Oh Lord. Yes it is cheap and that is probably its only redeeming feature. But aside from that, if you can afford something else, then please use another airline.
This happened in 2011 but since then I have told friends and family to avoid this airline, AVOID IT.
It began after I had ordered my ticket through a website. I was travelling from London to Bangkok and back again and what really caught my eye was that on my way there and back as well I only had a 3 hour wait in New Delhi to wait for my connection, and the ticket was very reasonably priced.
So I would travel from Heathrow on the 30th of December at 9.30pm, land in New Delhi at 11.15am, local time and then my connecting flight was at 2pm to Bangkok, due to arrive at 7.15pm. So I booked and they took the money immediately, this was on the 20th of August. Then on the 19th of November I get an email which says that my flight plan has changed and it then asks me to login to a website to view the changes. So I login and what they did was they had changed my outgoing flight to 2.30pm, instead of 9.30pm. However my connecting flight was still at 11.15am the following day, meaning they had suddenly, without explanation and three months after I''d booked and paid for my ticket increased my waiting time to ten hours and forty minutes!
I immediately called their call centre in India, asking why this change had been made. The lady I spoke to merely stated that there had been a change in the schedule, which is why I had been put on this earlier flight. I said to the rep that I booked and paid for this in August and that it was very bad form to change this three months after the fact, especially considering I had already booked my coach to and from the airport. I also said that if I had known that my waiting time would be nearly 11 hours in New Delhi then I would have booked with a different airline and if there really was no way to put me back on my original flight then I would like some food and drinks vouchers as I would have to eat and drink while waiting there. After this I called them every day for a week to ask what the status of my flight was, and after a week I had an email to say there had been a change to my schedule. Sure enough, they had put me back on my original flight. Which was good!
The plane journey there was uneventful, we left promptly but the plane was old and it was not very clean. Food was alright but the air stewardesses were very grumpy, no smiles anywhere. Journey back was the same, with the exception that we were delayed by four hours for no reason and with no explanation. I had permitted myself two hours from landing to get to the tube train I needed to catch but because of this I missed my tube, thus my train and I had to buy a new ticket, but as it was so late by that point the train only went as far as Loughborough. So I had to catch a taxi to Nottingham. This was very costly so I wrote them a letter and asked if they would please explain what had happened and perhaps reimburse me, sent special delivery to their offices in London. Did not get a reply, no phone call, no nothing. I would just avoid them.
Lastly, a word of warning. I''m not sure if this is the case now but when I was in transit in New Delhi, even if you were just in transit, you were frisked when you left the plane and you were walking to catch your connection. I was frisked when I was on my way to Bangkok while waiting there and on my way back also. If you can afford it, go with another airline, the hassle is NOT worth it!
** My suggestion to add Air India Express was rejected by Dooyoo and I was instructed to write under Air India **
~Should you always book the cheapest?~
When I booked our flights to Mumbai a few months ago I really didn't have much of a plan about what we'd do on our holiday. With the help of my trusty India guide book I started to patch together some ideas and the main thrust of my thinking was that we would go from Mumbai to somewhere vaguely in the south or west of the country and then work our way back again. Having spent a couple of slightly sick days in Kochi (a.k.a Cochin) eight years ago, I quite fancied going back for a better look (hopefully without the ickiness second time around). I went looking for flights and - thanks to the site www.makemytrip.co.in - I found a bargain deal on a flight from Mumbai to Kochi with Air India Express (let's call it AIE) for just 9466 rupees - a grand total of £117 for the two of us. I think at the time it was actually cheaper and a lot quicker than the train.
I've used several Indian budget airlines without any trouble and really liked SpiceJet in particular. I was wary of Air India Express because it's the budget arm of Air India and I've never been overly impressed by the full-service airline. I had low expectations of how much more they could possibly cut out of their already pretty shabby service.
The good news for those familiar with the games played by the big European budget airlines like Ryanair and EasyJet is that thankfully AIE doesn't try to trick you or catch you out by charging you to check in or to take luggage and they don't make you practice your rugby scrum by not assigning you a seat and leaving you to fight for it. That's the good news - don't let it get you too excited!
