There is a video making the rounds these days, where Air India employees are putting up with passengers who arrived late and the flight was closed. This is a video which was shot at Mumbai’s Terminal 2 a few days ago, with a camera smartphone and uploaded to a social network for maximum impact.
Apparently, a bunch of passengers arrived at Terminal 2, Mumbai, 55 minutes before the flight. For Air India, they operate a few flights from Terminal 2 at this moment, but these are domestic legs of international flights. For instance, very clearly mentioned on their website, is this information:
Assuming the passengers arrived at Terminal 2 and not Terminal 1A, which is at least 20 minutes away due to traffic, they would have also noted the check-in time requirements. Of course they knew this was not their regular flight because it would fly from Terminal 1A otherwise. It is very clearly highlighted on Air India’s website that they should have been around about 2 hours prior (recommended) and check-in closed at 60 minutes out.
The passengers claimed that they received an SMS from their travel service provider which said they should have been over 45 minutes prior. I read somewhere that this was GoIbibo. Now, GoIbibo sends out generic texts all the time to passengers:
Of course, it was Goibibo who forgot to customise their message for these flights and sent out the generic one.
A lot of people have gone on to blame the airline in the way they’ve handled the situation. In this case, while I agree that the airline did not display any empathy, the passengers did not go about pleading their case kindly as well.
I hear sentences such as this in the video from the passengers:
If there would have been a bomb scare, the flight would be delayed, right?
What if it was your own daughter making it late to the flight?
I find that totally irresponsible to make it personal. I also find it irresponsible to bring in a security situation to make your own personal agenda.
I do spend a lot of time on planes, and I’ve seen empathy and apathy both from airline employees, Air India included. However, rules are rules, and I would have to side with the airline this time around. Rules are made for our safety. Airlines have to pay fines for every minute they stay on the ground when they make a delay. Also, Air India recently imposed fines on employees who cause delays for the flights, including crew which arrives late, or in this case, the ground staff who would have had to seek supervisory approval to allow passenger boarding again.
We can have a debate on how this situation would have been handled when VIPs would be on board, but lets not debate that because clearly in this case, GoIbibo.com was partly at fault, and passengers were a lot at fault. The airline did not handle these passengers sensitively, but that is not their fault if people arrive late for a flight.
Bottomline: Plan in enough time for your flight rather than arrive last minute. Also, check in ahead so that you already have a boarding pass when you are at the airport.