I’ve recently been trying to use Air India off and on, given their Star Alliance membership, to try and test how they react in various circumstances and whether it is in line with Star Alliance requirements or not. Sometimes it is, sometimes it is not.

For instance, back in August, when I went with AI for my flight to Goa from Mumbai Terminal 2, AI offered me only one lounge access card, which made sure me and my fiancée could not go into the lounge together. As AI Golden Tier member and Star Alliance Gold, I was good for 2 passes due to the *A guidelines.

Just this past Saturday, I made a trip to Delhi on one of Air India’s 787 planes to Delhi from Mumbai Terminal 2. The reason this was not done for so long was because for a long while, AI did not put the 787 on Mumbai originating routes and I still don’t travel internationally with Air India.

I’ve known about Air India’s issues with the Boeing 787 for a long time, and the reason I booked this flight was to also check if I was going to be affected by these issues or not. AI has bought some of the early stage Boeing 787 planes, being one of the early customers of the plane, and these tend to be more heavy sometimes and not exactly everything is smoothened out on these planes.

Anyhow, I chose to fly Air India 348 from Mumbai to Delhi on the Mumbai – Delhi – Shanghai route, and the plane was supposed to board at 7:20 AM and take off at 7:50 AM. Except, the plane did not even board till 7:50 AM.

People, grappling with a lack of information, were frequently going over to ask AI agents about how various things would be handled, and AI agents had no answers to their questions. Factor this, people have connections from AI’s Delhi hub to Jammu, to Paris and to other places, and AI won’t let them know how would they make sure these people got on their once a day flights.

Till it came to this…

image

With Air India, the agents were clueless, and they counted their job only as giving information to the passengers as per what emerged from the engineers on the plane, who told them that the plane had a mechanical issue and the flight won’t be able to take off.

First, they delayed the flight by 1 hour, and then by another 30 minutes, and in this meanwhile, the agents would vanish as fast as they could to avoid the crowds. Their response to connection queries… “we will send a message to our Delhi counterparts after the flight takes off.” That is so much reassurance folks, that you get to spend 24 hours in a different city if Air India acts on whim and does not hold the other flight for you, in spite of having issued you a boarding pass for the flight.

What should have really happened? Air India should have a formal plan in place for how to handle tight or missed connection flights, which customers would be rebooked on a later flight the same day, which customers would be rebooked on another carrier and so on. This formal plan would of course make sure the agents act according to this plan rather than just duck questions from the passengers.

About 8 years or so ago, Air India mishandled a flight of mine when I had no status on them, and this was a fog issue at Delhi airport, where they handled it so badly, making me wait 24 hours at the airport, that I did not get on an Air India plane for at least 5-6 years after that.

There are luxuries and their are basics. When a passenger has a ticket to go someplace on an airline, it becomes the airline’s responsibility to get him there and they owe their customers an answer. In this case, the airline just made a mess and all they did was to go further down in the eyes of their customers who think they are a big burden on the Indian taxpayer anyways.

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Hyatt’s Gold Passport program is known to be one of the best loyalty recognition programs out there for hotel guests, and is the Kool Aid for miles and points bloggers such as yours truly. However, I’ve not held their Diamond Status for an extended period of time ever, largely because of my irregular stay patterns with respect to hotels. I’m not a lawyer or a consultant or a full-time blogger, so for me, I did not have a circumstance to do 25 stays or 50 nights to get the status.

Hyatt also has another generous offer to get you to Diamond status however. They will allow you to enrol in the Hyatt Diamond Challenge, which grants you the Diamond status by completing 12 nights within 60 days. You do need to present your top-tier credentials with another competing program to be able to sign up for the challenge. Diamond status is granted up-front to the end of the month where you are expected to complete the challenge, and you do get the upgrade certs in your account as well, which help you upgrade paid stays to suites.

I was on the fence about the status and its utility, however when Hyatt announced the 50% off sale in India, I realised it was a great time to be able to go for the status, at lower pricing than it would usually happen for. I had some stays in mind, and worse comes to worse, I could have quit the challenge mid-ways.

I started with my planned stay at the Park Hyatt Goa Resort and Spa which was planned for the long weekend in August along with friends. Here is my earlier reviewmy earlier review of this property. I will write another one of the past stay soon, and will update this post. PH Goa upgraded us to a junior suite on arrival. I always love coming back to this resort.

When in Pune, I decided to head to Hyatt Pune to explore the brand, and I loved the personalisation element. Here too, we were send to a junior suite without having to apply a Diamond upgrade cert.