~Domestic Flights from the International Terminal~
AIE uses the international terminal of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Airport in Mumbai even though it's offering domestic flights. This means when you tell your hotel and your taxi driver that you want to go to the international terminal, they will assume you are lying or stupid. Be firm! Despite the suggestion from the airline that we might like to roll up 3 hours before departure we were actually at the airport about 2 hours before and were more than happy to find an almost empty airport and nobody in the queue to check in. So that's another big plus point AIE compared to our European friends. We handed over our bags, got our proper boarding passes and were more than happy to see that we had proper seat allocations. We then headed off for security checks, something to eat, some magazines to read and all the usual things you do at an airport anywhere before heading to find somewhere to sit in the gate area.
~Find your Seat~
We steered away from the crush and were two of the last people to go to the gate and board the bus to the plane. It was a battered old beast and we were sweltering in the heat whilst we waited to go to the plane. Once we boarded it became quickly apparent that we might have been the only people who were happy to have allocated seating. I say that because it was evident that most people were not where they were supposed to be. Thankfully our seats were still free but conflict was breaking out around us as people tried to work out what was going on. A rather strident woman was strutting about trying to find somewhere to sit and we got the impression that she was a 'hitch hiker' who worked for the airline and was trying to get a free ride to Kochi. For a while she thought she had a seat until someone came and turfed her out. My husband had taken one look at her when she got on the plane and said "I can smell trouble" and sure enough he seemed to be right. We like to think they strapped her in the toilet for take off and landing.
The seats on the plane were awful. I'm not sure if I was just unlucky and others were better, but my seat felt like it had no padding in the bum area at all. The last time I'd had something close to so unpadded was a saddle on a camel. The plane appeared to be an old one that had probably been in service since Mrs Gandhi had been a girl. As you'd expect for a cheap airline, the seats were crammed in pretty tight but nothing worse than you'd find on a Ryanair flight. Looking around the cabin we quickly realised that we were the only passengers who didn't appear to be local - something which turned into quite a typical scenario during our holiday.
~Other people's children~
Being late arrivals, all the overhead locker space had long gone and contents suggested that people have a pretty flexible interpretation of what constitutes hand luggage. The plane was absolutely stuffed tight with bodies and - since we were flying a few days after Diwali and it's a big holiday season - a lot of the passengers where children. It may well become a recurring theme in my reviews of this particular holiday that middle class children in India might benefit from a little more discipline from their parents. That's my polite way of commenting that nobody seems to think it might be a good thing to stop their kids kicking the seats and bouncing on the seat back trays whilst screaming at each other. I'm failing to restrain myself from saying that I'd like to buy up hundreds of copies of a book I saw in a bookshop in Mangalore called "Learn to smack your kids" and them hand them out to AIE passengers. The volume of noise in the plane was like a Saturday afternoon in Pizza Express. I wished I'd had my ear plugs.
In terms of service during the flight, I'm not sure how much activity there was as most of the time I was sitting there with my eyes closed, gritting my teeth and trying to ignore the bedlam going on around me. The cabin attendants were neatly attired in smart salwar kameez rather than the more traditional saris I recall from Air India. I thought they had their work cut out to try to keep a plane full of rowdy passengers under something resembling control.
We were each given a small bottle of drinking water fairly early on and a slice of really poor cake followed. The cake was probably rubbish because in order to be vegetarian in the Hindu sense of the word, it can't contain egg. Nobody is going to hand out non-veg cake so the resulting slice of cake-like stuff has to work for both veg and non-veg customers. The other most noticeable thing about the flight was how incredibly cold it was. I wondered if someone had left the windows open!
The flight took about 2 hours and landed eventually in Kochi with a bump that might have been less noticeable if there had been more padding in the seat. The disembarkation resembled one of those training videos where passengers are challenged to prove that it's possible to get 200 people down an emergency shoot in less than 10 seconds. Bags were delivered after a short delay and I watched as two women lugged all the bags out of the trolleys and onto the luggage belt whilst a chap in a uniform supervised them. Some of the larger bags took both women lifting together to get them out and I couldn't help thinking that was a pretty awful way to earn a living.
I asked some locals we got speaking to on a train about a week later what they thought about Air India Express. They told me that even though the service is a lot poorer than many of the independent budget carriers and the planes are old and ropey, many people choose the carrier because it's part of Air India and they expect that if anything goes wrong the government will put things right. Whether that's 'anything goes wrong' in terms of flight cancellations or planes falling out of the air, I'm not sure. For my money, I'd rather book an independent carrier whose planes are newer and who might still have some padding in their seats. Our flight was a bargain but I'd prefer to pay a little more in return for a bit more comfort next time. AIE is unlikely to get repeat business from us.
