I purchased a RT ticket on Air India from London-Delhi-Dhaka (flying onward to Bhutan with another airline). My nightmare started with my return flight when I was notified via email, the Friday night before my Monday departure, that my flight had been canceled. After many phone calls, it seems the route I had been booked on had been canceled months ago, but I was not informed until the very last minute. This was the first in a long series of problems with my return flight.
After numerous emails and phone calls, Air India eventually re-booked my flight but would not re-issue the ticket (I was told my the Air India agent in Dhaka that I would need to leave the airport and travel to the office in Dhaka to get the ticket 're-issued.' I was told this despite the fact that I did not have a Bangladeshi visa). After even more emails and phone calls, it seemed that everything was settled, the ticket seemed to have been 're-issued.' I was told by the Air India representative in Dhaka, Bangladesh, I'll refer to this person as Mr. **, that I would be booked on a flight out of Dhaka on the day I had originally planned to travel.
During the many emails and phone calls, I told Mr. ** that I that I am a US passport holder and am unable to stay in Bangladesh or India without a Visa, so the flight he had booked, with short layovers, seemed suitable. However, when I arrived in Dhaka, I was not allowed to board the flight. Over 10 different Dhaka airport staff members told me I needed an Indian Visa for this flight. I do not know if that was true or a misunderstanding, however, I was not allowed to board the flight and met another non-Indian passenger who encountered the same situation.
I faced a huge problem because there was no one at the Dhaka airport who could assist me with getting on a proper flight. I also did not have a Bangladesh cell phone, so I had no way to make contact with Air India. After several hours of trying to get on another flight, I realized I had no other option but to buy a Visa on arrival at the Dhaka airport and try to get to the Air India office in town.
The Air India agent in Dhaka, Mr. **, eventually changed my ticket to a flight the next day (20 hours later), but he refused to book me into a hotel. He said he 'had helped me enough.' This man had booked me onto a flight I was unable to board without an Indian Visa, knowing full well I am an American passport holder WITHOUT an Indian Visa. He then refused to assist me after his error caused me to be stranded in Dhaka during a violent strike. I was forced to buy a Visa in Dhaka and had to spend money on cab rides and a hotel room for the night, because of Mr. **'s error. My life was also put in danger as I was stranded in a city during a violent strike.
My fiance phoned Air India for me and told them about these issues with my flight and the agent he spoke with kindly offered to upgrade the Delhi - London leg of my flight to business class. This seemed like fair compensation. When I eventually arrived in Delhi, in transit to my London flight, I informed the guy at the check in counter that my flight should have been upgraded to business class. The agent refused to look into this and dismissed me. I asked to speak to supervisor. This man laughed at me and shook his head at me BEFORE I EVEN EXPLAINED THE SITUATION.
Once he allowed me to explain, he told me that Air India would never upgrade a customer due to this type of situation. I told him that an agent had upgraded the flight and he then lied and told me ONLY the CAPTAIN of the flight could upgrade a passenger. Clearly, the Air India supervisor in the Delhi airport has no regard for customers. This man told me a flat out lie and refused to look in the computer and see if my flight had been upgraded.
After I kept insisting that my flight really had been upgraded, he told me I needed to have something in writing in order to get the upgrade. Basically, the guy kept coming up with new lies and laughing at me until I was too exhausted to argue with him and gave up.
To add to this already awful experience, Air India 'mishandled' my checked in luggage in Delhi. When I arrived in London, I received a phone call saying the bag had been found and would be put on the next flight. I felt relieved that the nightmare was over. Unfortunately, the nightmare was far from over! It took me nearly a month of phoning Air India's baggage departments in London and Delhi, on a daily basis, in order to get the bag sent to me in London. I was hung up on and lied to, too many times to count. I was offered a mere $70 for 'emergency' clothing, which was a joke considering I am in England during the winter.
It took multiple, daily, persistent, long distance and international phone calls before I finally got in touch with one man in the baggage department in the Delhi airport who agreed to personally make sure the bag was sent. Finally it arrived. Interestingly, there was a 'RUSH' sticker on the bag dated the same date it had been found (the day I arrived in London), with all my contact and flight information on it. Clearly, they had the information needed to send the bag to the correct destination, but it must have been sitting in a smelly room somewhere (when it arrived, all the contents were inside, but everything stunk like old cigar smoke).
I would never again fly on this absolutely horrible airline and I would warn anyone traveling in or around India to avoid this airline at all costs. I have traveled to over 30 countries on a range of different airlines and this has undoubtedly been the most awful travel experience of my life!
My folks were supposed to get in their flight today from Newark to Mumbai, but I wasn't surprised when they weren't put on it as Air India is globally recognized for its incompetence. Their staff was pathetic as usual. My dad wears an artificial limb and I wish the Air India management could understand his plight, but they can't. No wheelchair assistance for the entire 3 hours we waited in the line. We were on time but the back-logged passengers from the previous day were given preference over the hundreds like us who were supposed to leave today.
The only announcement made was by the manager (who happened to scurry to a meeting when the rest of us were waiting to check in to their pathetic flight) without even getting his message on the Public Address System. So, after waiting for 2 hours, I decide to pick a soda and I miss the alert. Tough luck. I wish I could sue these morons but I don't have the time nor the desire to see them again, even in court. I tried to give this once-prestigious company a chance, but no, they simply disappoint us to no avail. Thank you Air India for ruining an entire day for us. I'm glad your company's going to dissolve. I'm sure it'll be quick if you keep going this way.
