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The Nodal Officer Complaints 02 Sept 2023
Subject: PERFECT CATTLE CLASS EXPERIENCE ON AI 173 AND 174
I travelled from Delhi to San Francisco on AI 173 on 5th April 2023 and returned on AI 174 on 14th July 2023. (Boarding cards attached).
I wish to bring to your notice the harrowing experience I had on both the flights, more so on AI 174 from San Francisco to Delhi.
I paid Rs 1.52 lakhs for my ticket to Delhi to SFO as I had to leave urgently due to a family emergency. I was allotted Seat No 36A in the Economy section. The tray table was broken and anything kept on it would slide off. The food served was cold and insipid. No action was taken by the crew to deal with the situation. I gave my feedback to the airline on line.
The return journey was a nightmare. The ordeal started from the check in stage itself. I was greeted by a shabbily dressed usher who was wearing an oversized dress two sizes bigger for her! At the counter we were made to wait for over 10 minutes as the lady there was busy training a new recruit while the passengers waited. Our request to change our seats (I was travelling with my sister Mrs Indira Kumar. Both o[censored]s are senior citizens) was casually brushed aside.
We occupied our assigned seats (No 41 B and 41 C). I was occupying 41B as my sister wanted easy access to the washroom. To our horror we saw that the side of the hand rest between our seats was taped crudely to hold it in place. (Pics attached). My tray table was broken. I had to support it with my knees to avoid things from falling on me. As you are aware SFO- DEL is a 15.30-hour nonstop flight. Entertainment is an important facility on such flights. To my utter dismay my TV screen was nonfunctional. The earphone jack had a single pin while the socket had provisions for two pins one of which had been. crudely blocked with probably M- seal!!!
I tried to call the stewardess to seek her assistance only to realize that the call button and the reading lights were both nonfunctional!! I managed to attract the attention of one of the passing stewardesses and informed her of the problems and requested a seat change. There were three seats at the end of the aircraft next to our row which were labelled “CREW SEATS” in red. (Reminded one of the truck cabins) I requested if I could occupy one of them. She said the TV would reboot once we took off and nothing could be done about other issues as despite reporting many times and no action was taken by the concerned staff. She brushed aside my request for seat change.
The stewardess deputed in our section was particularly rude and most unhelpful. The luggage bin for my sister’s seat was already full when we boarded. My sister shifted the luggage already kept there to the next bin and placed her bag in the allotted bin. The stewardess deputed in our section came running and rudely asked my sister why she had shifted the luggage. It was HER luggage which she had kept in the space meant for the passengers. I noticed that she was not wearing her name tab or had cleverly concealed it under her scarf so that no one could know her name. The only stewardess whose name tab could be read was one Ms Aparna who tried to help but could not as nothing worked.
I spent 15 hours 30 minutes looking at a blank screen. However, I realised that there were several others sharing my plight.
The PA system of the aircraft was as pathetic as the other systems. One could barely comprehend what was being said.
Food served was unique! We have aloo chat with Pasta and dinner rolls with subzi!! The stewardess in our section did not bother to offer us any water or beverages during the flight. She placed packets of roasted corn and beverages in the galley instead. The passengers were expected to go there and help themselves!! When I could attract her attention on one of her rare visits in our section (she could not be requested as the call button did not work) and requested for some water she brusquely told me that I should help myself like others!!
Even when the flight was at the airport in SFO, the toilet did not have proper tissues. Some napkins had been dumped there. During the flight the soap was replenished by adding water to it!!!
To rub salt in our wounds the three crew seats which were denied to us were not occupied by any crew member throughout the flight. Instead, a lady lay on them (perhaps a relative of one of the staff) and read magazines using her mobile flash light throughout the flight. Even her reading light was not working. (Reminded me of the truck cabin again)
Needless to say, our experience with airline was most distressing and unpleasant. What really was most disappointing was the unprofessional conduct and unhelpful attitude of the crew and the appalling condition of the aircraft. I wonder how it was considered fit for flying with duct tape being used to hold things together, lights, PA, TVs not working and tables falling apart on a 16-hour nonstop flight!! So many defective electrical and electronic systems could cause short circuiting or overload jeopardising the lives of hundreds of passengers on board. The fact that no remedial action was taken even after being pointed out by the crew and passengers (I noticed the same conditions during both my trips spread over 4 months) raises serious concerns about the airline’s passenger safety standards. It would perhaps been acceptable when the airline was Government owned as such unprofessionalism was typical of the ‘chalta hai’ attitude which the airline epitomised during that phase.
All in all, the airline lived up to its reputation of providing a perfect CATTLE CLASS experience to me and fellow passengers!!
My sister renewed her vow NEVER to travel by AI in future after going through this harrowing experience.
I may not have brought all this to your notice had the airline not being taken over by TATAs. I am a staunch admirer of the brand and what it stands for. I was disappointed that things continued to be the same as they were before the takeover. I can understand that it will take time to improve things but if such staff and unprofessionalism continues, not only will the brand name be tarnished but it will make it very difficult to convince passengers to patronise it even if things improve with time.
I hope my concerns will be viewed in the right spirit and I would be compensated for non-provision of the services for which I had paid.
Surendra K Sharma
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