My folks were supposed to get in their flight today from Newark to Mumbai, but I wasn't surprised when they weren't put on it as Air India is globally recognized for its incompetence. Their staff was pathetic as usual. My dad wears an artificial limb and I wish the Air India management could understand his plight, but they can't. No wheelchair assistance for the entire 3 hours we waited in the line. We were on time but the back-logged passengers from the previous day were given preference over the hundreds like us who were supposed to leave today. The only announcement made was by the manager (who happened to scurry to a meeting when the rest of us were waiting to check in to their pathetic flight) without even getting his message on the Public Address System. So, after waiting for 2 hours, I decide to pick a soda and I miss the alert. Tough luck.
I wish I could sue these morons but I don't have the time nor the desire to see them again, even in court. I tried to give this once-prestigious company a chance, but no, they simply disappoint us to no avail. Thank you Air India for ruining an entire day for us. I'm glad your company's going to dissolve. I'm sure it'll be quick if you keep going this way.
Going out to Kathmandu via Delhi there was one man on the transfer desk for 200 passengers, his computer kept crashing and it took a suggestion of a passenger to move to another computer before there was an adequate service. Total time in queue 90 mins. The return journey began at Kathmandu with a delay time of 3hrs with no explanation, on arrival at Delhi AI knew they had 200+ passengers to transfer in double quick time and they had the same man by himself on the transfer desk with the same slow computer taking 15 mins to process one passenger. There was lots of angry passengers who had missed connections but officials were totally oblivious to the complaints. Then everything came to a halt as the man processing the transfers took himself off on-walk about. Eventually got boarding pass after 3hrs for a flight that was due to leave at 14.55 but took off at 19.00. To cap it all on reaching the gate there was only a handful of passengers as they had boarded the rest and it took over an hour and lots of phone calls to get a bus out to the plane. Then the terminal doors failed so more time was lost as officials tried to open them. We joined the rest of the passengers who had been waiting for 90mins aboard then sat for a further 30mis without explanation. On the insistence of a passenger the Captain announced he had been trying to get an explanation for the delay but failed. During the 90 min waiting on board staff had served one meal so it was very late before we managed to get food. Tried to locate cabin crew for water but they had all vanished!
Worst customer service ever received.
Recently I flew from kathmandu to Delhi with a connecting flight to Heathrow. The first flight arrived a bit late but we had lots of time to catch the next leg. Instead AI kept about 50 people at the tranfer desk for up to three hours without an explanation of why until the connecting flight left. Basically they had overbooked the flight massively and bounced about 20 of us in the end until the next day. The staff at the desk were beyond rude, incompetent and unhelpful - they seemed to be almost enjoyng it with two of them sitting on a desk at the back watching passengers like we were animals in a zoo while they munched biscuits.
I will never fly this airline or go anywhere near Delhi again. It just isn't worth being treated like that.
The next day all the passengers who missed the flight avoided a repeat of the previous day after a further two hour delay by staging a sit in at the gate. It took two thankfully appalled army guys ordering the head of airport security to get us on a plane out of there.
In four words "JUST DONT DO IT!"
AIR INDIA; I have been to India twice from London and it was a well good experience to there. Air India has quite good facilities; I was given food at times of breakfast, lunch, snacks and diner. However they always provide with same foods and drinks for a main course, but we're allowed to get anything else at anytime.
I was in economy class both times I went. They served me well but at times there were some technical problems; however there was a safe landing. There were always delays in flights while going to or coming from. But they covered up the time quite firmly. Though I followed some bad customer services through out my journey; as me calling the Air hostess and them ignoring me by purposely not listening or just simply ignoring.
Air India provides such great things such as; pillows, blanket and an entertainable television/ computer. They had put some latest magazines and newsletters to keep busy for whiles. Although I never had a really great experience flying through Air India; I would still recommend it to anyone because firstly it's cheap, and secondly it's valuable for atleast flying comfortably.
Email to Air India: "I am writing this email with much despair to discuss our recent experience on Air India flight from Ahmedabad to London Heathrow via Mumbai. Before booking the flight we clearly specified a bacinet for our one year old son, but on boarding the flight, we were rudely informed by the supervisor that it will not be offered. After further discussion, the response from the supervisor was: "You get what you pay for, there will be no child seat and we will not do anything about the bacinet, we will not even move your wife and son to a bigger seat in business class even if the seats are available because you get what you paid for" - what kind of a response is that!! I was not only shocked but horrifed, we were not travelling for free and to be treated like this is not only extremely rude, but simply unacceptable. I seriously think you should improve your processes and provide some training to staff on not only manners, but proper customer service. We were given one of your older plan with smaller seats, due to some techincal problems on that day, but why should we suffer and bear the brunt of your frustration.
