even that will give you a neck ache. The Aisle: pronounced like file without the F, is best)
At this point you may have to produce Photo ID. The check in staff member will print out a boarding card. Every piece of luggage that you check in, will have a corresponding sticker on your boarding card. You can now safely put away your printout ticket. You will not need it anymore.
Make sure you have collected and attached a hand baggage tag to your handbag.
Proceed to security check. Now you will enter a secure area. You will need to place your hand bag in another Xray machine (remember to put your mobile phone, iPod etc. in your hand bag) and wait in line for a frisking.
There will be a separate line for gents and ladies. Wait at the yellow line behind the metal detector till the security officer finishes frisking the guy ahead of you. When he’s done, walk through the metal detector. Walk up to the platform. Lay your boarding card on the table next to you. Remove your wallet, coins etc and lay them out on the same table. Stand straight with your arms slightly stretched out. When the frisking is done, he will stamp your boarding card.
Then go to the other side of the Xray machine and collect your bag. Make sure that the hand baggage tag is also stamped. You cannot travel without these 2 stamps.
While leaving the security area, you will need to show both stamps to the officer on duty. Now look for the right gate and wait till they announce your flight. Sometimes there will be an Aero-Bridge that leads straight into the aircraft. Often there will be a bus going to your aircraft.
When you reach the aircraft, they will tear your boarding pass and hand over the portion with the baggage tags to you. You will need to show both the security stamos again.Take a good look at your seat number.
Get into the aircraft, smile at the pretty ladies and get into your seat. If you are wearing a jacket, you can hand it over to the stewardess to keep in the closet but you will need to give her your boarding pass with it. Otherwise you wont need that anymore either.
Get into your seat and buckle up. Remember to switch off your mobiles (more on that later.) Have a safe flight.
When you land, there will be an announcement and/ or a sign that tells you what belt your luggage will arrive on.
Happy flying and if you have any questions, feel free to ask them.
Next: Etiquette and On Board dos and donts.
On Board Etiquette - Dos and don'ts
Dress Clean. You donít have to be formally dressed, a tee-shirt and jeans will do, but keep it clean. You are going to spend a few hours in a closed environment with a bunch of strangers. I donít like to be seated next to a smelly, sticky guy. I am sure you wouldnít either. The first step is to be fresh and smelling nice. You cannot mask odour in an airline and if you want to be treated nicely, look scrubbed and smell good.
Remember, in dual class airlines, when economy class is full, only decently dressed people are upgraded.
Smile back at the crew. If you meet the same crew on another flight, ask him or her how she is. The crew can tell a regular flier in seconds and always make sure that a frequent flier gets immediate attention for whatever he needs. The seasoned traveller generally asks for less too.
Buckle up. Itís the law. Switch your mobile phone off. It annoys me to no end how people will continue to use their cellphones when they are not supposed to. THINK! A cellphone causes havoc when it rings in your car. Your speakers go BRRR BEEP BROOP. Imagine the captain of an airplane, who has 140 lives in his hands. Do you really want him to misunderstand an instruction because you want to say bye to your girlfriend?
Make your call before you enter the aircraft. If itís urgent, make your call before the doors close. Then switch the infernal thing off. If your neighbour is using his phone, ask him firmly but politely to switch it off. Itís YOUR life. If you are using a fancy phone with a flight mode, put it in flight mode and inform the crew that you are doing that.
Avoid pushing your seat back. You arenít supposed to do it anyway during take off and landing. Maybe during the flight you can push it back a little, but remember to pull back up during meals.
Be nice to the airline crew. Theyíre being nice to you. Remember that you are paying for passage from point A to point B. Everything else is a bonus. The airline crew are trained to save your life, deliver a child, give first aid, save passengers in case of a crash and many more things. They are NOT waiters. Donít treat them badly. There is a very good reason why most of them are probably paid more than you.
ďExcuse me, waterĒ is something she hears thousands of times. Itís the same words over and over again. Sheís probably going to forget.
Her nametag is pinned on her breast. Look at it. The nametag boy. ďPriyaĒ smiling ďCould you get me a bottle of water? No hurry, whenever you can ok?Ē. Trust me, the water will reach you before anyone else.
