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I spend a lot of time on this fo­rum crit­i­cis­ing and I thought as it’s Fri­day I would give a big thumbs up to the air­port and its staff in Delhi.

There has al­ways been a big dif­fer­ence in time spent at the air­port when ar­riv­ing into Delhi to when leav­ing due to band­ing all pas­sen­gers to­gether when leav­ing to sep­a­rat­ing lo­cals from for­eign pass­port hold­ers when ar­riv­ing.

The last cou­ple of times ar­riv­ing into Delhi has been a dream, from air­craft to car a max­i­mum of 15 min­utes which is great, but have waited about one hour and at worst 90 min­utes in a queue to get out due to ev­ery­one go­ing through the same chan­nels leav­ing and this causes all sorts of de­lays.

Last night when check­ing in on­line for my SQ flight back to Sin­ga­pore I noted the flight was to­tally full and was ex­pect­ing a long night. Imag­ine my sur­prise when col­lect­ing my ticket at the counter SQ had up­graded me (first time in seven years of us­ing them) and as I walked through to what is nor­mally the may­hem of im­mi­gra­tion, I noted an or­derly queue, and I was through im­mi­gra­tion, se­cu­rity and in the lounge in eight min­utes!

The staff were friendly, en­gag­ing and the whole process was amaz­ing, so well done ev­ery­one at the air­port, it seems In­dia IS duly open for busi­ness. I’ve been through IGIA about six times in each di­rec­tion, in­ter­na­tional and do­mes­tic flights. Con­sid­er­ing the bad press that In­dia gets, I’ve al­ways felt it was a far bet­ter and more or­gan­ised ex­pe­ri­ence than ex­pected. In­di­ans are ex­tra­or­di­nary peo­ple with a grace and de­cency that puts a lot of western na­tions to shame, and whilst I can un­der­stand that for some peo­ple a visit to In­dia can be an over­whelm­ing and al­most fright­en­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, I’ve al­ways en­joyed my stays there. On my first visit I wrote this some­what tongue-incheek ac­count :

My first im­pres­sion on ar­rival at Indira Gandhi In­ter­na­tional Air­port in Delhi was of in­cred­i­ble heat, even at one o’clock in the morn­ing, dust, and bus­tle. This I soon got used to, but the feel­ing that took many days to go away was of be­ing sur­rounded by thou­sands of peo­ple do­ing non-stop im­per­son­ations of Peter Sellers. I kept won­der­ing when they were go­ing to start talk­ing ‘nor­mally’.

There was no sign of the driver who was sup­posed to meet me with a plac­ard bear­ing my name, but half an hour later and after many in­creas­ingly ir­ri­tat­ing ap­proaches from taxi touts, I went to the driver who was hold­ing the sign with the name least un­like mine: Mr. Chris­tiansen. I had ruled out ‘Di­eter Al­brechts’, ‘Mr. & Mrs. Stevens’, and ‘Vladislav Fe­dovski’ as to­tally im­pos­si­ble, even in a coun­try where any­thing seemed pos­si­ble. My in­tu­ition was cor­rect. The driver greeted me like a long lost friend and be­gan the usual to­tally un­in­hib­ited In­dian in­qui­si­tion as we set off for my lux­ury ho­tel, where the price of a beer would feed a fam­ily of four for a day. After pre­tend­ing not to know the ho­tel, one of Delhi’s land­marks, he in­formed me that it had can­celled all reser­va­tions due to the ar­rival of a group from the United Na­tions, but of­fered to take me to a ho­tel of equal, if not su­pe­rior, stan­dard, where a friend of his worked, and which would cost me only a few pounds a night. I as­sured him that I had re­con­firmed my reser­va­tion and that my room was held. He in­sisted that it wasn’t. I solved the prob­lem by telling him that if we ar­rived to find my room un­avail­able I would give him `2,000 ru­pees (the aver­age monthly earn­ing for an In­dian taxi driver) and al­low him to take me to his friend’s ho­tel. This shut him up for a while.