Not only that, there was no food for the infant for the duration of that flight, we were informed that we had to book it 24 hours in advance (which we were not aware we had to do), but to offer nothing no food for the child at all (not even milk) during the duration of a 9 hour flight is totally unacceptable. Also some of your food for adults was stale and not acceptable for human consumption.
I can only hope that you will improve your services sooner rather than later, but at the moment I am in no mood to travel with Air India anytime soon."
Travelled to cochin from london last week. No issues on such. But yes, they would have to improve on the air hostesses' standards. Apart from that smooth seamless flight. Would recommend to others, and yes, would travel from London on it in the future if needed.
I must begin by saying it was about 10 years ago when I travelled with Air India - I flew from London to Chicago, USA and it was only about £130 for a return ticket. However, the memory has stayed with me for so long that I will never ever again travel with them!!
At first the Journey was fine. Not enough room, but thats normal for me. Halfway through the Flight they offered me Food and because I hadn't eaten much I chose the Chicken. It wasn't very nice to eat but I was hungry.
About an hour and a half before Landing I started to feel rather ill. I put this down to the fact that I'm not a very good Traveller, even when I started to throw up profusely. I figured that once I hit solid ground I would be fine. However, 2 hours after landing I was still throwing up and had somehow made my way to an Internal Flight Lounge where they insisted on calling the Paramedics.
I was sent to Hospital where it was confirmed that I had Food Poisoning and that it had to have been something that I had eaten in the past 12 hours - Which narrowed it down to only one thing, the Chicken on Board the Aeroplane.
I ended up being in Hospital for 3 days, although luckily my Insurance covered most of it.
Air India is the worst airline I have ever Travelled, and I travel rather a lot. The Plane's smell of goodness knows what, it's bumpy (although I realise that can't always be controlled), the Pilot's don't seem to know what a decent Landing is and the Cabin Crew do not seem to care at all.
Would never ever recommend!!!
I don't recommend Air India anyone. It's the worst airline I ever saw. They often change the schedule and don't care if you are not informed about it. Air India can't work with passengers. They close their gates too early and serviceman are never available after the counter is closed. Air India often deny their passengers. I will never book a flight with Air India.
Truly miserable experience.
Pre-flight service was a bad start... had my flight destination changed and the flight number changed. Got an email about this which was not clear so tried to call the customer service number... didn't work for the week prior to my flight. Used the online 'form' to email customer services.... no reply!!
With low expectations i arrived at LHR for a flight to Newark (was JFK but not anymore). SAS ground staff made a joke about AI, obviously common knowledge that they are not good at customer service.
In flight was a nightmare. Plane was antique.. panels missing, holes in the ceiling However, it was the filth that annoyed me. The plane had real ground in dirt, stains on the seats and carpet, panels really stained. However old an aircraft is surely you can keep it clean! My lights were faulty and permenantly on... my IFE screen broke 2 hours in to my flight (on outbound flight it was shared screens). Wine was foul. Only saving grace was good food, but that wasn't enough to leave me with anything but a very foul taste in my mouth after 7 miserable hours. Never again!
The general perception about Air India is that it is one of the horrible carriers, with ugly looking air hostesses serving food with bad attitude. This perception is completely wrong. Actually, entire system is rotten. Starting from over booking, checkin, service and condition of aircraft. I managed to fly with them 4 times from London to Bombay - India.
Last time I booked ticket 1 month before to make sure that I get bassinette seat for my 7 months old baby. They told me that if you come early, you will get one.. So, I came 4.5 hour before departure to get hold of bassinette seat. But check-in staff started laughing, informing that Air-India does not have such concept at all. As I called Air-India office 1 week before flying, and they still confirmed my seating arrangement as bassinette. So their support staff lied to me. If I had known such scenario, I would cancel that flight and fly with other airline. I complained, but with no response. They told me that it is up to me if I want to fly with them..
In my return journey, they changed the flight time and did not inform us. When I complained, they told me that they only call local Bombay numbers, not outside Bombay numbers. Stupid people.
So, I will NEVER fly with them again, and don't advise anyone to fly with them. Pay bit extra and get Jet Airways or Virgin or British Airways if you are going to India from UK or US.