Ask for a blanket and pillow as soon as you sit, if you intend to sleep. Good airlines (Jet, KF etc.) will have a Do Not Disturb sticker. Ask for it to be stuck on your headrest.
Most airlines with meals will have 2 basic choices, veg or non veg. If you are Jain or Jew, itís best to request for the special meal at the time of booking your ticket. If you arenít too well, you can ask for a plate of fruit instead.
Smile at the people sitting next to you. It breaks the ice and makes travel better. Strike up a conversation if you feel like it and if it appears that the person is interested to talk.
Help people lift up their bags into the rack and help them take it off when you land. Many will do the same for you, happily.
Some people ask the crew to lift their bags into the rack. I mean come ON! It is not their duty and any man who asks a lady to help him lift his crap is not much of a man. Call me old fashioned, I just think itís completely wrong.
Donít buzz unless you really need to. Itís really quite annoying.
Airline reviews - Kingfisher
This is a no pretension review. I'm going to cover everything that is important. From food to crew, everything, no pretension. Enjoy!
Review: Rarely can I find a near flawless airline. This one is probably the perfect traveller experience. Yes I have my niggly wigglies, but that's no reason to take away a star.
The great experience begins from the call center. Here is an airline out to prove a point. Arrive at the airport and a smartly dressed Kingfisher man will ask you if you are flying Kingfisher. Say yes and he's already pulled out your bag and intends to escort you through.
Do not worry, this is a free service. Tips are not permitted at KF.
If flying KF first class, you will have a valet/escort right till the aircraft. Economy passengers (KF class) are treated like kings too. KF introduced the concept of floating check in where the staff come up to you with a wireless check in and a belt clipped printer. Saves a lot of time.
The crew is smart. Great looking women, everyone is well spoken. Earlier they had the same uniforms for the ground staff and the Airline crew. The skirts were too short for the airport and were changed to long pants for the ladies.
Those uniforms are tight and an eyeful, by any standards.
A bit too much of red, what with the shoes and everything, but this airline has style, I'll give it that.
On board, it's red everywhere. The first airline and still the only one to have on board entertainment on every aircraft, every sector.The free take aways are a brilliant idea. Most Indians would steal the headphones anyway, so they offer a KF branded headphone that can be used with anything later. The useful pouch contains a pen, some mints, on occasion a keychain, sometimes some free samples.
The on board system is perfect. One channel with babes, one with comedy, one with cricket, one with current affairs and stock market and so on.
The music channels are pretty good too.
Yana Gupta does the onboard announcements here on the 5" screen. Get past Dr. Mallya's heavy anouncements and the KF experience begins.
Excellent legroom. KF flies only Airbus aircraft. All brand new and super clean. The food is excellent. It's not pretentious, there's no salad. But the food is excellent (menus are handed out at the beginning of the flight) right down to the dessert.
The crew are pretty. There is no male crew. Unlike Jet, the rules are lax so don't be too surprised by strange or excessive hair colour and/ or make up. The red uniforms don't help here.
The girls are good looking. The white blouses are well fitted. (They take their jackets off after take off) The skirts are form fitting and lead to some annoying panty lines sometimes. I don't like the skin coloured stockings, but I'm just being picky.
Overall they are friendly and very nice.
I will give this airline 5 stars simply for anticipating the Indian passenger well in advance and raising the standards of service in the sky.
Airline reviews - Jet
The oldest private sector domestic airline.
These are the guys that originally set the standards, when the best thing we had was Indian Airlines.
Airlines have come and gone, but these guys have been around for a long while and are still running well.
I used to avoid Jet for a long time, simply because they would not offer cheap-cheap fares on the phone. Since their policy has now changed, I've been flying this airline.
Jet flies Boeing 737's on their domestic sector and stick 27 rows in the economy. There is little or no legroom. If someone pushes his seat back completely I have to be careful not to gouge out his eye while scratching my testes.