Then, I hopped across to the Hyatt Regency Punethe Hyatt Regency Pune, where I was upgraded to their Club Room. I did not find this hotel very engaging with their customers, but by now I was 4 nights down.

Next, I was back from a long stressful trip, and decided to check into a hotel for the weekend to get my bearings straight. I first headed up to the Grand Hyatt Mumbai and then to Hyatt Regency Mumbai. Both of them upgraded me to the Club category rooms, and at the Hyatt Regency, this was not the best category of rooms ex-suites, so they further upgraded me to the Club Deluxe rooms.

In October, I was over to Kolkata, and I decided to stay at the Hyatt Regency Kolkata. A best rate guarantee helped me with the pricing on the hotel rooms, and the hotel upgraded us to a duplex suite. This was one great stay.

On my recent work trips, I stayed a couple of times at the Hyatt Place Amsterdam Airport due to my quirky arrival and departure times. This helped me round up the requirements for the challenge.

However, I did throw in another stay at the Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill, just to be sure about my stay requirements being met, and it was a very good stay, but something I’m still to write about.

After finishing the requirements, I went back to the Hyatt Gold Passport team, who promptly upgraded the status to last till February 2016. I also managed to pick up 10,000 GP points towards a promotion this quarter.

Conclusion: Hotel status is a great thing to have if you plan it strategically, and I am glad to be with the Hyatt Gold Passport program all the way till 2016, so next year I can work on getting in the status via the regular stay requirements maybe.

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Oh boy. I hate going quiet on the blog but sometimes life takes you places where you take a plane and go, and there is just so much going on that your laptop is perpetually starving for battery and hence the posting has to wait.

So, the past few weeks, while I’ve been trying to post, I’ve been over to Europe, the USA, and then after a quick trip to Kolkata, I found myself again on the road for two weeks in a row… which was essentially supposed to be one trip to start with.

I was over to the Netherlands for a week, and while I was supposed to do some more meetings in other parts of Europe while I was there, it did not exactly work out as planned, so it did not make sense to be sitting in Europe for 4 days while I could have gotten work done in Mumbai and spent a weekend at home. Hence I was on my way back to London this week, in Economy, because everything else was so pricey!!!

Its been a long few months of travelling, and now I’m waiting to board my first 787 flight on Air India’s 787s at Mumbai Airport. I met the first plane in 2012, but will be able to experience them first hand only now. Of course I do remember Rohit Nandan’s amused looks when he was being walked through that plane then and told there are windows in the toilets now.

With Diwali around the corner, I’m just looking forward to get back home and kick up my heels. I hope whenever you start your family travels, you get a comfortable flight and a good lounge before you go home.

The song in my head…is of course this one, though in not such a fabulous voice!

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Jet Airways and American Express have been together for roughly two years now, and American Express has decided it needs to freshen up the product. So, in this spirit, multiple efforts have happened in the past few months. The new changes come into effect from October 20, 2014. Firstly, American Express dropped the 1st year […]

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As I reached another 7-figure benchmark on the total number of miles and points I control (my own and my family), I thought it would be a good idea to do some slice and dice on the data for my own self to be able to understand where I stand, and for you to have […]

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A long weekend is an excuse to get out of town, and October 2-6 this year was one of those with a lot of holidays. With a lot of Bengali friends, I’ve heard great things about Kolkata during the Durga Puja season, and it was one of the things on my to do list. So, […]

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Vistara, the newest Indian airline, and a new full-service airline to come into India after a long while, is going full swing to get off the ground at the earliest moment possible. They recently got their first plane delivered, an A320 by the registration number VT-TTB, and VT-TTC is also going to be over shortly. […]

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Earlier this year, I sent some of my Europe travel business to British Airways because of the convenient timings I had for travel to Europe (twice daily) rather than once daily. It involved backtracking as well, and the pains of getting a visa, but that added so much flexibility to my travel plans as well, […]

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I’ve been spending a lot of time away from home recently, and I just wanted to spend some downtime over the a weekend. However, that was not going to be possible if I decided to stay home because something or the other would have been tugging for my attention. Owing to this, I decided to […]

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SpiceJet is working on a reinvention all this year, and amongst the other things they are working on, is the food they serve on the flights. Being a no-frills airline, they only offer Buy-on-board meals, but the public verdict about the food was not great earlier. Taking that feedback on board, they reworked the menu, […]

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A few days ago, JetPrivilege and Etihad Guest announced that they were going to offer double miles for flights taken across the Etihad Airways network, for flights till December 15, 2014. Now, Jet Airways has initiated a new promotion, where you can get double JP Miles or double Etihad Guest miles for flying on the […]

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