We were trav­el­ling in one of In­dia’s ubiq­ui­tous Hin­dus­tan Am­bas­sadors, a 1930’s de­sign which has barely changed over the years, and which, to mis­quote Henry Ford, is avail­able in any shade of grey. The horn never stopped blar­ing as we wove our way past, or rather, through, the whirling mael­stroms of an­cient cars, rick­shaws, un­lit but gar­ishly dec­o­rated lor­ries loom­ing out of the dust and belch­ing evil smelling smoke blacker than the sur­round­ing night, cows, and sui­ci­dal pedes­tri­ans. The rule of the road is driv­ing on the left. What this means is ‘drive on any part of the road­way which is left free’. The only or­der to In­dian driv­ing is chaos, the clos­est I have ex­pe­ri­enced be­ing the dodgem cars at the fun­fair. Most ve­hi­cles have a sign on the back, the com­mon­est be­ing ‘Horn Please’, and ‘Keep Dis­tance’. The con­stant hoot­ing is not ag­gres­sion, but a re­flex more natural to In­dian driv­ers than breathing. The mir­a­cle is that there are so few ac­ci­dents – sadly those that do oc­cur are usu­ally se­ri­ous. Over­tak­ing, or just get­ting into any ve­hi­cle on the over­crowded roads, is sim­ply an act of faith in God – there is no other way to ex­plain it in a coun­try where a two-lane road con­tains four or five lanes of joust­ing traf­fic. Skill and judge­ment do not en­ter the equa­tion. So few ve­hi­cles have tyres with vis­i­ble tread that I won­der if some­where there is a fac­tory pro­duc­ing slicks for the In­dian mar­ket. Lights are a rare lux­ury, the most im­por­tant piece of equip­ment on any ve­hi­cle be­ing a pow­er­ful and stri­dent horn. When I once needed a re­ally vi­cious horn for my car in Spain, I made a point of buy­ing it in In­dia.

On my first visit to In­dia, the re­sponse by the ho­tel driver to ‘Which side of the road do you drive on’ was ‘EI­THER’. On my sec­ond visit the re­sponse to the same ques­tion was ‘BOTH’. I await with some trep­i­da­tion my up­com­ing third visit.

GOOD NEWS AT BA

Ar­rived in San Diego from LHR yesterday. Ex­cel­lent crew and much bet­ter wines in first. More im­por­tantly one of the cap­tains (three on this flight) came to talk to me. This has not hap­pened to me since their in­au­gu­ral 747 400 de­vel­oped a fault from LAX to LHR back in the early 1980’s and di­verted to Montreal. Very pleased to be recog­nised and ob­vi­ously ap­pre­ci­ated. Very chuffed! A small ges­ture BUT a big way to make us want to fly BA again. Well a few weeks back trav­el­ling from BCN (Barcelona) to HKG (Hong Kong) on CX’s (Cathay Pacific’s) new summer ser­vice we were de­layed by an hour first be­cause Swiss port had lost some pa­per­work and then Air Traf­fic Con­trol had lost the CX flight plan. Dur­ing the wait I asked the Cabin Crew Man­ager if the Cap­tain could up­date us as there was no in­for­ma­tion and on the nose wheel cam­era I could see seven/eight peo­ple hud­dled in a group around the land­ing gear so thought “do we have a prob­lem”. Al­most im­me­di­ately the Cap­tain up­dated us on the above and within five min­utes we were off. About 30 min­utes into the flight the Cap­tain came to my seat to apol­o­gise for not keep­ing peo­ple in­formed but he was talk­ing to Air Traf­fic Con­trol to sort it out as Air Traf­fic Con­trol had given away CX’s slot when the flight plan was mis­laid. BCN Air Traf­fic Con­trol were em­bar­rassed to say the least. Any­way a 15 minute con­ver­sa­tion en­sued and he was keen for me to know what the prob­lem was. A nice touch and in­vari­ably peo­ple can deal with “bad news” bet­ter than not get­ting any news at all. When I left the plane in HKG I stuck my head into the flight deck with per­mis­sion from the Cabin Crew Man­ager to say thank you again. If only other com­pa­nies would un­der­stand that good com­mu­ni­ca­tion takes the sting out of any com­plaint when han­dled well.

I don’t see why it’s “good news at BA” when a very ex­pen­sive pre­mium ser­vice de­liv­ers what it is meant to de­liver. The cap­tain com­ing out and speak­ing to pas­sen­gers is a nice touch, but it’s not unique by any means to BA. I was on an easyJet flight a cou­ple of weeks ago and the cap­tain came out to speak to a pas­sen­ger in the front row who was ex­tremely ner­vous and had been up­set by a cou­ple of bumps as we went through some light tur­bu­lence on climb-out.

“Man buys fresh loaf of bread at Waitrose su­per­mar­ket.” Does that grab any at­ten­tion? Nor should : “BA first class had ex­cel­lent crew wines.”

POST K1ngston DATE Au­gust 11, 2017 03:19 capeto­ni­anm Au­gust 11, 2017 13:14

BPP Au­gust 11, 2017 18:35 POST K1ngston DATE Au­gust 10, 2017 05:32 CathayLoy­al­ist2 Au­gust 10, 2017 13:16 capeto­ni­anm Au­gust 10, 2017 16:56

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