The only reason this uncomfortable tin can airline gets a decent rating is for it's impeccable and professional service. Take a look at the crew. I've never seen such well groomed people in my life. Perfect make up, perfect manners, perfect hair, great smiles.
Sure there's no entertainment, the aircrafts are a little worn (except for the few new ones), but everything is smooth, right from check in to the picture perfect service.
If I was 6 inches shorter, I'd have given this airline 4 stars. If I was 6 inches shorter and had never flown Kingfisher, it would have had 5 stars.
Good food. Flights on time. Lots of destinations and sectors (for example they do Pune-Bangalore direct flights) Professional ground crew. There isn't more that Jet can offer you.
I hear that their international flights are outstanding. I have not had a chance to experience this and besides, this is a domestic travel guide.
Airline reviews - Air Deccan
My experience and reviews are all prior to the recent acquisition of Air Deccan by KF. However I've been told that nothing has changed.
This is the airline that made everyone drop their prices. For this, I give it that half star in gratitude. Beyond this, I've nothing nice to say about it.
Everything about this airline reeks of low quality, right from the check in experience to the plane itself.
Initially the airline had no seat numbers. People would scramble into the aircraft and fight for window seats. I'm sorry, I cannot do that.
This was remedied in the first few months. Everything is sponsored on this airline, even the headrests have Shri Krishna Sweets written on them.
The aircrafts are new, but not well kept. The crew are not pleasant, the uniforms are ugly and smiles are few and far between.
The food needs to be purchased (THIS I can understand). It is from Cafe Coffee Day and is stale. There is NEVER any money change with the crew.
The flights are always late and for some reason always last on the landing priority.
Considering that Air Deccan is NOT necessarily the cheapest option, I see no reason to fly this, unless it's the last/ only choice.
Next: 2 funny stories from my journeys with Air Deccan.
My first bad experience with Air Deccan
It was around the time when Air Deccan was a few months old.
I was flying from new Delhi to Mumbai, it was an early morning flight and I had an upset stomach.
I needed to go for a big job. I hate going in the aircraft toilets, simply because I'm a big guy and if I fill up my lungs completely, I can touch the toilet from wall to wall. But I went, because I had to.
Finished. I needed soap. I always need soap. Pump Pump. The soap cannister was empty. Hmmm.
I opened up and went to the loo across (I was in the rear section where there are 2 toilets). Pump pump. Nada. How annoying.
I come out and of course there's no crew. (AD manages with a skeletal crew of 2 per flight) I wave out to the lady who eventually walk up to me. Yes? I need soap. Soap? Soap. There's no soap in the toilet? No. She opens the door. I'm hoping it isn't smelling in there. Pump Pump. Yes, yes I already did that, there's no soap in there.
She opens the door of the john across. Pump pump. What are you crazy lady?
She walks across the length of the aircraft to the toilet near the cockpit. I stand in the aisle. 10 seconds later she steps out, shaking her hand to show me there's no soap there either.
What are you kidding me? 3 toilets, 150 passengers and no soap?
I understand this is a business airline, but businessmen need soap OK?
My last flight with Air Deccan
It was in 2005. I was completing an All India Tour that had ended in HP. I was carrying Jam and pickle etc. Not too much luggage, but the stuff was a little heavy. AD only gives 15kgs free.
New Delhi Airport: It's the end of 2005. I'm tired and waiting to go home. The driver has dropped me to the Airport. I have Rs.550/- left in my pocket.
I get to the Air Deccan Counter and put my luggage on the counter
Staff Member (male): Yessir, you have excess baggage
Me: Oh? OK. How much excess?
Staff: X kilos (I forget how much it was)
Me: Oh come on, it's not much. Can you let it go?
Staff: Straight faced: No.
Me: OK how much do I need to pay?
Staff: 600 Rupees.
Me: Oh ok, no problem. here's my credit card.
Staff: I'm sorry I cannot accept your credit card.
Me: What? Why?
Staff: We don't have a credit card machine.
I'm blinking slowly. This is New Delhi Airport.
Me: Well I don't think I have enough cash. Wait. I pull out 550/-. here take 500/- issue me a receipt and we're done.
Staff: No I cannot take less. We are not allowed.
