File this in the cabinet of those small things that Air India made a big mess out of. It seems, from various news reports, all originating from the Times of India, that the airline has received a complaint from the Renaissance London hotel near London Heathrow about some crew packing up boxes for later consumption of the breakfast buffet. They state:
Titled, ‘A buffet is not a takeaway’, the warning note was sent on Monday by an assistant general manager (AGM) of the in-flight service department. It said: “We have received an unfortunate email from the management of hotel in London stating that some AI crew members regularly come down for breakfast with empty boxes into which they fill food items from the buffet, presumably to eat later.”
The letter warned that AI would be forced to take serious disciplinary action against the offenders, adding that “we are aware that this could be a very small minority indulging in such a behaviour”. “This may include, not being scheduled on international sectors, as we have no desire to allow the reputation of Air India to be tarnished by a handful of such individuals,” the note warned.
Now, I see a wide variety of press on this which has mindlessly picked on this report and published it perhaps because they needed the masala. I reached out to some AI crew hoping I could see the letter first hand, but no success so far. But this letter seems to be unfair on the crew for a whole lot of reasons. Let me explain:
- To an extent, everybody does it. I frequently see people bring a fruit or two or some cookies back to the room for later. If there is a lounge in a hotel I have access to, I’ve always brought about my water from there, unless it was already provided in the room. Unless the hotel really saw steel or plastic boxes being filled up from the buffet en masse for a party later, their note was not required. They could have just put a note at their restaurant asking people to consume what they want at the buffet but not take it out of the restaurant.
- The hotel does not have a fancy buffet in the first place. I’ve stayed at this particular Renaissance back in the day, and I have to admit it is a trashy hotel. That is what costs 70 GBP in London after all (retail price). I’ve partaken in their buffet, and it is just the usual continental stuff. Breads, Salamis, Cold Cuts, Juices, Coffee/Tee and Fruits. They did not have the spreads of a Taj or a Ritz Carlton or a Park Hyatt anyways last I checked. So if someone carried a couple of slices of bread to their room, I don’t see how it makes a difference. Someone paid for it, and it was not the hotel.
- The Airline acted way out of line. I don’t know who outed this letter to the media, but if it exists, it is in poor taste. Period! Writing demarches is not in the best interest of staff moral, specially when an airline such as Air India already suffers from the lack of credibility. Everyone’s eyes should be on the goal to improve credibility, not doubt the credibility of their staff just because someone wrote a letter or an email, and you had to do something about it because you are sarkaari and you had to show you took action. It is one thing to sit in a seat everyday and type such emails, but it is a totally different thing to be on your feet for 12 hours or more and be in a different time zone trying to rustle up an appetite at the right time.
- Air India needs their people to build their image, without them they are nothing. We all poke fun at Air India. It is a case of an airline which was world class at a point of time but has lost its ground because of the bureaucratic attitude of the people at the top and their political masters, and the non-accountability that percolated down the line. How about the airline puts them up in a better hotel and pays them well enough from the money I pay as taxes to the government of India and boost their morale rather than shove these missives down their throat.
There are tonnes of things wrong with Air India, but I don’t think this deserved the coverage it did, and deserves the juicy bites it is getting. Come on guys. Grow up!
Moreover, all that food is anyways going in a waste dump if not consumed. There is no reason to go on a hyperbole about it and say if an Air Indian did it, it must be wrong!
What are your views on this? I was not going to write about this but I’ve heard from enough people to laugh over it because it’s Air India involved. Like I said earlier, Not Cool!
What do you think the airline and the hotel did were right? Or was it the crew in the right place?