Air India - quite simply never again! I had a bad experience with Air India 12 years ago. Our flight from LHR to BOM had been delayed by 4 hours and as a result we missed our train to Auragabad - and Air India staff were generally no where to be seen despite promises that they would help from the staff at LHR.
Anyway, 12 years later, in February 2008, I needed a flight to Amritsar and Air India were coming in nearly £200 cheaper than Jet. In hindsight, I can understand why.
A week before flying, I received a call from the travel agent saying that flight would be leaving a day later due to mechanical problems. You woud think they could repair a plane in a week - but the advanced notice was appreciated.
Got to check in nice and early - around 3 hours before the flight - and started queueing. Eventually got to a desk - where we waited for over 1.5 hours. They eventually explained that they could get us to Delhi but were struggling with the connecting flight to Amritsar. They eventually said that they had found seats for us on our connecting flight - but would not issue the boarding passes for that flight in London (I was starting to get a bad feeling about this). They then said that as we had been at the check in desk so long, they had lost our places in the London flight as well - and that they would have to split up the 3 of us all over the flight. Two of our party were in their 70s - and one was clearly disabled - so this was not acceptable, especially after having followed all the rules and got to check in at a very good time.
The flight eventually took off an hours late - which was fine for us - as we were still at check in 10 minutes before the orginal departure time!
The girl at check-in also suggested that this overbooking on flights connecting rthough Delhi happened daily and it made her life a misery with passengers complaining. She said she was grateful that at least we had styed well mannered. She also suggested, that in future if we were to go to Amritsar, we should use Jet Airways! A recommendation for Jet Airways from an Air India staff member says enough really!
The plane looked very old and surely needed a refit - there are only so many ripped seats and falling trays that you can put up with. The food was reasonable and the staff reasonably polite. I have had worse from BA staff previously.
Anyway, eventually got to Delhi and guess what, our onward flight to Amristar was overbooked and Air India were offering taxis instead - a 12 hour taxi journey. What is the purpose of booking a flight to Amristar if you are going to have to take a cab from Delhi. If I wanted to fly to Delhi, I would have saved my self £150 and gone with a relatively decent airline such as Virgin or BA. Maybe next time Air India will just offer taxis from London!
The guy issuing taxis had clearly been doing this regularly - so I suspect Air India are making money on this by charging for connecting flights which they are clearly unable to provide.
Anyway, finally agreed to take a 12 hour tax to Amritsar.
The journey back was relatively ok - had to reconfirm - which I have never understood - but called the London Air India office to do this and got through within a couple of minutes. 12 years ago they asked that we visit am Air India office in India, waste half a day queueing their, get shouted at and eventually get a flight reconfirmed. So they are getting better.
Would I recommend Air India? NEVER. This is one airline that needs to be allowed to go bankrupt or privatised immediately. They are a disgrace to India and should not be allowed to fly their flag. Despite India's progress over the past decade, Air India truly remains a third world carrier.
If I need to fly to Amritsar, it has to be Jet - as recommeded by Air India staff - and quite frankly, I would prefer the two Soviet airlines that fly there in future (Turkmen and Uzbek) than going with Air India again. If I am flying to Delhi, then please see sense and use any of the many airlines that fly there.
Air India is cheap for a reason - and I will be making sure that neither I nor anyone I know will ever go near them again. And I was one of the people that used to stand up to people criticising Air India - but they truly are a shambles - and the worst of it is that they really don't care.
You have been warned!
What a nightmare to (try to) fly Air India from Frankfurt to Los Angeles on March 1, 2008. The "40 minute repair problem" turned into a 180 minute problem and eventually, the flight was canceled. Passengers were booked into a Frankfurt hotel and promised to be flown to LAX the next day. Wishful thinking: the plane was grounded. The info flow to passengers was sub-zero. No AI represenative was seen, neither on 2/29 nor on 3/1.Questions to Air India in Mumbai about the refund procedure for the unused airfare have to date not been answered.In the future: Air India - no thanks.
If you have lots of time,holidays to waste with horrable Air India So you can travel by AI. Just two week before i had travell with Air India from heathrow to Mumbai............Shortly i like to say.....during my tiring and unorganished manangement from check in to end of travelling at Mumbai i been derived defination for Air India from its short abbriviation to full version like AI means Always Inconvinience.......... I been travel third time with hope now it may improve from last 4 years but it Always Inconvience........ Never travel Air India ------------------- otherwise your dreams to visit India will fly in Air........ Believe me spend some more money to other Air line to save your energy and time.