Indian Airlines Chennai Airport: How bad can it get?

I left this morning on the 8.10 AM flight to Hyderabad for an event, so I reached the airport at 7.30 AM to check in. As I sent my baggage through the security x-ray machine and reclaimed my bag, I was confronted by the site of a long, long queue for the check in for Indian. For they had ONE check in counter open for TWO flights. Now I knew why the board outside informed me as I arrived that the flight was delayed to 8.45 AM! Mind you, Indian has FIFTEEN check in counters. Jet has about eight or ten, Kingfisher two and Spice two. None of the private airlines had any queue in front of their counters, despite Jet having multiple flights taking off within a short span of time. But Indian? Long queue with the person at the counter taking a long time over every single check in (as usual!) The crowd stood there, including me, wistfully looking at the private airline’s check in counters. How I wish I’d taken the 6.20 AM Jet to Hyderabad like some of my colleagues!

Wait, there’s more! After a while, some one seems to have had a twinge of concern, and announced one more counter would open for people with hand baggage. The queue divided into two gratefully. Given the dismal speed, we continued to stand for a long time, shuffling forward occasionally. After another long gap in time, reluctantly a third counter was opened. Still we all stood, staring into space, resigned to our fate. Then, mercifully, a gentleman came up and asked if I was travelling to either Hyderabad or Trivandrum? I nodded for Hyderabad, and he whisked me away to the last counter (voila, a fourth!), where again I had to wait for a while, but only for two people. (Jet would have checked in six by then).

Then through security and upstairs to the departure lounge. By now it was eight o’clock. If we were to take off at 8.45 AM, they would board by 8.15 AM, so we sat patiently. Eight fifteen came and went. No announcement. Every other airline that had a delayed flight announced the fact, the reason for the delay, and apologized to their passengers. Indian? Stoic silence. From the time I stepped in to when I boarded the aircraft, there was no such announcement. Oh no, we’re Indian. We don’t do these things. At eight thirty the aircraft came to the bay and was connected. No announcement. The passengers on board deplaned. No announcement. Eight forty five. Ten to nine, the door was opened and a staff member comes out and says casually, “Five minutes”, and walks off.

At nine they boarded people in wheel chairs. Then we followed gratefully. Take off was announced. No apologies. Just routine, ‘Okay, here we go!’ stuff. Take off, reach cruising altitude. Breakfast served. The lady next to me asks for a non-veg breakfast. The hostess says, without a trace of apology, “Sorry ma’am, we have a uniform breakfast. Its only vegetarian”. Instead of reaching Hyderabad at nine ten, we reach over one hour later. How do they expect to compete? Especially if ground handling is so very callous. I was so sad to see this at Chennai airport. I wonder if it’s the same everywhere? Anyways it looks like its best to be Indian, but fly anything but Indian!

7 Comments so far

  1. Sidharth (unregistered) on April 27th, 2007 @ 9:53 pm

    Sounds so much like my experience on a Chennai-Hyderabad Indian flight earlier in Jan.

    There was absolutely no announcement or indication as to which gate the flight would be departing from or at what time.The flight got delayed by an hour and finally when they started boarding,they stopped suddenly with half the people already in the aircraft citing some random reason and made us wait for 15 more mins in the line.

    We finally boarded,were greeted by Indian’s wonderful “Hospitality” and landed in Hyderabad with me vowing never to fly Indian again!I came back by Jet and what a difference it was!!!

  2. Ravi (unregistered) on April 28th, 2007 @ 10:01 am

    Hi David,

    This is Ravi from Bangalore Metroblogging with a request. I believe it is important that we do our bit for the environment and highlight certain organisations and their activities/campaigns.

    One such is Greenpeace and the work they are currently involved in – raising awareness on the dramatic climate changes happening globally and a solution for the same.

    I have written abt Greenpeace/interviewed the Director of Greenpeace India in this post

    May I request any one of you at ChennaiMB to link to my post for spreading awareness among your readers?

    I’d greatly appreciate your assistance.

    Warm Regards,


  3. Yuva (unregistered) on April 28th, 2007 @ 5:43 pm

    due recently media crack down with other airlines, govt is going to bill in couple of months to introducing penalty/clams for any airline delays.

    hope thats help to avoid such trouble in future.

  4. Srivatsan K. Iyengar (unregistered) on April 28th, 2007 @ 11:32 pm


    So true, in fact I avoid sectors where Indian Airlines alone operates, but sometimes I have too. In the first week of April I was travelling Bombay to Jamnagar as usual flight was delayed due to air traffic congestion at Bombay airport. Whilst boarding the airhostess aunties on the verge of retirement who are supposed to guide passengers to their seats, there always are many first time fliers, old people travelling alone and the lone kids, they just did not bother to help the ignorant passengers and there was a pile up of passengers on the tarmac……aJet or Kingfisher or any other airlines would never treat its passengers like this…….

    A secured government job with no accountability……

    But there is a noticable change in the food that is served, some of the counter staff have started smiling whilst checking in. But a longggggggggggggg way to go and improve the services.

  5. sachin (unregistered) on April 29th, 2007 @ 12:02 pm

    IA is the mecca for travelling women. Thats cause it allows 30 Kilos. Apart from that, no reason to use it!

  6. Govar (unregistered) on April 30th, 2007 @ 10:35 am

    This is off topic, but how bad can Chennai airport get? We disembarked from an international flight a couple of days ago and the first room we enter doesn’t have an AC on. In the stifling chennai summer, the crowded room without A/C was unbearable, to say the least.

    We Indians are ok with us – we grew up this way, but we are sending wrong signals to foriegners who come down here who are in effect ambassadors of our country. I was surprised that one of the european clients, when told about offshoring, asked us if we have uninterrupted power in India for running software companies. But there is a lesser reason to get to get surprised because these are the signals we send to people visiting our country. An A/C, for heaven’s sake???!!!

  7. Arvind (unregistered) on May 16th, 2007 @ 5:51 pm


    I have had pretty bad experiences on the Indian flight from Chen-Hyd. For a long time it was the most convenient flight time schedule but now with KF at 840 AM I dont even bother to look at Indian…the fact is that flight comes to Hyd from Sharjah and then comes to Chennai invariably delayed on the way.

    Once, When I was travelling on short notice to Hyd. , I had instructed my travel agent to book on Indian for the next day morning flight, at 5PM. at 5.02 PM my father calls me from home asking me whether Iam going to Hyd the next day (I had not informed them till then)..apparently Indian call center had called up my home and informed that the flight was delayed by 4 hours and would leave only by 12PM.I immediately called up my travel agent and got the tickets changed to Jet…all this happened within 3 minutes !!

    About Sachin’s comment, I too landed from China on April 28th and found some renovation going on in the immig counters…and AC switched off…sweltering heat!

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