Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Remember this when you next think "Kuchh nahi hoga"

On the 26th of June, the Kingfisher Leh-Delhi flight was cancelled. Kingfisher forgot to inform all the "guests" who checked out of their hotels, with kids as young as 1.5-2 years old, and got to the airport, only to realise that there is no flight. There was no problem with the weather. The problem was a "technical snag" which means their plane broke down and they did not think of a replacement at all.
So there it was, a bunch of over 200 people (it was a full flight) , with their baggage, outside the Leh terminal, in the blistering sun, because they were denied entry into the airport terminal. These people had connecting trains/flights, had checked out of their hotel. Some of them were unwell and were looking forward to being in the pressurised container to help ease the mountain sickness.
There is only one ATM in Leh, and that one was not working. Which meant that these people were there - with no accomodation (in this season, if you check out, fat chance that you will get that room again without a prior reservation) , no cash, not too well, and in the hot sun. No explanations either.
Happens all the time, and the airline expected them to whine for a while and then go try and find hotels or whatever. The airline maintained that they are a budget airline and there will be no help at all - no acco, no alternative flight, not even an attempt to help.
EXCEPT that in this case, the passengers did not let up. They kept at it, kept asking the airline staff for reasons, for alternatives, and kept asking for the Kingfisher Airport manager to step out to tell them what's happening. Finally, the airport manager came out. He had not expected this. Passengers are expected to whine, give galis, and then go away. 2 hours later, they were still around, asking him why no alternative plane was arranged if the airline knew at 4 a.m. that the plane will not take off from Delhi.. and other very relevant questions. The Airport manager went back in, accompanied by some passengers. The airline finally agreed to give refunds, and very few passengers took that refund. The others stayed on, asking for the alternative aircraft.

When a young child showed obvious signs of illness in the hot sun, the father put him on the airport door and insisted that the terminal be opened for women and children at least. It was opened, because all the other passengers stood behind that family.

A little later, the airport manager finally managed to get an alternative aircraft for the stranded passengers. Yes, they did. And the "budget airline" also magically managed to get tea and breakfast for people who literally, hadnt had a sip of water since morning. In Leh, that can be very destructive.

Finally, about 4.5 hours after the scheduled departure of that plane, the alternative flight took off. Full marks to Jet Airways for everything. Kingfisher managed the check in queue that was allowed entry into the airport check in area, and that was a nightmare. However, from there, Jet took over and was one impressed! Queues rationalised, staff holding children so parents could check in fast, staff helping women and children to the seated area so the queues are shorter and check in faster. There are days when Jet behaves like the new IC. That day, however, one saw a glimpse of the old Jet Airways again. Thank you Jet, and no thanks to Kingfisher.

But the moral of the story is, remember that if you stick together, you CAN force even the mighty to do what they should have done right in the first place. This is the first time in all one's life, that i saw people power at work. Remember this post when you feel helpless again. All one needs to do is stick together. :-) To more such days!

21 comments:

Mampi said...

I am sure YOU had a lot to do with this people power thingy. But it has happened so many times that airlines have taken passengers for a ride-literally. But glad that people insisted and persisted.

Shadows of life said...

Sorry you and many had to go through harsh time. It reminds me of my one 16 hour night at Delhi international airport. We had to spend long hours without water, food or even without proper sitting arrangement due to unexpected fog in Delhi and flights weren't taking its normal routes. Worse was the alternative arrangement by airport staff for international passengers...god bless those people who help each other in crisis.

VJ

Mayz said...

i remember d time when KF used to b d benchmark for all other airlines in India...

now I compare it to the blue line buses in Delhi...

d food quality, the entertainment system, the flight schedule everythin...pathetic!!!

Varun said...

Ek chidiya.. Anek chidiya ;-D

BK Chowla said...

I have maintained that you can bring the world down to their knees with people's movement.This formula will work with all the babus sitting in the secretariats and doing nothing.
My compliments to those who took active stand

Peenuts said...

Yes, right..ek aur ek gyareh..well done

sumanbolar said...

I love it! Notice how the line is "yes WE can", not "yes *I* can".

San said...

"To more such days" for sure! And I agree with Mampi there about your involvement..

rabbit said...

united we stand,
divided we fall...

How do we know said...

Hi Mampi: not too much.. there really were some very agitated people there..i was only supporting them fully.. :-) My contribution was in the Sindhu Darshan thingie..

Hi Shadows of life: Seriously.. i wish we would learn to stick together more often..

Hi mayz: totally agree.

Hi Varun: This time the reference is understood the first time. :-)

Chowla sir: Yes.. thank you.

Hi Peenuts: Thank you!

How do we know said...

Hi Suman: Yes.. and Rashmi's case was on my mind while writing this.. lets hope that one ends better too.. Amen.

Hi San: :-) Cant say i wasnt involved.. but there were other people there.. and one person could not have retained an entire crowd there.. we really had no place to go!

Hi rabbit: True! Hows ur Dell stint coming along?

Mama - Mia said...

:)

thats seriously good stuff! and yes, if we everyone takes a stand the people on the other side have no choice but to take notice and DO something! :)

cheers!

abha

Id it is said...

Believe it or not, I've had some great flights on Kingfisher from New Delhi to Goa and back, but I'll keep this in mind the next time I visit India where I do plan to go to Ladakh, thanks to your post!

There's power in numbers no doubt! However, this reality works for both the good and the bad. Look at the situation in Honduras; does the rest of the world know what is really good there? The common man's interest is unknown but there are 'numbers' behind the 'ousted' president' and the 'coup' also has a fancy number of followers who will not let. Then in Iran; the number game did not payoff as Ammedinijad seems to be having the final word there, despite the mass protest.

Forgive me for this lengthy comment.

My Blogs said...

Kuch Kaise Nahi Hoga ? Haan ?

Waise good to know you went to Leh. Pics bhejo jaldi...

And Kingfisher is still the best; forget one off cases.

Cheers
Manish

Onkar said...

Very correct. You need to come together and be persistent to get your due.

Balvinder Singh said...

Airlines should pay more attention to their passengers in these sectors as getting exposed to the high altitude atmosphere can be very dangerous.

I think of late our countrymen are waking up to the 'people power' that works wonder.

Pinku said...

lovely!!! all power to the people who THINK they can make things happen because thats the FIRST step to make it happen.

How do we know said...

Hi Abha: :-) My new found hope too!

Hi Id it is: Wow! u sure turn the argument on its head.. i kept thinking about this for some time.. and the response that comes to mind is: An idea is not responsible for its abuse.. having said that, the next thing one has to say is that you are spot on. Yes, numbers, unfortunately, do work both ways.

Hi Manish: :-) Thank you for that confidence.. will also take ur word for KF being better than Jet.. since you know airlines much better... in this one case tho, they were not people u write home about.

Hi Onkar: Yes.

How do we know said...

Balvinder sir: Yes, read in the news about Shopian today. You were there.. tell us, are these stories true?

Hi Pinku: GOOD to c u here. Welcome! :-)

J P Joshi said...

The power of joint action. An interesting episode of how people coming together can influence the outcome. Yes, "kuchh nahin hoga" is a typical Indian mindset that is the culprit for most of our ills. I do wish we had more people coming together for national issues too that concern our nation at large - corruption, poverty, illiteracy and accountability to name a few.

How do we know said...

Joshi sir: Yes, i m hoping too..