Air India’s system’s go down in Delhi, Y pax help themselves to Biz class seats

Earlier this week, I was in Delhi for a quick trip for a day, and I was on my way back to Mumbai yesterday. Circumstances changed and hence I wanted to be on an earlier flight than what I booked myself on (From 10 AM departure to 9 AM departure). Thank god for mileage redemptions, AI did not create a fuss and gave me a ticket on an earlier flight since they saw space there, once I arrived at the airport. However, that may have been one of the last things that their reservation system, installed by SITA, did for them.

After a coffee and some breakfast, I headed to board the flight and it all looked okay. There were only computerised boarding pass stubs had been cut out, however the checkin was being done manually. Being Air India, it did not ring a bell. I’ve seen them do this many a times when they are in a rush, and they also don’t bother with priority boarding then. It is just everyone, on the plane, NOW!

It was 0830 hours and I waited on the plane till 0900, then till 0920 to have a chat with the FA, who did not seem to know why the plane did not move yet. At 0940 she comes back to tell me that there is a crash of the Departure Control System and hence everything was being done manually.

This also seemed to add up to the story where everyone was coming on the flight in short bursts of 2 and 3 people and everyone carried a manual boarding pass. The plane was now in free seating.

The interesting byproduct of this was, a group of 6 passengers who were travelling as a family, who somehow coerced the staff to allow them to sit in the business section. There were other economy passengers who also helped them to business class seats and I think I counted at least 8 pax with Economy Class boarding passes who upgraded themselves to the business class section.

Quite made me feel at pain with having really paid a lot of miles to get there, while others just helped themselves to the business cabin for free.

Having said that, Air India of course palmed the blame on SITA, and said SITA systems were down globally

Yawn! Of course not. The problem was local, and only limited to Air India in Delhi. I’m still confused on if I should feel lucky that I got into Mumbai at 12 noon, which was my original flight schedule, or should I feel burnt for having spent double miles for getting that ticket in business class, while 8 people got there for free!

Another day, another Air India mismanagement I frown upon!

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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.

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  1. @Pauland @Roland Scheckter-
    1st of all if India was so poor and a “third world country” m nt sure why the so called “first world class” are crying when their “jobs” are outsorced–keep thinking about that or look up in a dictionary if some terms confuse u 😛

    Second SiTA is not an Indian based co. – whose system was down it is a “multinational” (see dictionaryagain for the meaning) co. with headquarters in Geneva . SITA manages the DCS system — Not only for Indian Airlines but for a lot many “first world country airlines/airports” and Technical snags can happen (Duh – Feels like m explaining to five year olds)

    I think what Ajay’s point here is to highlight issues that cause discomfort to passengers and share his views with us – so lets be a bit matured and keep discussion limited to that 🙂 cheers

  2. Have you flied international AI business? Almost always, the seats are not full, and when the plane is about to take off they’ll bring in at least a couple of economy passengers into business class. I have traveled AI business to NYC 4 times and it has happened every single time.

  3. @Ajay..and what is your problem in that. Its not that those passengers (whom you think are cattle class) sabotaged the computer system or threw you away from your cozy business class. Neither you booked whole of forward cabin to yourself..So I fail to understand what is that you are pouting about. In hindsight, its not that you spend your money/miles for all the travels you undertake. there is a contribution of other people who provides hits to your blog or provide you free referral money. Whole idea of miles/points blog is to identify the loopholes and travel luxuriously without getting on the other side of law. so stop being mean and elitist.

    • @DS I am not pouting, for one. And yes, the money for my travel comes from my own pocket. As for this incident, these were people who just sat there in business class and given the crunch on resources for AI that day, they did not make too much effort in sending them over to their ticketed cabin. I would be very happy if the cabin was full but everyone there was seated in their ticketed cabin!

  4. Whether India falls into a 3rd world or not and which legacy carriers of 1st world are better/worse than AI is a different debate.
    What puzzles me is how AI always finds new ways to get in trouble. Never heard about this issue with Jet or Indigo, both of which are close to world class airlines (Jet once definitely was). Flight cancellations, perennial Dream Liner issues, Tyre Burst and so forth.
    While this may happen to any airline, but I wonder how Air India is always the “Chosen Carrier for all Problems”

  5. @Ajay
    It’s time not to frown upon Indian based Airlines but to bring up issues of BA, Air France, etc. I have traveled both these airlines, and trust me, I swear not to do so again. The airlines from the so called ‘First World’ countries have as poor systems, generation old aircrafts and third grade staff.

  6. @Ajay Awtaney
    Who do you think you’re fooling? It is, and most people in the western world view it as one of the most challenged ones aswell. Keywords: 1 billion inhabitants, a medieval caste system, widespread extreme poverty, non-existent women rights etc. etc.

  7. To be expected when flying/working/doing business with third-world countries – it’s still the wild west and unless you own the plane, you are just another nob to be ignored.

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