Your letters and online posts
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