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Some details about Air India

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This is from a passenger that tried them last December:

Date: 12/03/2004
California, USA

Me and my wife, along with 9 other passengers were stranded at Mumbai Airport. We flew in from New Delhi aboard an Air India flight (AI 746) to Mumbai where we were scheduled to board a direct flight (AI XXX) to Los Angeles, scheduled to arrive in Los Angeles on November 26th, 2004 at 1600 hours. Our flight from Delhi arrived in Mumbai 15 minutes after the scheduled departure of the connecting flight to Los Angeles. We and the other passengers were aware of the delay and were constantly asking the cabin crew if the flight from Mumbai would wait as we expected based on prior flying experiences. We are assured several times that Air India will ensure that we board the connecting flight to Los Angeles.

On arrival at Mumbai, much to our dismay, we found out that the flight had departed and there was no one to talk to us. Air India officials seeming busy but not paying attention to the stranded and confused passengers.

Hours later Air India officials informed us that it is company policy and common practice not to wait for a handful of passengers. They said that we would be able to fly to our respective destinations in the United States the next day and we would be given hotel accommodations.

This left us frustrated and it took a while for us to realize that this had actually happened. We clearly did not expect anything even close to happen.

I requested the officials on the counter including the Duty Manager Mr. V.K. Sawardeke to first clearly explain to me what had happened and the reason behind stranding us, when we had already been checked in at Delhi for the connecting flight. We even had been handed boarding passes for the flight which departed without us.

I asked the officials for the alternative and had to wait an hour before any of them would lend me an ear to see what kind of problems I had now, because Mr. Sawardeke decided not to wait for the passengers who were traveling from New Delhi on another Air India flight. Finally, I was rudely told by the Duty Manager that it is not his problem that I will not reach Los Angeles on time and miss my appointments and that he has seen people in deeper trouble than that because of this �Common Practice� of bumping passengers off flights which they are checked in on.

Frustrated and looking for alternative flight options, I requested the officials to arrange something for us the same day so that we are not delayed any further. The Duty Manager bluntly informed me that the latest flight option would be for the next day. The alternative flight assigned to us, finally, was scheduled to leave Mumbai 24 hours later than the one we were bumped off and was not a direct flight (what Air India charged me for). This alternate flight (AI 101) stops in London for two hours and then goes to New York which is another 6 hours away from Los Angeles. From New York, Air India officials claimed that, we will be flying American Airlines to Los Angeles (in the middle of Thanksgiving rush). The first port of entry would be at New York and thus we were not even sure if we were going to make any flights on time.

While the above was being dictated to us by the phenomenally rude and arrogant Duty Manager, we were not allowed to make any phone calls from the phones at the Airline counter. We needed to inform our families and friends of the forced change in our itinerary and Air India did nothing to help us out when we did not have our cell phones as we live in the United States. All this had, by now, become the worst nightmare I could ever have flying to and from my motherland. (We decided to pay extra to fly Air India to support our country�s airline and for the direct flight and right now, I am not sure what I was thinking.)

I have experienced errors made by other international airlines and I know how they make up for those errors. I was expecting an apology among other things to make the delay not so cruel. But with Air India behaving as they did, I had to call family and friends from Mumbai paying for it myself, paid for water and soda in the cheap third class, below average, scam of a hotel (Residency Hotel), dodged scammers in Airport official and airline uniform at the airport and in the hotel and was treated as I have never been in all the times I have flown.

Before we were sent to the sub-standard scam of a hotel, our passports were deposited with Immigration. (I am an Indian citizen. I should be free to roam the streets.)

I was nervous giving anyone my passport but had no choice. We were told that we could get our passports back before the flight. All we had now, were the boarding passes for the long alternate flight forced upon us by Air India. When we got to the hotel, the front desk took our boarding passes as well. This could get no worse now but I was in for more. The food served at the hotel was so bad that me and my wife are still sick from it. The chicken had only bones and it clearly showed that we were being fed leftovers from cooking boneless chicken. The hotel staff was more arrogant and rude than the Airline staff. They disabled phones in our rooms and charged us for water and anything but breathing air. I will not even start talking about the treatment other airlines give you when they make an error. I had requested Air India for what is my right after paying for a direct flight. I am so disappointed with the airline of my own country that I do not feel like traveling to India again.

Finally, the flight from Mumbai took off and after another tiring 20 or so hours we reached New York only to find that we were not booked on any flights until Sunday noon. I had, by then, lost the energy and the will to complain to anyone. The semi-cooperative staff at New York JFK Air India sent us to another rummy hotel, the Ramada Plaza, which had �special� rooms for �Airline Distress Customer� (this term is from a sign on the hotel reception counter). The room was worse than the room in Mumbai and we were shocked at the treatment Air India could give us even in the USA.

Because of our 4 day ordeal, I requested Mr. Jehangir Khan to compensate us for a cab ride home from Los Angeles Airport and he claimed that I could send him the receipt for reimbursement. I will once I get over my horrible jet lag.

Our time is valuable and this ordeal has caused us a lot of discomfort, agony, frustration and monetary losses.

I am waiting for a personalized response to this complaint from Air India, to see what they will do for us.

Amit Relia
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We decided to pay extra to fly Air India to support our country�s airline
This is his first mistake .Everybody knows Air India is a bad airlines including its crews.From outside,it looks very descent and most of the time it works but under such challenging situation they had failed in the past.
He should have avoided this route from ND to Mumbai to LA.AFAIK,they must have started this route in December itself.People should intially avoid travelling through new route.I remember,AI,started its Montreal-Delhi-Mumbai service and in just 4 or 5 months,they closed the route after its jet Kanishka was exploded in mid-air by Sikh militants near Ireland.Insufficient security was the reason.
Kishore Dandu
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I can't wait to see 'Jet Airways' start flying to US. It is already confirmed to NewYork(via paris) and Dallas/Fort.worth airport pitching for Jet to fly to Dallas by middle of this year.
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