Air India’s website crashes during repatriation flights booking

OMG. I just can’t believe what I saw last evening, so I had to sleep on it before writing about it. Air India, the sole airline which can be used right now to fly outside of India, had a vast lineup of flights to offer, up to 70+ just to North America on this round of their sale. Since there were more flights, there were also more hopes that people would be able to buy them smoothly and move on with their lives.

Air India announced that they would start bookings at 5 PM on June 5, and sure enough, they did.

However, Air India did not seem to have scaled up their capacity, even though their new booking system appears to have the ability to do so, with top-of-the-line CDN and cloud infrastructure company Cloudflare running their booking engine now. As a result, their website crashed on everyone who was trying to book. In Indian terms, think IRCTC at 10 AM when bookings open. People were not very happy. Here is the experience of someone I’ve been in touch with during the lockdown, and hence a verified experience.

Here is the experience of a friend, who has been stuck in India since she a few months.

In their defence, Air India pleaded that their website had received 60 million hits in two hours, which is exceptional from their perspective.

Before we get impressed with the hits, hit is not the same as a full website loading and Air India might be just fishing for sympathy talking about the lowest number they could go for. For instance, I counted over 100 hits (each image is a hit, each file they fetch is a hit. Here is a useful reference for what is a hit v/s a pageview.) for the home page of www.airindia.in and I did not even count till the end. Which means, if everyone started their visit to the Air India website there, would be 6 lakh visitors to the Air India website.

60,000,000/100 = 600,000 (6 Lakhs)

Let’s not forget that the Air India website passes you on to the booking engine which has at least 6-8 pages (flight selection, seat selection, passenger details, confirming that you are aware of the rules, payments, ticket generation are some of the ones I can remember from memory) and hence I would imagine, Air India got only a lakh visitors in the first couple of hours, which does not look like a significant number. In which case, it is a pity that Air India’s website crashed with such a small amount of traffic.

For reference, Air India, in a full month, gets between 3-4 million sessions (one session is one complete journey of accessing the website, booking a ticket/check-in/log in to FFP account etc.), which means about 1 lakh a day.

It just means that Air India got days worth of traffic in two hours, which explains the crashing of the website. Still, it does not explain why Air India could not have scaled up their engines, even temporarily, to ensure that everyone got a smooth experience and was able to book tickets.

However, the good news is, as of noon June 6, there are still ample tickets available to head to the USA if you are looking for one. Here is a screengrab from just now for the Mumbai Newark flights.

Bottomline

Air India’s website went flaky just like Mumbai goes flaky at the hint of rain. However, things are back to normal now, and you should be able to book a ticket from India to Europe, USA, Canada, Asia, Australasia if you are looking for one. Don’t wait forever, though, book fast. The app would be a better idea than the website, though.

What was your experience booking tickets via Air India though for one of these repatriation flights?


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Comments

  1. Hi Ajay,

    I am sorry to hear about these stories about how Air India’s website is not working properly during the evacuation flights booking.

    Hoping all those who are booking via the website are successful in their bookings and wish them all the best.

    Having said that, let me tell you about the avaricious nature of the private carriers here in India based on what happened last Saturday:

    I had my Air Asia Flight from BOM-BLR scheduled on 8th June morning, which got cancelled, however when looking for alternate flights from June 15 – June 19 there were no alternate flights available.

    So I selected a date in September so as to ensure that the booking remains safe.

    In the background I had separately booked a GoAir flight on 9th June (morning flight) via a travel agency and it is observed that after selecting the flight and going ahead for the booking, all of a sudden I did not get the confirmed tickets and the same flight was no longer displayed in the flights list. Basically, I payed the money but the confirmation was not received.

    Then later on I got a mail from the travel agency telling me that the booking failed and the amount would be refunded.

    I then again booking another GoAir flight on 9th June (evening flight) directly on the airline’s website and this time the booking was successful.

    However while performing the online check in for this flight, again we got a notification that the flight is cancelled !

    So then the flight was re-scheduled to 11th June.

    It seems that the modus operandi of all the private carriers is to put up a flight for sale, get the money from the passengers, then cancel the flight and make passengers run around for refunds / re-scheduling.

    The avariciousness of these private carriers is not coming fully to light and it’s high time we expose them for what they are.

    Meanwhile, I was checking on Air India for a connecting flight from BOM-DEL and then from DEL-BLR and even though it was more costly, I verified from flightradar24 that these flights were atleast operating and were not cancelled.

    Ironic considering the fact that many believe that privatization increases the efficiency and service of a company, but in this case it seems to be the reverse.

    So even though Air India may have many things wrong with them, they seem to be the ones who are actually operating and doing the work as of now.

    The private carriers cannot even transport passengers properly within India without this ridiculous charade.

    Can one imagine how services would be like if they operated the Vande Bharat missions ?

    Kind Regards.

  2. Never dealing with Air India again. This was my first time and last time flying the airline. I waited this long, I will wait little longer to fly different international flight. Air India is the only airline that never answers the phone, online booking is unstable, employees are rude

  3. What about UK flight? We are waiting from April 20.we want go back to India (Bombay -Maharastra)

  4. Please start the commercial flights as its easy to book through the travel agents. Specially for the people who don’t have internet access.

  5. We are family of 3 traveling to Toronto. I set up my laptop at 4.45 pm. Till about 5.20 , there was no inventory showing. Then I got 3 seats on June 21. I dilligently filled all names, pp details, seat selection and then to payment . After about 40 seconds, message says, sorry seats unavailable, select other date. I selected 23 Rd, same thing. Then I selected 27th. The site crashed. I tried at least 10 times on different times and days. No luck. That much for airindia.

  6. Had to wait for 3 hours to get connected to chat to be told that all the flights are full.. phone lines are busy no connection for 2 hours and calls dropping randomly.
    Was told to wait till 15th june to get more information, was due to travel from Delhi to Toronto.. and for refund was told to email an address from where no response has been recieved since 1 month, and there seems to be no clear consensus on if they are charging a cancellation fee and really dont know why there are cancellation fees amid charging so high for one way flights.

  7. You could not write the story that Air India website crashed due to high website visits and to sleep on it? Very interesting.

    • @Sankar Bhowmik, so what are you trying to say, please be clear. All your comments including the earlier one here looks cynical. Would love to hear some straight-shooting.

    • Hey guys
      I just wondering I’m using my Canadian bank card for buying the tickets but no luck !! Do i need to use Indian bank card for purchasing the ticket !!
      Cheers
      Ricky

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