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Flying the good times

The newspapers are full of news about Kingfisher Airlines, the "King of good times" not being in such a good time right now. Makes me wonder, does Kingfisher not have enough money to even pay it's PR team? Apparently, Kingfisher has not paid its employees for the past two months, and has instead offered them a Rs. 5000 stipend to get on with basic needs.

Makes me feel lucky to have been delayed by just one day when I flew from Chandigarh to Bombay last week. This post will just be a blow by blow account of the two days.

Well, I had a flight scheduled to leave Chandigarh on Sunday, at around 1530 in the afternoon. The flight got delayed to 1730, then to 2030. When we reached the airport, we were told that the flight was cancelled because Chandigarh Airport is an IAF base, and night time civilian ops are prohibited. WOW! So, you expect me to believe that you were not aware of this when you rescheduled the flight to 2030? Well, apparently, the flight had some "technical issues", which delayed its takeoff from where ever that flight originated. So, we were given an option to take a flight out of Delhi, which was scheduled for some time in the morning.

Now, this is where things get interesting. Really interesting. While we were waiting for the person at the booking counter to change our flight, lots of things happened. For one, the media folks arrived, probably tipped off by a disgruntled PR employee of the airline in question. At the same time, the person at the counter was servicing multiple people at once (An Airbus A320 carries around a hundred people; imagine the whole load of them at the counters). So, this lady passenger who was allegedly supposed to be on the same flight as ours began speaking very politely ("Please check for alternate flights...") with the airline employee at the counter. Which strikes me a bit strange, (at the risk of sounding racist) Punjab di kudis are not exactly that polite. Especially when they wear a business suit and are supposed to reach a meeting.

Anyway, thanks to us being polite, the lady got her flights rebooked, but by that time, the flight out of Delhi was overbooked. In just 3 minutes. So, the option left was to take the evening flight out of Delhi, as the flight out of Chandigarh the next day was overbooked (by around 40 seats). Other airlines out of Chandigarh struck while the iron was hot, and demanded Rs. 25000 per person for the flight to Mumbai.

The next day, when we called up the same Kingfisher employee who rebooked our flights, he informed us that the flight out of Delhi was rescheduled to around 2330, and that as a goodwill gesture, Kingfisher had created a special flight for passengers bumped the other day. However, to accommodate these passengers, they had to bump off passengers who were scheduled to fly on Monday.

Great! So, we hurried to the airport, got our tickets changed again. Now, since this was a special flight, it was given the number 1183, instead of the usual number 3183. What's in a number; heck, we just wanted our boarding passes. Just then, we witnessed a commotion at the airport, apparently, a Jet Airways flight was cancelled. Sweet! Why does that not make headlines in the national news? Apparently, Jet can still afford to pay its PR folks.

HA HA! We have a boarding pass. We're out of this place! We go to security, to proceed to the gates. Security looks at our boarding passes, and the following conversation ensues:

1183, यह कौनसी flight है?
Madam, कल 3183 cancel हुई थी, उसके passengers के लिए यह special flight है|
(asking another security personnel) यह एक एक आठ तीन flight आज कोई special flight hai kya?
होगी, boarding pass है, तोह flight होनी चाहिए|
भरोसा नहीं है इन लोगों का| Boarding pass दे के भी flight cancel कर सकते है|
LOL! For those of you who do not understand Hindi, here's a translation:
1183, what flight is this?
Madam, this is a special flight for passengers of 3183, the flight that was cancelled yesterday.
(asking another security personnel) Is there a special flight one one eight three today?
Must be, if they have a boarding pass, then we should have the flight.
Can't trust these people. They can give a boarding pass and still cancel the flight.

Well, so we had to wait till Kingfisher officially informed security of the new flight. In that time, I found a Jet employee who looked suspiciously like the same lady who so politely spoke to the person at the Kingfisher counter. Immediately, the side of me which distrusts everyone I meet jumped into overload. Was she astroturfing the other day? Hey! That's not cool! My parents, however, were unimpressed. Why would they resort to such tactics? Why would a Jet employee help Kingfisher? You're overreacting, get over it.

Well, the story finally ends with us getting on a remarkably empty flight, reaching Bombay (Mumbai). Then I found out that the special flight was only till Mumbai, and not till Chennai as planned. The gate where the aircraft arrived had a flight scheduled to depart to Delhi. A quick calculation, and I realized that we would have come on the same aircraft had we taken the Delhi flight option. Sweet! Does Kingfisher have just one aircraft in the air right now? At least, we did not end up landing at Delhi instead of Mumbai.


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