Domestic Airlines in India: Pains and Gains

With the consistent growth in the India economy, domestic air travel has dramatically increased and competition among Airlines has become cut-throat. It is understandable given that there are plenty of new airlines and a glut of travelers. Unused to handling such high traffic, the airports around the country are struggling. The result is that over 40% of the flights are late according to a recent study. My personal experience with delays on domestic airlines in India was 100% and this includes flights on Kingfisher, Air Deccan, and Indian Airlines. In general, the travelers are not very demanding, and airline employees don’t seem particularly concerned about delays. It is common to find announcements about the departure time being made well after the previously scheduled time has come and gone. In general, a “chalta hai” mood prevails on both sides. The real concern however should be on safety standards. I noticed that several pilots on domestic flights in India were actually foreigners, a clear sign that there is a shortage of trained manpower in India in the airline sector.
Internet Booking: The good news is that there are many online booking sites that cater to domestic air travel in India. The bad news is that they are still very poorly developed. The user interface and reliability are way below the mark. After you enter your credit card number, be prepared for a blank screen! Sometimes you go through the process of completing an entire form and the “submit” button does not work! If you call their toll free number, in all likelihood, the customer service agent will hang up on you all of a sudden because (I hear) they have aggressive customer call duration metrics! Besides, they never call you back.

Positives: On the positive side, there are flights available if you wish to travel, unlike in the past where it was just Indian Airlines all the way. Day trips for business are a possibility assuming you can manage to get work done despite factoring in delays. A 1-2 flight to Bangalore, plus 2-3 hours in Bangalore traffic, plus a couple of hours of flight delays still leaves you with a few hours in the day to conduct business. When there are delays, airlines do call to inform you, though this happens quite often after you have arrived up at the airport. Kingfisher offers “really cool” check in services by airline personnel carrying a mobile device, like the car-return services in the US. A great way to cut down the lines.

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One Response to Domestic Airlines in India: Pains and Gains

  1. Anonymous says:

    There’s a great deal to be said for better airport management, not airline management.
    Heathrow airport, for instance, has an incredible 45 _seconds_ gap between flights using the runways for takeoff / landing, with one of the most complex management systemd for the aircraft waiting for airport services. These technologies are available asnd should be implemented.

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