Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Strange bedfellows

'Is Deccan's DNA under threat'? asks Mint.

Well, I certainly hope so!

The Air Deccan-Kingfisher alliance is something like the pauper and the prince coming together. The airline poorest at keeping its customers satisfied and the airline whose cup of goodwill runneth over...

Having travelled Air Deccan last month I would say there is definitely a 'Kingfisher effect'. There are improvements in a few areas, although in many others problems continue.

The main problem with Deccan is not on board the plane (the aircrafts are actually quite new and shiny!) but the process of getting there.

The first thing you notice is the looooong queue to get your check in baggage screened. Why, pray, is there only one machine if Deccan has more passengers?

But getting your boarding card is much worse. At both ends of the flight - Bombay and Bangalore - there was a passenger with excess baggage. Not 2-3 kgs mind you, 15, 17, 20 kgs excess baggage. And, they were refusing to pay.

Now you can't blame the airline for these adiyal passengers but surely a supervisor needs to step in and sort out the mess instead of holding up the rest of the line for half an hour. Without apology or explanation.

Some might say, "These are railway mindset passengers.. what can you do?" The point is Deccan is not the only budget airline. But somehow, there is always an altercation going on at the Deccan counter. People have a very belligerent attitude towards the airline.

The callous behaviour of staff over a period of time is the stuff of story swapping legend. "You are on a budget airline, be grateful we sell cheap tickets to you... don't expect anything more" has been the attitude all along.

With such a 'DNA', Air Deccan is in urgent need of genetic engineering!

Current improvements include sharing of infrastructure (Deccan using the aerobridge enabled parking bay of Kingfisher). And a little more common courtesy. But tons of scope for improvement remains.

Something as simple as seat numbers. Didn't the DGCA insist Deccan had to issue them? Well see the fun. Your ticket has a seat number but when you get into the plane they tell you "Never mind, you can sit anywhere."

Vijay Mallya hopes to hike prices - in fact the airline already has done so already, by 8-10%. But apparently flights are increasingly flying empty.

I think it' not just price sensitivity but the fact that people don't see enough value in the product. The overall experience on Deccan is so poor that as a brand it attracts little or no loyalty. Its only USP was price.

In fact many travellers prefer to pay 10-20% more and fly 'any other airline'. Until one fine day you find the Deccan flight is most convenient or the only one available or the only one flying a particular sector... and you sigh, "let's try it one last time".

Only to add to your 'Air Deccan horror story" collection.

The bottomline is a 'budget' product need not make people feel cheap. If Kingfisher makes people feel like kings, at the least Air Deccan should make us want to be its loyal subjects!


  1. Well every1 seems to be bang on air deccan. ITs the 1st airline to start budget airlines. So, its the trendsetter.

    Several others do hav poor service. Its unjustified to always Blame Deccan. Ys, air deccan needs improvement.. I hope it will Improve cozz Mallya is Backing Air Deccan.

  2. My first trip via Deccan when it was recently launched... I was making fun of it stating that..

    They switch off the airconditioner at the time of landing and takeoff, then they switch off the engines and they glide to their destination... only because they are the budget airlines..

    Hope they do not price it like kingfisher, since they price low, we have low expectations from them..

  3. I'm a fan of your blog and writing style, but in my first comment here, I can't but disagree with your views on Air Deccan. I've flown on it, between Delhi and my home town, and the service was satisfactory (and in my case, considerate, coz I'm differently-abled).....

  4. I traveled by Deccan three times last year at around this time of the year, had no problems.

    In Bangalore I went by Spice to Bangalore (a very good experience both ways), but while checking in I saw complete chaos at the Deccan counters. Huge serpentine queues that did not move, and confusion at the baggage scanning both. I was only thanking FSM that I hadn't bought Deccan tickets.

    Deccan seems to have bitten off more than they can chew, with a large number of aircraft and flights that leave from the same source (Bombay, for one) at the same time. They do not have the staff and logistics to handle this (being a budget airline) required to handle all this, so everything becomes a mess.

    I liken it a bit to the ICICI experience. ICICI aggressively went for more customers, now you find complaints of lack of service, and also the lines outside their ATMs (whether Cannaught place or Churchgate Station) are the longest...

  5. Before booking a flight on Air Deccan, I was terrified by lot of people about their service and their arrival and departure times. But when I actually flew with them, I think they were not bad at all and especially at the price they are flying.

    I arrived at the airport like 15 minutes before departure time. They had closed the counter and there was no one to issue me a boarding pass. But there was one air deccan person on the floor, who paged someone to issue me a boarding pass. They helped me get through the security check and a bus was waiting for us to escort us to the aircraft. And I was aboard the aircraft in like 10 minutes. I think it was very nice of them to go out of their way and help me out.

  6. Since u mentioned the 2-3 kgs extra..

    Air-Deccan Weighing system is manipulated to weigh a few kgs extra (Much like the Rickshaw meters..)

    And, I am not just saying it.. II experienced it first hand...

  7. I first travelled by Deccan around two years ago when I was a student in Hyderabad and really needed to fly cheap (don't ask how I managed to fun air travel while being a student but the train and the concommitant lechy men had lost its charm). I personally love airline food and my problem was that Deccan didn't have any. Other than that I thought it was a pretty good experience though I am a true blue jet fan (food/service/hot male stewards).

    But this year, I convinced husband we should fly Deccan and overall the experience was crap. They allow you less baggage than the other airlines so once you pay the excess you might as well have flown another airline. My biggest crib was that the airline was dirty inside - the seats were dusty and the floor had pieces of food on it. Worse - our seats didn't recline.

    I understand the long lines, even the baggage thing... but not vacuuming the plane before take-off? Gross

  8. Whether or not Air Deccan provides satisfactory services, is strictly a matter of conjecture for me (I have no first-hand experience of flying with the carrier). One thing is for sure though. Air Deccan busted into the tightly held Indian avaiation sector, and opened up the skies for a lot many people out there. Flying for the Indian middle class remained a distant dream, till Deccan came onto the horizon. Moreover, the astounding success of the carrier, also allured other players into the untapped market. The bravado of Kingfisher, Deccan, SpiceJet etc., stemmed from the success of the first low-cost homegrown carrier. Certainly it takes a lot to sustain customer satisfaction and Deccan has miles to go in that department. However, you have to hand it down to Gopinath for adapting the low-cost model to suit Indian sensibilities

  9. Not sure if we should punch Deccan this hard. These are the guys who made sure others reduced their tickets too. Recall the full fare tickets in pre-AD area..
    And btw, have you flown Go Air?

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