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Air India — Flight AI 114 and AI491 (BHX to ATQ via DEL) 21 Aug and 22 Aug
I was unable to travel to the Punjab since 2019 due to the covid lock down and other commitments and was really looking forward to my Journey (BHX to ATQ via DEL) bearing in mind that TATA (who originally created Air India) took over AI operations in Jan 2022. However, I was disappointed with the experience, particularly the DEL to ATQ leg. The journey started well enough with a smooth check in and security clearance at BHX, but I was surprised that the infotainment system on Boeing Dreamliner 787 was not working, and also had limited functionality judging by what the fellow passengers were also experiencing ; This is unacceptable on a long haul flight especially when some passengers had paid over £800 for the return flight. The Air hostess service was also poor as they were more interested in having a huddle at the service area rather than see to the needs of the passengers. The airline now appear to have a disregard for the well-being of its passengers.
Upon arrival at DEL, it was absolute mayhem ; Going through immigration and security clearance "again" was an absolute nightmare... it started at the baggage collection area where there were these so called "helpers" in light pink/orange tee shirts who were off loading the baggage from the belt without the knowledge of the passengers. After a while there was a heap of bags on the floor next to the baggage belt and people were just wandering around like sheep trying to find their bags. It took me 45 minutes to collect my bags which is unacceptable when the flight transfer was 1 hr 50m considering the time it takes for check in and security clearance. Anyway, I managed to make my way to check in to find a long que and the "helpers" asking to see passenger passports ; I thought this was strange but managed to get to the check in desk after about 30 mins in the que. The "helper" followed me all the way to the check in desk and said to me that the duty free I had bought at BHX was not in a sealed bag & would not get through security and made me open my hold luggage and asked to put the duty free in the bag whilst also having a look inside the bag. I knew this was nonsense but due to the time pressure put on me by the "helper" and check in staff, I complied with their request and bags were eventually checked in, and the "helper" then kept re-assuring me that he was there to help me ... etc and decided to accompany me to the departure gate which was a good 20 minute brisk walk from check in area. While making our way to the departure gate he started hustling me for a tip, and when I offered him 100Rps he got a bit offended and insisted on 500Rps but I stuck to my guns and eventually made it to the departure gate and just made the flight. Upon arrival at ATQ, I found out that one of my bags had been left behind in DEL... lo behold it was the same bag that I was told to open at DEL check in, and it took AI over 7 days to eventually deliver the bag to my Punjab address. When I opened the bag (which had a travel lock on it), I found some of my electrical goods were missing !(approx. £190 in value) !!! Reflecting back on the experience, it would appear that the so called "helpers" at DEL are in fact "HUSTLERS" who are in collusion with others (possibly AI check in and security staff) based on them targeting foreign passengers (e.g. looking at the passengers passport while in check area... etc). The return flight from ATQ to BHX (via DEL) was good because it avoided the check in process at DEL but poor because once again the information system was not working on the relatively modern Boeing Dreamliner 787 !!! I also enquired with DEL security desk whether or not I would be able to recover my electrical goods that were taken out of my bag on 22 Aug ... I was not surprised that the security staff were not very helpful !!!
I remember the period when AI (under government ownership) first started offering flights from the UK to ATQ (about 8 to 10 years ago) and that was not a pleasant experience either because of the stop over at DEL ; However, the quality of service and passenger satisfaction gradually improved over the years when they stopped disembarking the passengers at DEL who were heading for ATQ, suffice to say that the last couple of trips I made to ATQ before the lock down were a very pleasant experience. Furthermore, why is the cost of the direct flights to ATQ significantly more (hundreds of pounds) than those to DEL considering ATQ is a shorter distance from the UK, hence less fuel required ?
It has taken me a while to decide whether or not to offer the feedback, and I eventually took the decision based on the fact that the private sector always strives to achieve excellence, and that the customer is King ; If TATA are serious about making AI the best in the sector, they should take immediate action to rectify the shortcomings in the quality of service and the maintenance requirements of their fleet, otherwise they will start losing customers "en masse" to their competitors.
I look forward to receiving a response from you soon.
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