On Monday, March 28 evening, the Goa airport saw a barrage of agitated passengers, who had a lot to complain about as their SpiceJet flight kept getting delayed every hour. Every new announcement also brought news of another delay.
SpiceJet flight SG 487, scheduled to depart at 5.45 pm, for Mumbai and Kolkata was delayed by four hours. The flight remained at the airport from around 4.30 pm (boarding time) to 9.40 pm, after which it finally took off.
A front page report in this newspaper yesterday said that passengers’ ire stemmed from the fact that there were hardly any announcements made to assuage the fears of the passengers who were anticipating a much longer delay, or even smoothen ruffled feathers. Some food was given after passengers created a ruckus, and it was the airline crew that had to face the ire of passengers.
This is certainly not an isolated incident and we numerous such fights between passengers and flight crews at different times. Airlines need to up their communication with passengers as people have a duty to know what is causing delays in flights taking off. We often see airlines failing to communicate, the silence gives rise to rumours, fear, exaggeration and finally, frustration creating a chaotic scene at airports. There must also be a single channel for communication. Passengers do not know who exactly is in charge and gherao airline desks, or crew members, in their anger. This can be avoided with crisp, clear instructions at regular intervals, telling passengers to avoid panic and unnecessary conjecture. The passengers must be updated at intervals over a clear system so that they avoid rushing to desks. Systematic communication, which means clear, effective and honest messages, besides of course, apologies for the inconvenience is a must. This is all that is needed to avoid such confrontations which degenerate into ugly and sometimes potentially dangerous rows. Airlines must not take responsibility only when the passenger is in their plane, but right from the check in stage. Let them show the three C’s courtesy, class and caring, to those who fly with them.