Air India / lost baby push chair and cancellations
Note: This is a real story of our experiences with an airline which we beleive is the worse Airline in the world!
Facts: Story of a misplaced baby push chair and flight cancellation surprises
By: B S Walia - Unhappy Air India passenger!
19th June 2008 - Hemel Hempstead, UK
We were looking forward to our holidays to India as my brother was getting married during September 2008 in Bangalore, India. I was also excited as I'll be seeing my mum and rest of the family in India after good 4-5 years. We booked out flights via a travel agent and confirmed everything was ok months prior to flying. We booked and double checked our flight schedule and we were suppose to fly to Bangalore on 3rd Sept 2008 and return back to London on 19th Sept 2008.
We decided to fly with Air India because we wanted to fly back to London from Amritsar instead of Bangalore and Air India seemed be providing the flexible Air Travel to and from major cities within India.
26 August 2008 - London to Bangalore flight cancelled - 1st Surprise
Air India flight from London to Bangalore scheduled for 3rd Sept. had been cancelled. We understand flights get cancelled and we have to reasonable. But point is Air India neither informed us nor did they did Dialaflight - our travel agents. Dialaflight agent called us to inform us that there is a possible problem with your flight to Bangalore on 3rd so you should contact Air India and find out more about it. As Air India has taken over the booking already being so close to the flight date and time, Dialaflight were able to do much about it even if they were willing to help. Kindly enough the agent tried to sort the booking out but their system was not able to get response back from Air India's state of the art computer system.
In the meanwhile I have had many problems trying to print my booking confirmation from Air India website - www.airindia.in. In fact there website was not even working and every time we tried to fetch our booking website crashed. We called the Air India helpdesk and they have had the same problem. So I couldn't print the booking and e-ticket and was advised to get it from the Heathrow Airport prior to flying later on when I was on the phone with Air India.
We called Air India and asked what was going on with the flight on 3rd Sept.? Got an answer there is a problem with the flight on 3rd Sept. so you will have to travel some other day. Other available travel dates were offered. We would want to travel on that very day because it would require too many re-arrangements to fly on any other day. Work holidays, appointments, kids nursery holidays and commitments made earlier - everything will be effected. Air India could only offer us to fly on 6th Sept. As it didn't workout for us to fly on that day Air India operator said you can cancel your booking. We were surprised we booked our flights months ago and confirmed and now it is so close if we cancel the booking and find other flights it may cost lot more and we might not even get flights that early. Reluctantly we requested to talk to a duty manager but had no luck. Manager did manage to book us on a flight scheduled at 1st Sept. from London to Bangalore via Mumbai. We didn't have much choice called our work and everyone else and re-arranged everything reluctantly.
We also asked the Air India representative over the phone if we could take the push chair with us in the aeroplane as our baby is not guaranteed to get a baby basket. She may have to sit in the lap during the flight - Boy, have you got kids? Then you know what it is like. Anyway we were told “Yes” you can take the baby push chair in the aeroplane.
We got the information at the last minute and re-scheduled our travel dates that created it's own problems - I don't have time to explain them here right now.
Point is Air India did not inform us of any problems, It's because of Dialaflight agent we figured out that there is a problem.
We understand there is no perfect Airline in the world but if there is a problem, Airline is obliged to act on it and solve the issue soon.
Air India just ignored our complaints and queries for ages.
Air India staff over the phone has no idea what customer service means, they were rude to us and very incompetent in resolving customer issues.
Air India staff doesn't know what are the standard procedures to resolve any issue, they don't even know what to say to customers. They didn't even listen to us properly and were not able to understand our situation.
1st September 2008 - 2nd Surprise
We went to Air India counter at Heathrow Airport and asked for a printout of my booking as I was unable to print from their website. We had a booking confirmation from Dialaflight. They printed the booking and found another problem. Our return flight was not showing on the booking in their system. Obviously I was not happy so I requested them to check it again and book return flight again. They said they can't do anything apparently. I was told when you are in India you can call Air India office and they will sort it out. We will come to know while in Bangalore that Air India doesn't fly from Amritsar and booking they have taken and confirmed months ago has been deleted. Air India flights are not originating from Amritsar and we have to fly from New Delhi instead. Amritsar to Delhi is about 550kms. That means me and my kids will miss the opportunity to see Golden Temple, Amritsar as per our plans. My wife won't be able to see her family and friends in Amritsar area. Nice, more about this when we get to Bangalore.
Check-in at Heathrow Airport, London - 3rd Surprise
We are at Air India check-in counter and about to take our flight and there was a problem with the check-in system. Agents were not able to print baggage tags. We have to wait and flight was delayed because of it. Apparently I heard someone saying they have upgraded to a new version of the system, which is not tested enough so no wonder there are problems. Great, that is the last thing we needed. Right. Wrong - we have had to deal with lot more problems - keep tuned in.
