When you speak to Indian-Americans about Air India, they usually grimace. This is because, they remember like we do, how awful Air India used to be. The service on air was usually good and friendly. But the facilities on the ground were bad and the attitude of the ground staff was awful. You got the feeling that they simply did not care. It was after all Government Service.
Last October, I flew the new nonstop Air India flight from New York to Mumbai. I was blown away by that experience. So I wrote a glowing article titled Best Long Flight I Have Ever Taken – 10 “WoW”s. It seems my experience was not unique. Feedback from readers and their friends supported my conclusions.
Unfortunately, Air India seems to have reverted to its past behavior. At least, as we hear, the New York management of Air India has.
Air India is going through financial difficulties. Air India management put through compensation cuts and Air India pilots went on strike a week or so ago. While the strike reportedly ended this week, some Air India flights were canceled. This is sort of force majeure and we get it. Any air traveler in North America has had a bad experience or two. It goes with the territory these days.
This episode has been a blow to the image of Air India in America. So we would have thought that the New York Management of Air India would go into high gear to be courteous to passengers and do everything they could to minimize passenger hardship.
Based on what we hear, Air India Management in New York did not do so. In fact, they seemed to have behaved in the typical do not care manner associated with Indian Government babus or civil servants. From what we hear, Air India New York did not reach out to passengers over the phone to assure them. No one from Air India Senior Management in New York bothered to show up at JFK to lend a hand or to apologize to passengers for their discomfort. The Air India New York Station chief, the Air India New York Sales Manager, the Air India New York Marketing Manager, people responsible for the success of Air India in New York, – none of these people cared to show up at JFK airport to make sure things were running smoothly.
Neither did they make any additional arrangements at JFK to take care of passengers that might have had their earlier flights canceled. This is the New York Air India management of old, arrogantly content to sit in their executive offices while their passengers and staff face difficulties. This is not customer service, this is pure babu-giri as it is called in India.
We have written what we have heard. But there may be another side to this story, the Air India Management side. In the tradition of our blog, we invite the New York management of Air India or their spokespeople to tell us their side. We will print it verbatim.
We bear no ill will towards Air India or thousands of its employees. But, we owe to it to our readers to tell them about the unpleasant story about Air India New York, especially when we told them about the good story about Air India so effusively last October.
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