Friday, March 09, 2007

Air Dhakkan

Col. Gopalan would be nothing short of overjoyed at this. His heist is working out just fine. And nobody is hauling him to the consumer courts of our defunct customer protection machinery. After all, he is the messiah who has democratized Air travel for the Indian hoi-polloi. Ah! Those days of 99 Rs ticket that would get taxed by another 221 Rs. Gone are those days! Between Messers Gopalan, Krishna and the other civil aviation ministers, they have ensured that air travel does not remain ‘cheap’ anymore. Actually, some credit goes to the oil traders in US and UK exchanges as well!

I made a mistake. I make a lot of mistakes but this is special. I bought a ticket with Deccan and then decided to cancel a leg! Since that fateful decision, I have spent some 98 minutes (and counting!) on the phone listening to the instrumental version of ‘Another Day in Paradise’ and the message ‘Thank you for calling Air Deccan, please wait while your call is being transferred to a customer support executive shortly.’ I have started feeling that I know this lady intimately. No sensible woman has spent so much time talking to me in a long long time! Typical woman she is, no idea of value of time. Lady, I am telling you – 103 minutes (counting) is not shortly. Since she is almost a friend now, I take her advice when she tells me to get onto the website and do what I want to.

Being the normal sensible person I am, I did it even before she told me. But after 7 continuous clicks on ‘Cancel Bookings’ and subsequent encounters with the enclosed screen, I gave up to hear her croon! I hope god offers warranty, my ears are about to fall off!

But, when a woman nags you to get onto a website every 30 seconds for 108 minutes, you do not have much choice. So I logged on to the website. Clicked on the link and voila! A hitherto unseen page appeared before my eyes. I was almost overjoyed. With a tinge of remorse, I almost admitted to myself that at times even nagging women mean well. But how mistaken I was. Because the next page was the following:

It asked me to click on ‘Modify’ or ‘Remove’ button. Any normal person would have been baffled by so much choice. But the abnormal person I am, I embarked on the challenge just to fall short of it. WHERE ARE THE BUTTONS? NOWHERE! Sach bol raha hoon, I am planning to file a FIR at the Gumshuda talash Kendra at Daryaganj, New Delhi. Buttons ko jinda ya murda dhoondne waale ko Rs. 50000/- inaam! Looks like the Dhakkans seem to have taken the line, ‘you can checkout any time you want, but you can never leave’, too seriously!

But thankfully, I had not kept the receiver down. So after 118 minutes, and a total recall of that friends episode that Phoebe spends on the phone, Naveen gets on to the phone. I complain. He is dismissive at best. But thankfully, he does cancel my ticket. So he saved my day (Wednesday of the next week to be precise!). Kal kya hoga kisko pata! Am flying with them tomorrow! Say a small prayer for me tonight. Till then, Khuda kafiz!


JeevSingh said...

This is what I have learned from my experiences in US. I always select the option that I want to make a new booking. This gets you to the customer service rep. quickly.

Prashant Modani said...

Maybe it was a bad day server wise. Or maybe with the increased traffic on their site it has detoirated, since the time I used to use Deccan.

They are cutting corners to make it affordable! Flying Jet/Sahara/IC would save you from these hassles but would cost more.

Its a tradeoff that most Indian consumers are making! For the record, When I was in Chennai and had to travel, I always used Air Deccan, and of the 5 sectors I used, I just modified one reservation once (online) and it went fine!

The only pain was when I was to return from Delhi to Chennai, and on arriving at the airport they declared that the flight is cancelled and offered either a full refund (Rs 1,495) which would not even be 20% of the next day morning Jet/IC flight (since Air Deccan is the last flight for the day to Chennai). I decided to take the flight next night, to which my then Citi Boss made a huge deal (I don't care how fucking expensive it is Modani, you re-schedule and report for work tomorrow were his words!) which made me decide (final nail in the coffin) and take a new job! So In some way, Air Deccan was a catalyst to get me back home for good! :-)

PS: Optimist Rationalizers will make a good thing out of any situation (in retrospect of course!)

Prateek said...

I have travelled with Deccan since their early days... even if you ignore their just-short-of-brusque staff at the check-in counters and the 'charming' rush and grab seat exercise, it leaves a lot to be desired - even at that price point which is not so attractive anymore. Very often an Indian Airlines/Sahara ticket is available at a lower rate.