Missed Flight, Delayed Flights and Air Deccan

I have written about things that are wrong with South India too (2 or 3 posts at that). Please do not treat this post as some kinda “North vs South” post. No offence meant.

At the end of last post, I wrote about on a week long travel for a programming contest in IIT Kanpur and Coimbatore. The programming contest went great; we came second (lost first place by three minutes). If the documents come through, my team will go to Tokyo for world finals of the same event in March. Wish us luck :). But the journey as worse as it could get. The journey was well planned to accommodate delays with our flights and trains. If anyone even hinted on what could happen with delayed trains and flights, i would have remarked, “surely, you are joking Mr. Murphy”

The journey to Kanpur and back well planned. Flight from Chennai to Delhi, Train from Delhi to Kanpur and retrace the same route back. Chennai to Delhi flight was delayed by twenty minutes. That did not effect me at all. The flight was suppose to reach Delhi at 6:45 PM and the train was at 11:50 PM. The flight was delayed nevertheless. Took a taxi to New Delhi railway station, hunted out a decent restraunt in about 40 mins, had my dinner and went back to the railway station. The train arrived on time. I was surprised about pre-recorded messages over the public announcement system in New Delhi railway station for delayed trains. Never heard such pre-recorded announcements in Bangalore or Chennai Railway Stations. I figured, if Laloo and Nitish Kumar keep adding train from Bihar /Jharkand to Delhi, this was bound to happen. Next day, when I woke up, I was told that the train is late by about 3 hrs to Kanpur. The contest was on following day, so no harm done here either. For the record, both the train and the flight were delayed.Return journey was eventful to say the least. The plan was simple, leave Kanpur by 9:15 pm train, reach Delhi at 4:10 am, catch the flight at 9:00 am and reach Chennai at about 11:30 am. I reached the Kanpur Station at about 9 pm. The board display the train delay by 30 minutes. After that, it become 1 hour, then 1 and a half hours and finally the train arrives at 11:30 PM because of engine failure at Laknow, it was running on Diesel Engine. It leaves Kanpur at 12:30 am. Owing to initial delays, it stops at every station to let the “on-time” trains pass by and the train is pushed back further on schedule. I wake up at 7 am and co-pasangers tell me that train wil reach Delhi only at 11:30. I grew increasingly frustrated as a train makes a stop for 1 hour to let seven Rajdhani express pass. Missing the flight was inevitable as the train is limping towards Delhi. Finally, it reaches Delhi at 12:30 PM.

I rush to Airport to find out that only the taxes in the flight ticket can be reimbursed. I made inquiries about cost to fly to Chennai. Thankfully, I had just about sufficient money to travel to Chennai. I find that Go Air has one ticket left but they do not accept Debit Cards. I rush to an ATM and by the time I get back, that ticket is taken. Yet again, I go back to ATM and withdraw some more to book flight for a little costlier Air Deccan. The flight was suppose to leave Delhi at 7:55 PM. Tired and frustrated, I wait all alone for about 4 hours in the Airport hoping nothing worse happens. But….. it does.

I wait for an Hour or more in the Lounge, waiting for Air Deccan to announce boarding. The flight is suppose to leave at 7:55 pm and at 7:50 they announce a delay of 30 mins. I wait for 10 mins more, and get on the bus. The bus goes to the Aircraft and they say that it is being cleaned, please get back. The bus comes back, I wait for 10 more minutes in the bus and then it goes to aircraft again. This time we (me and other passengers) board the air craft. Again, they announce the delay of 30 minutes to correct a technical snag. Fifteen minutes later, they annouce that they are going to abandon the aircraft. I don’t know, but I have never heard of air craft being abandoned and passengers asked to change airplanes. I mean, It’s not a bus. We get down, board the bus again and the driver leaves us at domestic arrival. Even before I could inquire about being dropped in domestic arrival, all the other passengers leave the bus. Having no clue, I follow them. The CISF refused the permission to go out of the same gate. Meanwhile, some other passenger start shouting at the helpless Air Deccan official without getting any work done. Left without any choice, we get out of airport and get back in through the departure gate. We were reissued boarding pass and went though security check again standing in the queue for over an hour. When the plane took off, it was 11:30 PM. It was suppose to reach Chennai at 10:30 PM. Despite asking for a complementary food after all this, the air-hostess refused. I reached Chennai at 2 am i guess, and I was in my hostel by 3 am.

I also happened to read the Air Deccan’s cost cutting techniques in one of their in-flight books. I find it “ok”, if they don’t serve food in a 3 hour flight, or rent their spaces in the cabin for ads. But, they also claim that they keep the planes flying as much as they can to avid the rent to paid to the Airport to keep the planes. This time the technical snag was found and air deccan is fairly new, three years. What about next time? Most of disasters that happen is due to poor maintanence of the Aircrafts. I would mind paying thousand bucks more if they can assure me that the plane will not crash. I am really apprehensive about flying in a low-cost airline again. Not matter what, Air-Deccan in particular is out of question. They claim 98% flight run on time. On time is delay of up to 2 hrs. The average flying time in India is 2 hrs. People take flight to save time. These low cost carriers simply do not serve the purpose. From what I hear, this is not an isolated incident. Air Deccan has had their expertise in annoying passengers since their inception. The funniest one being a Techie who received an sms saying he missed a flight even with a boarding pass in hand. Seriously, do not even consider flying Air Deccan when you plan a journey.

Some other experiences from the travel:

In the first flight from Chennai to Delhi, I happen to sit beside a Navy guy working in Car Nicobar islands. He kept a good company. Beside him was a woman in her 40s. She was sitting up-right though out the journey. The navy guy asked her to lean back when she talked about a accident she had some years ago because of which he can’t lean. If she does, she can suffer from a shooting pain in the back which last last upto a week. It was indeed a sad way to begin a journey. Then in the next train to Kanpur, I was with a family in which an elderly couple were talking about a case of cancer that one of their relatives in suffering from. Apparently, it was a cancer int he stoamch which had spread to the liver. The patient had under gone 12 operations and a chemotherapy. Though I did not speak to them, I did keep me depressed until i went to sleep.

In Kanpur, to go from railway station to IIT Kanpur, I boarded a bus. I paid 10 bucks for the ticket, and the conductors gives me a ticket for 1 buck. I asked him for a ten buck ticket. He claimed that what he gave was a ten buck ticket. I showed him “Ek Rupay” and “Re 1” written clearly there. He argued back saying that the minimum fare is 3 bucks, one rupee ticket got printed by mistake and it is worth ten bucks. I argued with him for nearly five minutes telling him that he was corrupt. He did not listen. I ended the argument saying him and i both know that he was cheating. Seriously, I have had such experience before in Bangalore but it been with 1 rupee tickets. It has never happened in Chennai. The conductors are too prompt. But here, I was cheated off 9 rupees. I may be generalizing here, but the fact that South India is more developed than the north doesn’t surprise me at all after this incident.

Coming back from IIT Kanpur to railway station, i hired an auto. Mid-way two policemen stepped in and got out when their destination had arrived with paying the driver. When I asked driver about it, he replied, “Kanpur hai, kya kare? (it’s kanpur, what can i do?)” I have never seen traffic cops or any other cop do this is Bangalore or in Chennai. India is lawless, but North India is way more lawless than South India.

Had been to Coimbatore (another venue) for for the same programming contest couple of days later. Then Hampi and Goa for the new years. After that to Coimbatore again for a trek. Saarang happened in my college for last 5 days. Will post pictures if possible. Till then, cya!

PS: Never travel Air Deccan