As mentioned earlier we called Air India few weeks prior to boarding the flight and asked whether it was possible to take the baby pushchair with us in the Aircraft. We were told yes we could take the pushchair with us in the Aircraft.
However just before we were about to board the Aircraft, we were advised that we couldn't take the pushchair in the Aircraft. The pushchair was taken from us and tagged by the flight staff on duty. We were advised to collect the pushchair at the Bangalore Airport. Please note we were not given the copy of the tag.
Reluctantly, we flew with Air India to Bangalore via Mumbai from London on 1st September 2008. Flight was delayed due to check computer errors so at Mumbai Airport we had to transist to Bangalore flight very quickly as Bangalore flight was boarding when we landed.
I asked a Air India staff the at the Mumbai Airport about the pushchair from Air India staff. I got a reply, "Don't worry about the pushchair and you should get it at Bangalore Airport in the same flight or next flight".
Reached Bangalore - 4th Surprise
When we reached Bangalore and found out the pushchair was missing - Great!. We made a complaint about it but after weeks and weeks of chasing there is no trace of the pushchair so far. Worse thing was Air India has shown no courtesy to call us and tell what was going on. Chasing up Air India from Bangalore apartment where stayed over the phone turned out very expensive. I made nearly Rs. 5000/- worth of phone calls to track down our push chair and trying to sort out our return flight. I have had to call Bombay Air India office as calling other offices kept making excuses - today is Ganpati day so we can't help you. Some Air India agents different numbers to call and if I call that number I was advised call another number.
I have made Rs. 5000/- worth of phone calls trying to track our pushchair but at most occasions Air India call centre was unable to resolve our queries properly. They did not seem to be aware of the correct procedures to be followed in case of missing luggage/property. They were rude. Someone said you can take a taxi from Amritsar to Delhi. Taxi from Amritsar to Delhi will atleast take 11-12 hrs. and travelling in taxi with kids was not a great idea. I resisted an requested to get a connecting flight Air India. Eventually call centre from Bombay said go to Air India Office in person and they wil help you.
I went to Air India office and manager was not available to help me so I was advised to come back on another day. I went to the office at the next opportunity and requested for a connecting flight from Amritsar to Delhi. A lady did try to help me but there was no connecting flights available on that day. Either we had to leave too early and spend days at New Delhi before getting flight back to London. Only choice was left to travel from Amritsar to Delhi by taxi. I got them write me a letter of Authorisation "To reimburse the taxi fare from Amritsar to Delhi". Please see attached copy of the letter below.
Please also see attached copy of the complaint made to Air India Luggage handling staff. It clearly says I customer not holding tag. But my argument is we were not given any tag. Air India staff has not followed the procedures at the time pushchair was taken from us.
Air India has the worse customer service and I would not recommend it to anyone. I am writing this story so that others can be made aware of Air India has a worse customer service before you decide to fly with them.
I do have insurance but of no use because Air India have not responded
My insurance company were ready to compensate but we needed a proof for the claim from Air India. Air India have not provided us with any information and we have had 31 days to make insurance claim. So we are without a push chair and have not been reimbursed for the taxi fare from Amritsar to New Delhi. So it is fair to say "Air India is once of the worst Air lines in the World."
29 Oct. 2008
We have had no response from Air India except the same story "We are looking into this matter". When we were at Bangalore made complaint they suggested to take the matter to Air India Office in London. And London office has referred the matter to Bangalore Office. Going in circles.
Since we have come back we have send letters to Air India and made several complaints but have had no outcome. In fact now the Air India staff here in London office have started to put the phone down on us. Mr. Prashant so called manager has told me several times I am very uncivilized so he is not interested to talk to me.
Air India staff have put the phone down on us many times. My wife is really upset and it is hard to believe a genuine customer with a problem have to face this attitude.
I spoke to Dialaflight agent as well and he said his boss was also fuming on the phone while we were away in India and he was getting no where. He also suggested to me next time pay extra money but fly with better Airline. Lesson learnt - Air India is a the worst company to deal with.
Note: Air India is the first Airline to be highlighted on worseairlines.com, In fact I have registered this domain just because of the above incidents. Me and wife spend so much time chasing up for the these issues to be resolved and it very frustrating. It is very embarrasing for me being an Indian and shameful for me that my country's Airline is one of the worst Air line in the world. In my experience anyway...
Air India Baggage handling department in London, Bangalore and Mumbai were really incompetent in their jobs. Every time we called them they tell you different story. For example one person on the other end will say you can have refund and next one will say you can't have refund. They are not aware of the standard procedures to follow in case of a customer query or issue. We want world to know about Air India and our experience with Air India. How long does it take to find out whether missing luggage is in Bangalore or Mumbai? If not compensate it and close the call.
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