Tuesday, August 26, 2008

State Run Vs Private Enterprise

This summer I was in India. I made my travel plans through makemytrip.com and made it very clear while booking my tickets that I was Vegetarian and would like to be served Vegetarian meals on board. My flight out to India was United Airlines to Kuwait and Kuwait Airlines to Hyderabad and my flight back was Indian Airlines (or whatever they call it now) to Kuwait and United Airlines from Kuwait. My flight out was pretty uneventful. My return flight was very significant. It was a night flight to Kuwait from Hyderabad, through Indian Airlines or whatever it is called now, and I was tired and trying to sleep and was woken up repeatedly by the cabin attendant cause he wanted to serve me food. Not only was I woken up, I was asked if I wanted non-vegetarian food, despite my dietary request at the time of ticket booking, and I was served a meal with chicken in it. I had almost eaten a third of my meal before I noticed the pieces of chicken in it and was very upset. When I pointed it out to the cabin attendant, all they could do was apologize. I was really furious with them and asked the lady to leave me alone. I think the attendants do not understand English, cause in spite of my repeated requests to be left alone, she kept nagging me asking me if I wanted something else to eat. I am terribly disappointed with Indian Airlines (not that I had too high expectations form them to begin with). The next leg of my journey through United from Kuwait to Dulles was comfortable even though I had the window seat and it was a 14 hour non-stop flight. My meals were not only vegetarian, they came with a special sign that said it was specially prepared for me based on my requests at the time of flight booking. Also, I fell asleep before their first meal service and no one woke me up to serve me food. I just asked for my meal when I woke up. 
The contrasts are stark. Customer comfort seems to be at the low end of the totem pole with Indian Airlines. That is understandable. Who are they accountable to? It is no wonder that service is seriously lacking. It was also clear with their occupancy. The flight was pretty much empty. 

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