Me: I'm not asking you to take less. I'm asking you to cooperate. I need Rs.50 to go home. Charge me for 1 kilo less and take the 500 cash. if you want 600, then take my credit card.
Staff: I can't do that.
Me: So what am I supposed to do now?
Staff: I can't let you fly.
Me: now enraged: Please call your supervisor.
It's a lady. I control myself.
Me: Your staff is quite uncooperative and rude I have a situation here. You want 600 for excess baggage.
Supe: yes that's the rule. You have to pay..
Me:cutting her short: Well, I don't mind paying, but he won't accept my card
Supe: That's because we don't have a credit card machine.
Me: Why not?
Supe: It's applied for.
Me: How long have you guys been here at Delhi
Supe: Almost 2 years.
Me: And you don't have a CC machine?
Supe: These things take time.
Me: sputtering: But you promote yourself as an E airline. Wait a minute, are you telling me that you only sell tickets to people who have cash??
Supe: No we have a credit card machine there. Pointing to ticketing counter behind me.
Me: So take my card and swipe it there for 600 bucks!
Supe: No that is for ticketing. I can't swipe your card there.
Me: Exasperated: Look, I don't have enough cash. Can you take 500 instead of 600? please?
Me: Totally pissed off: Give me my ticket I don't want to fly your stupid airline.
I was flummoxed and my ego hurt. What could I do? I could walk across to Jet and buy a new ticket for twice the cost, maybe more.
Me: I'd like to make a complaint. Who do I make it to?
Without a word, the staff member writes down an email address on a piece of paper.
Me: On the phone to my driver: Gopal kahaan pahunche? Vaapas aao, 100 rupees leke aao.
To add insult to injury, i was not allowed out and he was not allowed in. He somehow managed to hand me the money.
I checked in.
Later I wrote a stinker of an email. The last line was "I understand that Air Deccan is an economy airline, but if cooperation and courtesy is something you cannot afford to your passengers, then I will never fly Air Deccan again"
I did not recieve a reply. I never flew Air Deccan again.
Airline reviews - Indian
Indian (Soon to be Air India):
With the advent of multiple options in the flying business, Indian pulled up its socks and has never looked back since. Here is truly an airline that you cannot complain about.
All domestic aircraft are Airbus. Comfortable and clean. yes, some of the aircraft are old and fading, but not dirty.
The check in experience is surprisingly good. The staff are mostly well mannered and kind.
Indian also has hostesses to guide you on the ground. Flights are rarely delayed.
The service is great. Contrary to popular opinion, Indian has some of the prettiest looking crew onboard. beautiful slim young Indian ladies in well fit sarees. Yes, I know what you're thinking - Aunties! But let me ask you this, when was the last time you flew Indian Airlines? You're wrong! I give it a full thumbs up.
Good service, fantastic food and friendly crew. All flights almost always on time (better than all other airlines in this list).
Good reading material, lots of legroom. Ask for 11 or 12 charlie or delta at the counter and you end up with enough legroom to have a party. Sure the seats don't recline, but who needs that on a 1 hour flight?
I like Indian. I believe that with the merging of AI and IA, a goverment sector airline will be born that will make the others shiver.
IA also has many special booklet based offers (cheap fares, open flights and 2 free upgrades to business class). I like this airline. it's old school and enjoyable. I also find that IA and Jet have the highest population of Suit wearing Business Types.
I am only taking away one star for the old aircraft and lack of entertainment system.
Given the convenience of the call centre and the multiple flight options, I'd place this on a priority list higher than Jet.
Airline reviews - SpiceJet
The first decent all-economy airline after Air Deccan, SpiceJet looks like a happy airline with it's bright colours and smiling staff. The staff smile a lot, but can be fairly mismanaged.
I have had more than once incident where things went wrong. Once we were asked to board and aircraft, then deplane, then board again, all within a span of 10 minutes.
They used old planes, leased from European (did I see signs in German? Spanish?) Airlines. Often the Captain is European too.
The crew is skeletal. Just like AD, there is only one class of seating throughout the plane. Legroom is decent.