DELHI INDIA -- I and a friend were to end our trip to India with AI137 from Delhi to Frankfurt on 9/24/05. Of course there were also hundreds more passengers, Indians, Germans, Italians, Swiss and Belgian. The flight was supposed to take off at 7:30 am. After sitting in the jet a while the pilot let on that there was a problem with the brakes and he would not fly it. He announced that the plane we could see to our right would be used instead and we would continue to that one without needing to go through security again.
This never happened and it was announced that another jet was being flown in for us. This never happened. No Air India employees could provide real information on when we would really be able to take off. After sitting around 5-6 hours on the jet we were herded off to various gates a while for the brakes to be worked on. At this point a friend requested a blanket for me because I had a high fever and chills in the cold airport and was simply told NO!
At 1 pm we were again herded into a filthy bus (at least the one I was in) and to the Centaur Hotel. My room had a wet mould stain growing in one corner. At 11 PM more busloads of people arrived and we were carted back to the airport - according to AI because we had a flight at 1 AM. We boarded a plane many hours after 1 AM and this also didn't take off. The pilot still refused to fly it. (Apparently no other jets are available in Air India's entire "FLEET".)
After being shuttled around more gates we were told to collect our baggage and we would be carted back to the Centaur again. The moving of baggage made it easy for at least one of our passenger's luggage to be picked off by thieves. One of the Indian nationals got a hold of a reporter from NDTV who met us out front of the airport and we did a TV interview in hopes of making Air India ashamed enough of their behavior to provide another plane. After the interviews ran Air India became much friendlier and sent out 3 reps to Centaur to get us on Lufthansa flights. (43 hours later?)
Even this was pathetic. First these reps appeared at a desk in the lobby of the Centaur with no notification of the passengers. Those lucky enough to catch the rumor of their appearance knew of their presence. We were promised a flight out that night. Later acting on another rumor of AI employees in a room at the Centaur I went to this room and discovered to my dismay that we were NOT in fact yet booked on a flight out and needed to go through the entire process again... competing with a growing angry mob of fellow passengers.
I hope that India Tourism realizes that now there are HUNDREDS of tourists whose stories of abuse and mistreatment are going to spread and prevent others from going or returning to India. Unless Air India can redevelop at least the most BASIC of "Customer Service" structures and learn to respond to problems and attend to them (in less than two days). If this had happened due to a natural disaster or a military incident I could have some understanding. This happened due to sloppiness, stupidity, lack or organization, training and customer service skills.
It is impossible to sleep while something like this is going on so the effect on physical and mental health is enormous. Both of us lost a day of work each and were exhausted for the first day of work we were able to go to. Total delay was almost 48 hours and I am sure that no one would have done anything if we hadn't gotten on television. I wasn't disputing the pilot's decision to not fly the plane... I was questioning why an "International" airline would take 2 days to even BEGIN getting us out of the airport.
Also, why an "International" airline would continue to present the same broken plane to the same poor, tired passengers. Also, why an "International" airline would move us around without sleep for two days like a bunch of political prisoners. None of the other passengers I have spoken to could sleep during the two visits to the substandard Centaur.... both times we arrived in the afternoon and were carted back to the airport at 11 pm (1st time) and 9 pm (2nd time). Lack of information and fear of missing any information that might magically appear kept us from sleeping.
One of the most badly managed airline in this universe. The flights are very old... most probably older than me. The Air India staff try their level best to ensure that the worst service is provided to the middle eastern sectors. And don't be surprised to know that these sectors give them maximum profit.
There is a small and beautiful place named Kerala (God's Own Country) down south of Kerala. The Air India staff purposefully do harm to people from this state. 90% of flights from Calicut (CCJ) depart 2 days after the scheduled date of departure. And the civil aviation authority hasn't provided permission to any other foreign airline to operate from this airport. Very disappointing when so many foreign airlines are operation from two other airports from the same state. Very very pathetic situation.
LAX-FRA, CALIFORNIA -- I had a flight with Air India (AI) from LAX to FRA on 12/30/2006. My connecting flight with Condor to Spain was to leave about 4 hours after the scheduled arrival with AI in Frankfurt. I thought that this would be more than enough but AI decided to cancel the flight: there were only 17 passengers and the flight would have turned out unprofitable for them.
They offered me a flight with Air France via Paris and I explained that I would miss my flight to Spain with Condor. The LAX manager promised that they would send a fax to Frankfurt and take care of that. Arriving in Frankfurt there was nobody at the AI counter, Condor had not received any message from AI and I had to spend the night in Frankfurt. When I tried to get some kind of compensation for my damages, AI told me: "you were traveling on two separate tickets, we are not liable for anything."
I believed that flying with Air India would save me money but at the end I ended up paying more money for a miserable service. The ticket from LAX to FRA was $ 550,- My damages (extra ticket, hotel, taxi, food, cost of rental car that I had already paid for on 12/31) added up to over $ 400. The service on my return flight with AI was probably inspired by indian train traveling, the plane dirty, broken seats, toilet smell from my seat.... Definitely the first and the last time I used these guys.