Thursday, November 23, 2006
flying low cost-1
gone are the days when indian airlines ruled the roost.and dominated the indian skies.there are a plethora of low-cost airlines operating in the country today.air deccan,spice jet,go air,paramount and many others.this has resulted in a drop in air-fares across the board.a bonanza for many who had never dreamt of travelling by air due to its prohibitive cost.the credit for this unique and pioneering effort must go to captain gopinath of air deccan.he is committed to bring the indian skies within the reach of the common man.
having heard a lot about these low-cost aircarriers,i decided last month to travel to chennai and back by air deccan.some of my friends advised me not to indulge in such bravado.i had indeed heard reports of the regular delay in air deccan flights and their sloppy groundlevel handling.yet,to get a feel of a lowcost airline, i decided to go against the common wisdom. of course i was getting a huge kick, as i was travelling on a cheap ticket.
as expected,the flight to chennai was delayed by 2 hours.and it was a latenight flight.and the whole situation was badly managed by the air deccan staff.no announcements.and with hardly any air deccan staff on the ground it was chaos.and when they did announce the boarding, all hell broke loose.in air deccan flights there are no reserved seats.you get them on first come first serve basis.there was a mad stampede when the gate was opened and when the bus arrived to take the passengers to the aircraft.thankfully,after the passengers settled down,there was some peace.
the onboard announcement by the steward was clear and informative.the aircraft was a new leased aircraft but more seats than a normal airbus.hence very little legroom.as the passenger load factor was less you invariably had an empty seat next to you.what you don't get longitudinally you get laterally.less legroom and more elbowroom.also there is no food service on air deccan flights.though you could buy sandwiches and drinks as in low cost american carriers.like in international flights you can shop on board.the onboard staff conduct an auction of some imported items like watches,sunglasses,cufflinks,belts&purse et etc.there is a fixed minimum price and the target price is also mentioned.you can bid for your selected article at a price starting from the minimum price.i bid for the minimum price for the shades and belt purse set.and got them.
on the whole,it was not an unpleasant experience.though the delay did upset me as it was a late-night flight.would i recommend air deccan to my friends? yes,if you want to save some money and are prepared to put up with delays and the pushing and jostling.but if your family is accompanying you, you would do well to keep away from air deccan till they improve their groundlevel passenger handling and servicing.
like someone said when the yelling and pushing was going on before we boarded the flight,"after all you get what you pay".