Air India: ‘Goof-Ups Are Our Business’
OK, so that’s not really Air India’s motto, but if you look at the airline’s track record of blunders over the past few years – including breaking its promise to PETA and an incident in which two pilots fell asleep while they were supposed to be flying a plane – it might as well be.
Check out the following points, and we think you’ll agree:
- September 2011: The Hindu reported on Air India’s “new” approach to hire more attractive “air hostesses”. This news broke years after the entire rest of the industry had adopted the gender-neutral term “flight attendant”.
- May 2012: Officials at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York discovered that none of the more than 200 passengers aboard an Air India flight from Delhi was carrying a required immigration card. This screw-up caused a delay in airport operations and occurred two days before the airline was slapped with a US$80,000 fine for inaccurate information on its website.
- May 2012: The airline discovered 160 cases of employee theft, including stealing liquor and caviar from aircraft. The government minister remarked that malpractice runs rampant throughout the airline and includes bogus attendance records, inflated bills and false overtime claims.
- October 2012: Air India passengers complained about spending hours in an aircraft with no food, water or air-conditioning during a flight delay. The pilot sounded the hijack alarm after a tiff with passengers about the delay.
- October 2012: After a face-to-face meeting with PETA, Air India stated – in writing – that it would stop transporting animals to laboratories. Following pressure from animal experimenters, Air India backtracked and resumed shipping animals to labs to be tormented and killed in experiments.
- January 2013: A German agency ranked Air India the third-worst global airline in the world for safety.
- February 2013: More than 200 passengers were forced to wait for 24 hours at Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport after Air India failed to load their baggage on a plane. A passenger described the airline personnel as “rude”. Some passengers were forced to cancel their next travel arrangement.
- February 2013: An unannounced check at Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport found only 16 of the 25 check-in counters open, check-in times nearly three times as long as they should be, no wheelchairs provided at the gate and at least 12 officials missing from duty.
- February 2013: An Air India pilot uploaded a video onto YouTube that blasted the airline’s flight cancellations and pay. Watch the expletive-laced rap for yourself.
- May 2013: The cockpit door of an Air India plane jammed, locking out the captain, who was on a toilet break. The co-pilot was forced to make an unscheduled landing in Bhopal.
- June 2013: 120 passengers spent the night in a plane that sat on the tarmac after the pilots never showed up. One passenger was pregnant, and none of the passengers was given food. Although the air-conditioning system wasn’t working, the airline refused to open the doors or allow passengers to deplane until 3 am.
- July 2013: A 30-year-old disabled engineer with a history of polio and severe respiratory distress was forced to cancel his ticket after Air India claimed that he was late in informing them of his condition. The airline told him that he must appear at its office in person to rebook. The man took a train from Bangalore to Delhi instead.
- August 2013: Air India Flight 629 from Mumbai to Nagpur ran out of vegetarian food during Shravan – when even many non-vegetarians adhere to a vegetarian diet. One passenger received a surprise topping with his barfi – a dead fly. Coffee? Tea? Flies?
Pilots sleeping on the job, passengers denied food and water, the third-worst safety record in the industry, blatant sexism, despicable treatment of disabled customers, serving passengers insects and helping to deliver caged animals to a painful and terrifying death after promising never to do it again – would you fly Air India?