Mumbai: AI taxis back into old habits, five days after moving to T2
It has barely been a week since Air India (AI) CMD Ashwani Lohani claimed that his airline would offer better services to its passengers after shifting its domestic operations to the international airport’s Terminal 2 (T2). However, a chaotic Tuesday morning made it seem as if the carrier is slipping into its old habits yet again. The airline had a frenzied start to the day, after one of its flights got cancelled, leaving several clueless passengers stranded.
The problems began with the cancelling of the Bangalore-bound AI 603 flight that was supposed to depart at 6.15 am. AI’s aircraft, an Airbus A320, for this particular flight had been grounded in Maldives for technical reasons, thus resulting in the shortage of one jet to ferry passengers.
The airline then decided to shift the passengers to another Bangalore-bound flight — AI 639 — that was supposed to depart at 9.15 am. Owing to this change, the AI 639 was rescheduled to depart half an hour earlier at 8.45 am. However, the airline forgot to factor in one crucial detail: increased passenger load on the aircraft.
Since they merged two sets of passengers on one flight, there was an obvious increase in the aircraft’s weight, and some passengers from both flights were left behind. Disha Tak was a passenger on AI 639. She was travelling to Bangalore for an official trip.
She said, “They (AI) told the passengers of AI 603 that their flight had been rescheduled to 8.45 am, whereas we received a call from the airline at around 4 am to inform us that our flight had been pulled ahead by half an hour. Neither of the passengers were told that they were being accommodated in one aircraft.”
She added, “This led to a lot of chaos. It was only after half an hour that a female staffer came in and informed us that the airline was ready to accommodate the leftover passengers to a Jet Airways flight that had a total of five unoccupied seats. Since most of the passengers were travelling for meetings, they chose to take another flight because the airline later said they will be accommodated in a 4.30 pm flight.” Tak had to reschedule her meetings because she couldn’t take an off on Tuesday. She later booked a Wednesday morning flight on a private airline.
Speaking to mid-day, an Air India spokesperson said, “The aircraft that was to cater to the early morning flight to Bangalore was grounded in Maldives and was thus unable to reach the city airport. The passengers on that flight were accommodated in a subsequent Air India flight.
The spillovers from the 9.15 am flight were sent to an immediate Jet Airways flight and the remaining ones were adjusted on an evening flight. The passengers who chose not to fly with us were given a refund.”