A nightmare that was….

As this is my first blog of 2016, let’s begin with positives and hopefully there will be loads of positivity all through the year.

First of all wishing you all a peaceful, happy and healthy 2016!

Oh yeah, congrats to me on completing a quarter century in blogging!!!!!

Back to my topic for today….

Trying hard to find some positives about Air India and I would definitely say that it is one of the few airlines that serves hot coffee and cold drinking water, probably the only one and it’s food is not bad either.

…and we are back in one piece and that is something.

Normally, we do not travel to India at Christmas time for various reasons.

….. Though I do not live in my motherland, nobody dare say anything against it…..if I hear anything, my “antlers” go up. When a friend criticised Air India, which is the “national carrier” of India, I was deeply offended….I did’nt say anything but I was thinking, it is definitely better than your national carrier……blah, blah, blah…..

On the day, we went to the airport and had a smooth check-in and went through security…..so far so good…..flight was scheduled for 20.10, 20.10 came and went. It just said “delayed” on the electronic board. No other information or communication……

All other flights had departed for the day and we were the only passengers left in the lounge. I should mention here that the passengers were so very patient.

To cut a long story short, (for it is going to be a long rant) ultimately, they announced boarding nearly at 10pm. All the passengers got on to the aircraft, excited to be leaving at last. Brilliant.

Settled on the plane and another hour went by. Then I spied the airhostess coming round with the drinks trolley. Alarm bells started ringing in my head. I am weird that way….I can sense these things. I told my husband, something is not right…

……well, the drinks trolley had not quite reached us when the captain came on the public address system and announced that the plane was grounded until further notice. No apologies or anything.

We were asked to wait in the baggage claim area and that an Air India member of staff would be with us soon. Everybody was tense by now as we had no information as to what was happening with the flight or us.

Eventually an Air India employee asked us to queue at their ticketing counter. So, all of rushed there. Thanks to my older one’s alertness, we were first in the queue. We were offered a hotel room for the night but we preferred to go home. They asked us to be back by 14.00hrs (2.00pm) the next day. We returned home by taxi and by the time we settled in it was 01.00hrs.

I started calling Air India quite early the next morning, thanks to my experience in the past. I will not go in to the details here.

Here comes the best part:

I called the Air India customer service hot line. The voice at the other end tried to convince me that I had already landed in Delhi. Believe me, it was a tough task trying to convince him that I was still in Birmingham. Need I say more?!

My next “port of call” was the Air India Birmingham office. Luckily, the “manager” answered the phone almost immediately. He advised me to come to to the airport at 16.00hrs. The damaged part and the engineer were being flown in from Delhi on that day’s scheduled Air India flight. I enquired if 16.00 would be an appropriate check-in time as the scheduled Air India flight did’nt land until 17.15hrs that day. Still he insisted and I agreed.

I kept in touch with the ground staff all day just in case the situation changed. Anyway, a dear friend dropped us off at the airport. We went in to find a huge queue ahead of us. All the passengers from the hotel were back and were already in the queue. Will come back to their plight later.

Although I am struggling to find positives, here is another. The customer service rep at the Air India counter was brilliant. My husband put in a request to be checked in without the queue given the condition of my younger one. In spite of being extremely busy and harassed, he helped us to check in as early as possible. I must mention here that our fellow passengers were very gracious about it as well. So, we were checked in around 18.30.By then the aircraft had been fixed as well.

However, there was a problem with the check-in system and by the time the last passenger was checked in it was 23.30. Can you imagine standing in the queue from 16.00 and getting checked in at 23,30. My respect for my fellow Indians doubled and trippled that evening. Not a moan or “uff”. They were so patient. I should mention here that the main flaw with Ait India is operational in nature. You cannot blame the staff. I will sum up the pros and cons later.

Once the flight eventually took off at 23.30hrs on 20.12.15, after a delay of 28 hours, it was pleasant enough, that is until we reached Delhi.

I am going to give you a little respite and shall continue with the “Delhi chapter” later. Until then…….

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