Airlines’ loot exposed: Parliament report says long queues created to delay check-in, staff lack training

New Delhi, January 15, 2018: The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport on Thursday tabled a report in Rajya Sabha regarding the issues related to improving consumers satisfaction of airlines.

The report slammed various airlines for not efficiently manning check-in counters and creating artificial situations to deny boarding to confirmed ticket holders.

In a strongly-worded report, the Committee condemned the recent incident when a passenger was manhandled by IndiGo staff, adding that airlines need to become passenger friendly and its staff should learn to say “please” and “Thank you”.

Airlines should offer better quality food as well as change menus periodically, further suggested the report.

In the 26-page report – “Issues related to improving consumers’ satisfaction of airlines”, the Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture said: “The check-in process and collection of luggage are cumbersome and time-consuming. What the passenger wants is a quick check-in, without long queues and a smooth process of security check.”

Despite the huge claims of airlines regarding the check-in process, the Committee is compelled to observe that the check-in counters are in a mess, especially those of the low-cost airlines such as IndiGo.”

It also said: “The Committee has noticed reports of some private airlines creating long queues at the check-in counters to delay the process of check-in so that passengers miss their scheduled flights. This compels them to buy tickets at exorbitant prices to travel on the next available flight.”

The Committee said the airlines are overbooking flights and creating later, “artificial situations to deny boarding to the confirmed ticket holders. Many a time, it has been noticed that adequate number of personnel are not posted to man the check-in counters.”

It recommended that arrangements be made to ensure that the passenger does not spend more than 10 minutes in a queue at the check-in counter to get a boarding pass according to timesnownews .

“Whenever there is a rush of passengers, additional staff should be deputed at the check-in counters. AAI and the other airport operators may provide an adequate number of check-in counters and self-checking kiosks at the airports.”

Taking note of the recent incident when a passenger was manhandled by IndiGo staff, the Committee said that “recently there were many incidents of manhandling, discourteous and rude behaviour by airlines staff, both ground staff and cabin crew.”

“Some of them were reported in the media and a large number of them went unreported. While narrating some of the incidents of misbehaviour in airlines, especially in IndiGo, the majority of the members opined that the attitude of airlines staff is very condescending, often uncooperative and on many occasions, downright rude.”

The report was prepared after consulting with Civil Aviation officials and various industry stakeholders.

According to timesnownews the Committee said that merely taking strictest action against the employees does not absolve the airline of its guilt of the incident.

“The Committee observes that the problems affecting the airlines are not personal; it is institutional. An institution like IndiGo has to develop a consumer-friendly approach in dealing with their passengers. The Committee believes that being a leader in market share, Indigo needs to look inward and find out the reasons for the discourteous attitude and rude and indifferent behaviour of their employees, whether it is their cabin crew or the ground staff. The Committee emphasizes that the arrogant behaviour of employees should stop.”

The Committee had detailed interaction with the CEOs of various airlines on various training imparted to different categories of officials and employees.

The Members of the Committee unanimously emphasised upon the need for providing proper training to the airlines’ staff, especially on soft skills and passenger handling.

“The crew should be trained to be more polite than saying ‘please’ or ‘thank you’. The passengers expect a civilised behaviour from the cabin crew and the ground staff as the salaries to the cabin crew and ground staff are paid from the income earned from the passengers,” the report added.

The report also suggested that airlines should offer better quality food as well as change menus periodically.

It also flayed IndiGo for not providing food to diabetic passengers.

“Many Members of the Committee pointed out the need to ensure the better quality of food served in the airlines. They also opined that the menu offered should be changed periodically. In some cases, the food offered is awful,” the report said.

The report added: “The CEO of Jet Airways admitted to the Committee that in recent times, the quality of food served in Jet Airways has deteriorated and assured that it will be improved in a few weeks. There were fewer complaints about food served by Spice Jet, Air Asia and Air India. Everyone liked the food served by Vistara.”

It said the Committee was informed that there are great difficulties in getting water and food in low-cost airlines especially in IndiGo.

“In IndiGo, the food has to be pre-booked and on board, if someone demands food, they refuse to provide the food even to those who are diabetic and suffering from other medical conditions. A passenger has to report to the airport counter two hours before the departure time and one has to spend a few more hours in the flight without food and water and it is a horrible thing to face.”

The Committee recommended that IndiGo and other low-cost airlines should take adequate steps to ensure that food is available to the passengers on demand especially to those who are having some medical conditions.

“The Committee notes that the main difference between a low-cost carrier and the full cost carrier is the serving of food. It is unacceptable for airlines to serve unsatisfactory food after having charged customers for it. Every airline should maintain the highest quality of food and they should also change the menu occasionally instead of keeping a cold sandwich in their menu throughout the year.”

“The Committee recommends that random audits of the catering kitchens should be held to ensure quality, quantity and hygiene and that feedback from customers may also be taken into account. The cost of food may be separately printed on the ticket.”

 

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