Air India Express Professional and Kind last night

I’ve been on the road a lot last month, sometimes with last-minute plans. With traffic going through the roof in the second half of November 2023 and the weather turning colder in North India, delays have happened. However, I saw my first big delay of the season last night. But this is not about the delay but how the airline handled it.

I was booked to fly Air India Express from Bengaluru to Delhi last evening on I5 1532, which usually departs at 6:10 PM and arrives in Delhi at 9:05 PM. It’s perfect to hit the sack by 10:30 PM after no sleep overnight. But it wasn’t meant to be.

While I wasn’t looking, it seems some congestion built up at Delhi Airport, which caused a lot of flights to be delayed. In the Air Traffic Flow Management paradigm, which Air Traffic Control has adopted in India for many years now, aircraft at departing airports are supposed to take permission/slot/clearance from arriving airports to ensure that they are not circling in the air, burning fuel (unless for some sudden weather or other situation which might happen after the plane is already airborne).

So that meant that Delhi Airport had to clear our departure from Bengaluru (apart from Bengaluru itself). And Delhi told all the evening flights from Bengaluru to hold at Bengaluru itself rather than take off. All airlines were affected, not just AIX.

Here is IndiGo…

a screenshot of a computer

Air India…

a building with a dome and trees a screenshot of a flight status


a close up of a flight schedule a screenshot of a flight schedule

and Air India Express.

a white rectangular object with a black border

We were all seated in the plane, and then came the announcement from the Captain, who told us that due to ATC Congestion at Delhi, instead of departing at 18:10, we would depart at 18:50 hours. At about 19:00 hours, when we had still not moved, he came back and updated on the PA system that they still did not have an OK from Delhi to depart and that the new departure time would be 19:45 hours. All this while, we were still on the plane, and the doors were still open.

The cabin crew was nice enough to come around repeatedly, offering everyone water. Seated in the first row, I saw more water bottles being handed over to the cabin crew over and over by the ground staff.

However, after the second announcement of a delay, I saw the cabin crew pull out the carts, and they asked passengers if they wanted to have some noodles. The first few hesitated, wondering if the airline wanted to make a buck while still on the ground. But that was not the case; the airline was offering them free of charge.

a package of instant noodles on a laptop

The crew went around and emptied three carts of noodles in the cabin, and not just that, there were people who declined but later accepted their offer and were handed out noodles.

Now, I’m not sure how other airlines would have handled it, but having buy-on-board catering helped in this case. Noodles are the easiest sold items on all Indian no-frill carriers, so airlines usually carry enough, hoping to sell them on at least one flight of the four or five rotations the aircraft makes daily when flying domestically.

But I’ve seen far too many times that Indian airlines do not respond to their customers in these cases and would blame regulatory reasons for not “serving” the passengers anything but water. Social media is littered with posts every day about such stuff.

Was it necessary? Not in my view. As per the Civil Aviation Requirements, Section 3 – Air Transport Series M Part IV, also known as the Passenger Charter, the airlines shall provide free meals and refreshments when the passenger has checked in on time and if the airline expects a delay beyond 3 hours or more in case of flights having a block time of more than 2 ½ hrs and up to 5 hours.

My flight was at 2:55 hours, so the airline was supposed to offer these if my flight was delayed over 3 hours (take off at 9 pm or later). However, at no point in time did this happen, and the airline did not wait for the announcement for the three-hour mark. They offered at the one-hour mark itself.

a package of instant noodles on a laptop

The last time an airline opened up its carts and served up a meal without asking was in the US for me, and I do remember back in 2014 or so, when SpiceJet used to be terribly delayed, they handed out boxes of biryani to everyone on the plane. Apart from that, customer service has been scarce on aircraft for passengers, and more often than not, customers are left to fend for themselves in these situations.

The Indian Civil Aviation Regulator fined Air India a sum of INR 10 Lakhs in November 2023 for not doing enough for customers during these times, so I don’t know if this action flowed from there or from the goodness of the heart of the people of Air India Express. I would like to believe the latter (because I believe in this airline), but it could also be the former.

Either way, I’m sure the customers of Air India Express on that flight last night did appreciate the gesture and might just come back on this no-frills carrier because of this slice-of-life experience where they did not have to ask the airline for anything but got it anyway, which is a rarity in the world of aviation these days.


No bottomline really. Air India Express dished out good customer service in the case of a delay not caused by them (airlines and airports hate delays as much as we do, or even more!). Most of the time, customers are left to fend for themselves, and airlines offer water but no more in the case of delays while not letting the customers out of the plane (which is understandable).

What do you think of Air India Express as an airline, and what has been your experience with domestic flight delays by airlines recently?

Liked our articles and our efforts? Please pay an amount you are comfortable with; an amount you believe is the fair price for the content you have consumed. Please enter an amount in the box below and click on the button to pay; you can use Netbanking, Debit/Credit Cards, UPI, QR codes, or any Wallet to pay. Every contribution helps cover the cost of the content generated for your benefit.

(Important: to receive confirmation and details of your transaction, please enter a valid email address in the pop-up form that will appear after you click the ‘Pay Now’ button. For international transactions, use Paypal to process the transaction.)

We are not putting our articles behind any paywall where you are asked to pay before you read an article. We are asking you to pay after you have read the article if you are satisfied with the quality and our efforts.

About Ajay

Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

More articles by Ajay »


  1. It’s just your experience.. for me, they kept delaying the flight from delhi to lko , lying all through to passengers that in 15 min- it will take off!!! They took off after 14 hour delay , with just a small juice pack and a cookie.
    They did not follow any hotel compensation or money back!!
    Will never fly!!! Terrible experience

  2. I would say that AIX to be fair has been quite nice.

    Back in October I had to travel from BOM to BLR and the airline crew were handing out small water bottles to every passenger at the time of boarding and this is not something no frill carriers are known to do..

    Now this is not to say other LCCs don’t do it (quite sure they do) but it was the proactiveness to give and do without any prompting that’s to be noted here

    It might be a small thing but then these small gestures do really help

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *