Friday, November 2, 2007

Bunking with a capital B

Had been busy the last week- had to go to Mumbai to meet the rest of the team, who were incidnetally having their quarterly review meeting. Boy! This was one review meeting where I was totally chilled out. No targets unmet yet, you see. *broad smile*

And while this post is on something else, I just have to mention this in passing. Mumbai is so pulsingly ALIVE. There is no other word that fits. Everybody is as busy as a bee and the city hums with activity. Even the bystander's is no aimless idle standing, but purposeful waiting, with eyes alert and constantly darting around. Mumbai is vibrant, on-the-move, vivacious, welcoming, helpful. Tho' I have been there earlier, most of my days were spent within the confines of office, guest house, hotel, etc, with only commuting time being spent outside, and that, concentrating more on colleagues, friends, family.
But this time, we spent a whole day outside, on the streets, observing, and what I noticed about the people of Mumbai was that it was so warm and alive. Salaam Mumbai indeed!

Now coming to the subject of my post.
Why do Indian airhostesses look so drab? I flew Indian while coming back, and at the airport and on the flight, I saw just about a couple who looked somewhat like what air hostesses are supposed to look like. And I don't mean in looks alone, I mean more in their demeanour and the way they carry themselves...
There was NOTHING pleasant, warm and friendly about most of them. More than 60% of the ones I saw looked like middle aged housewives. And while there are plenty of middle aged housewives who are smart, these were nowhere even close. They had unsightly bulges showing flagrantly, the sari (which is such an elegant, graceful attire) was draped totally tastelessly, and their hair was done terribly and they had tonnes of make-up, and they looked such total frumps. No smiles while dealing with you at the check-in counters, no greetings either for a nice safe flight, and on the flight too, the air hostesses looked totally putting off. No warm smiles, just perfunctory lip stretches and one of them had a perpetual grimace on her face. I asked one of them for extra sugar, and she handed it over to me with a look that totally conveyed that this was not what she would like to be doing.
So what was she doing there?

I flew Jet while going out, and they were so professional in their attitude. Yes, they too are there doing a job. But the way in which they approach it made such a difference. They were courteous to the core. You don't have to wear trousers or mini skirts to look smart and appealing.(But having said that, yes, the Kingfisher gals look SEXY, that colour alone is so riveting) And you don't so need to be young either. I have seen senior people in the banking and hospitality sectors who are dressed neatly, and carry themselves so well. So what is it with the Indian air hostesses? Are they underpaid and disgruntled? Whatever it is, I think the management needs to make an effort to get them all spruced up. Coming from a country which has beauty queens, and wearing an attire which has been named by some as the sexiest ever, the gals from the national airline presented a frumpy picture. Sad.

And this took the cake. My flight was at 8.55 last nite. For once in a blue moon ( Hubby always jokes that when I am on time, things invariably go wrong.., and he was proved right) I was there at the airport VERY early- more than an hour before the flight. And I sat down to wait.

8 pm - no announcement
Ditto for 8.15pm, 8.30pm, 8.45pm.

Come 8.55pm, we were all waiting still and looking enquiringly at each other.

By 9.15pm, a sense of camaraderie had developed among some of us, as we started making guesses as to what could have happened. But still nothing from the side of Indian staff.

By 9.30pm, people seated started getting up to stretch their legs, and people walking around started sitting down to rest their legs. But still no announcement.

By 9.55pm, irritated outbursts could be heard from certain quarters of the sitting area. Still no news from Indian.

After 10pm, slowly the door towards the boarding area opened, and a harassed looking steward and a looking sorry-for-herself airhostess came into the lounge. And the steward mumbled something only the people sitting in the first row could catch. But whatever he said had all of them leaping to their feet and rushing across to him. And then, a collective uproar of disbelief and anger rose from the crowd. Which had more people rushing to join the tamasha.

The reason the flight had been delayed was- the co-pilot was not to be found!
He had gone home! Said good bye and good nite for the day.

Leaving all of us passengers feeling very sleepy, and angry, in the lounge. I don't know the exact details- obviously the nitty gritties were not revealed even though a couple of irate passengers were wanting the name of the happy-go-lucky-guy who had gone AWOL.

Apparently they had been trying to trace him (from 8.55?) and had found that he had gone home. And then they were trying to find another pilot who would take on his job. But they were not succesful till after 10pm. Till which time, they kept mum and kept us all not knowing whether we would reach home that nite or not.

So finally for a flight which was scheduled to leave at 8.55, all of us boarded at 10.30. Bah!
I am all for Be Indian, Buy Indian. But fly Indian? Not without some second thinking now.


Fuzzylogic said...

That's sad that you had to deal with the unnecessary flight delay. It's sad but true that the service on Air India sucks and the stewardesses are always sulking. And even international flights are equally bad. One stewardess even snapped out rudely at a old woman who was travelling alone for the first time and asked for some assistance. I was appaled and I no longer prefer to fly in air india now. Jet is far better.
You are so right about the kingfisher girls!And they were really helpful too when i flew alone with Ina this time in India.

WhatsInAName said...

"no aimless idle standing, but purposeful waiting, with eyes alert and constantly darting around."
This rings a bell :P

So you like Kingfisher dress code... is it something to do with the colour :D

Alright, bad that you had such a bad experience with Indian Airlines. Will keep in mind next time I fly!

Lavs said...

i totally totally agree with you. I wish our government bucks up and starts improving airline sector else they are bound to be eaten up by private airlines. And we are paying money for all the loses which indian is making.

Orchid said...

hello..first time here, i think we travelled Jet the last time we were in India and it was quite alright although their ground staff yeah second thinking may not be a bad idea at all

Daisy said...

you know wat? I had a similar experience with IA as well. I was flying from US to India via Singapore. My bad fate-- I had booked an IA flight form Singapore.The flight was delayed for 7 hrs!! Can you top that?and yeah, we had no clue until about 1 hr after our original departure time, that our flight was delayed- the reason?the flight door was broken! and I had a connecting flight from chennai , which was also IA, which I missed because of this mess from Sing.. the airlines personnel promised that they will work out something for those of us with connecting flight- on landing in Chennai-NOTHING! not even refund for my missed flight.. i spend my own money and bought a deccan flight ticket to my final destination.. bah! I am never flying IA again.

dame's diary said...

Your post is a true representation of 'The good, bad and the ugly India' !!

Usha said...

I did not realise that Indian had got this bad - in the times I knew them, they were at least very efficient in handling delays.
Well, their hostesses have always been pathetic and pretty hostile. And they say that there is a strict weight limit for them - they do not even allow 100gms more than the permitted weight. I wionder what the permitted weight is - 100 kgs?
so then you must have arrived here well past midnight..Travel isn't fun at all in India.

rayshma said...

prolly d first time i heard smthng like this abt an airline which wasn't air deccan! lol!! yes, Indian could do well with being more professional!
i love KF... i think they not only look good, but they're also very professional. and i DO love d food there as well! :D

choxbox said...

totally agree about the spirit of mumbai. its an incredible city.

i used to travel a lot when i worked and flew indian (indian airlines then) - always found them pretty good. maybe things have changed now? or maybe i dont notice - esply after travelling with British Airways. you should check their cabin crew - no one can beat them in the grumpiness factor!

aargee said...

Thats funny about absconding..hahaha..they didn't have any other reason to say. Good that they didn't say,they forgot about the flight.
Like you say, I too like Jet airways very much.They are quite good, frankly, I like the food they offer :)