On closer inspection, everything is not perfectly clean. You cannot buy food on the flight, so if you are hungry, you're in trouble.
Spice will serve you a bottle (read:half a pint) of water and offer you cookies. A tray full of open cookies, 2 kinds, light brown and dark brown. The light brown are avoidable. You can't grab 6 cookies and make a dash for it.
Nope, 2 cookies and a glass of water is what you'll have to survive on.
The crew smile a lot and this often makes up for the fact that they are not stunners. I like the company colours but think the uniforms could have been better designed.
Flights are often late, both in arrival and in take-off.
Late yes, but never as late as Air Deccan - OT: Did you know that my Air Deccan flight from Delhi to Mumbai (On another day) was delayed by 13 hours!!!! How can you delay a flight that takes 2 hours, for 13 hours!!
Coming back to SpiceJet, overall the flying experience is pretty decent, especially considering that their fares are often cheaper than Air Deccan.
Airline reviews - Indigo
Yetimeter: Here's a surprise
Let's face it: it takes audacity to print "India's coolest Airline" on the planes and busses. They have a great brand image and a great looking logo IMO. Here was an airline I was dying to try and once I did, they did not fail to deliver on any count.
I have found, on 3 seperate occasions, that Indigo has the lowest fare possible on a given day for a given sector. To give you an idea, consider that I was able to purchase a Bangalore-Mumbai ticket, 2 weeks in advance for Rs.18XX/- including Rs.14XX/- in tax!!:Shockked:
I've mentioned that the callcentre is a pleasure to call. I meant that. The staff are cool. When I asked for a seat with some legroom (on the phone) I was greeted with "Sir, Indigo has the most legroom amongst all airlines in it's class" and I can tell you for a fact that it's true.
Outstanding staff that work like clockwork. Check in is blindingly quick. Let me point out an advantage of reserving your seats on the phone.
As you know, most airlines will assign you a seat at check-in. Imagine a situation where you are travelling with a colleague. You are both arriving from different destinations. You will have to wait before you check in for him/her to arrive. That can be annoying, especially considering you might want a stroll, or a coffee.
But here, since seats are reserved, you can go ahead and check in, knowing that your colleague will be next to you on the flight.
Check in is quick, staff are courteous and smooth. A major emphasis is placed on timing. We were ushered in a lot sooner than most other airlines. When asked why the staff member replied "We do everything possible to be on time, please cooperate with us"
On board the brand new Airbus, everything is clean and smells great. The crew are very pretty and extremely friendly and helpful. You keep forgetting that you're on a economy airline.
Like AD, you have to buy your food here. 100 bucks for a chicken sandwich and 25 bucks for a Diet Coke or Juice. It seemed a little expensive, but I was hungry. I was treated to a fresh, soft and fairly large chicken sandwich that I enjoyed very much.It was worth the 100 bucks.
Flights have been on time, mostly and I see no reason for this airline to get less than 5 stars. What you get, is worth FAR more than what you pay for.
Airline reviews - Go Air
The uniforms and colours have style, but you would not expect anything less from Bombay Dyeing now would you?
What I found most interesting was that here was an airline that didn't have a single colour for anything. Only the logo was constant.
Tags are orange (my favourite), pink, blue, green, red. Aircraft tails can be either of those colours too. Crew uniforms can be any of those colours.
The call centre is poor. The Airline counters could have been better managed. The staff are helpful and courteous and pleasing to look at.
Check in is efficient as are the formalities at the airport.
On board the crew are well groomed but don't smile a lot. This shocks me more, because I am 100% sure they've been coached by Maureen Wadia (Gladrags). On board reading is Gladrags magazine and Pretty Preity Zinta (Obviously) peeks out from everywhere, behind your boarding pass, in the magazine, on board.
She has lovely dimples that lady.
Beyond this, I found nothing remarkable about the airline. The aircrafts were clean and well maintained. You can buy some decent food at decent prices.
While I would not say that Go was a fantastic experience, I can truly tell you that there was nothing to complain about. A good fare purchased at a good price and I got everything I paid for. A few more smiles would have got this airline 4 stars.
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