When Air India did its job and got flak for it!

There is a video making the rounds these days, where Air India employees are putting up with passengers who arrived late and the flight was closed. This is a video which was shot at Mumbai’s Terminal 2 a few days ago, with a camera smartphone and uploaded to a social network for maximum impact.

Apparently, a bunch of passengers arrived at Terminal 2, Mumbai, 55 minutes before the flight. For Air India, they operate a few flights from Terminal 2 at this moment, but these are domestic legs of international flights. For instance, very clearly mentioned on their website, is this information:


Assuming the passengers arrived at Terminal 2 and not Terminal 1A, which is at least 20 minutes away due to traffic, they would have also noted the check-in time requirements. Of course they knew this was not their regular flight because it would fly from Terminal 1A otherwise. It is very clearly highlighted on Air India’s website that they should have been around about 2 hours prior (recommended) and check-in closed at 60 minutes out.


The passengers claimed that they received an SMS from their travel service provider which said they should have been over 45 minutes prior. I read somewhere that this was GoIbibo. Now, GoIbibo sends out generic texts all the time to passengers:


Of course, it was Goibibo who forgot to customise their message for these flights and sent out the generic one.

A lot of people have gone on to blame the airline in the way they’ve handled the situation. In this case, while I agree that the airline did not display any empathy, the passengers did not go about pleading their case kindly as well.

I hear sentences such as this in the video from the passengers:

If there would have been a bomb scare, the flight would be delayed, right?


What if it was your own daughter making it late to the flight?

I find that totally irresponsible to make it personal. I also find it irresponsible to bring in a security situation to make your own personal agenda.

I do spend a lot of time on planes, and I’ve seen empathy and apathy both from airline employees, Air India included. However, rules are rules, and I would have to side with the airline this time around. Rules are made for our safety. Airlines have to pay fines for every minute they stay on the ground when they make a delay. Also, Air India recently imposed fines on employees who cause delays for the flights, including crew which arrives late, or in this case, the ground staff who would have had to seek supervisory approval to allow passenger boarding again.

We can have a debate on how this situation would have been handled when VIPs would be on board, but lets not debate that because clearly in this case, GoIbibo.com was partly at fault, and passengers were a lot at fault. The airline did not handle these passengers sensitively, but that is not their fault if people arrive late for a flight.

Bottomline: Plan in enough time for your flight rather than arrive last minute. Also, check in ahead so that you already have a boarding pass when you are at the airport.

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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. I hope Air India goes under one day, and we taxpayers no longer have to bail out the incompetent buffoons that work in it as well. All of you are arrogant because of a belief that however poorly you conduct yourself, you’ll always have a job to go to. This will not always be the case, and on the day I am proved right, I will smile the brightest.

    • @shivendra your situation was different, you did not make the flight. In this case, or any case when the bags are already loaded on the plane, it becomes very difficult to offload a passenger.

  2. the only way to overcome these issues is to have the same rules for everyone! Hence all should adhere to the instructions. And instructions are not suggestions – it is black & white. 120 min is the suggested time of reporting and 45 mins is check in closure. If you are there 1 hour before, it should be fine (as is the case with all major airlines I have traveled on)

    time we are fair, impartial and strict

  3. AI22, Delhi – Kolkata on 21st Feb,2015. Flight was scheduled to depart 20:15. But actually depart from Delhi 22:45. Other airlines Indigo, Jet Airways departed on time. Other can but Air India can’t.

  4. What happened here is the worst example of customer service? I see some posts here defending the shameless act. First of all, I hope that Air India staff realize the gravity of the times they live in. Today the passenger get to choose from a variety of flight providers and there is a bare minimum they expect from Air India. The customer must have booked the ticket through Ibibo but why did the staff of Air India not make an effort to reach out and communicate. Other private airlines would have done that. Air India can learn from some airlines who make it their goal to ensure that none of their passengers miss out their flight.
    There was miscommunication but they could have still attempted to get the passenger onboard, agreed that baggage handling would have been tough, but they could have arranged to send them on a later flight. Exceptions had to be made because in this case the customer is not at fault.
    Air India employees should look in the mirror and ask themselves, what am I doing at my workplace? No one wants to fly with you, thanks to your pathetic customer service, the reputation keeps getting ruined. The firm runs in loss and is unable to pay your salary, strikes won’t help your cause. Start doing your job properly so that your kids don’t have to walk in shame.

    • Okay Kishan ! What you saying is a direct attack on the Air India Staff! What do you know about these staff? They are just the same whether they work in a private firm or government firm ! My father and many a people I know are staffs of Air India who work hard and try their best to maintain the integrity of Air India! Why should they allow these latecomers and break such rules? They are doing the job and biding by the rules of Air India and mainly CSIA ! And what sort of goal are you talking about that all passengers must not miss their flight? Can’t they reach a time well before ? Do they think these Air India flights are chartered flights for them? I have seen these things happening with other airlines but you guys are more interested to take a stab at a government run airline ! I am proud my father work hard and we aren’t ashamed of anything ! Look at yourself first in the mirror :/

  5. i just survived an international flight that was delayed by 4 hours.

    Air India’s problem is about poor communication. They probably could have informed in advance of the delay and many of us would have stayed put at home. Or at a nearby bar buying drinks at a reasonable price.

    The Mumbai airport is beautiful but NOT comfortable enough for a 5-hour halt. Nobody from Air India felt it necessary to explain a sudden 4 hour delay.


    How I miss Kingfisher Airlines. They were undoubtedly the best.

  6. even the post agrees that the passengers were not well informed about the time , isnt it the duty of AI to notify the passengers about that especially when they know that particular terminal has different closing time then generic ones ? i myself missed a couple of lfights in the US they promptly got me in to the next flight without even asking a question why i was late, i dont think AI flights are all completely booked , they can easily accommodate them in the next available flight. As a matter of fact one of the my friends here who traveled with AI to USA lost his checkin baggage and never got the bag nor the money, (emrites on the other hand paid 20000 for another guy who lost a checkin bag), im not saying that the employees are at fault , the airlines seriously need to change its rules that increase tolerance towards its customers

  7. With counter closing oen hour prior in a large airport, and baggage sent down to the baggage akeup area, ground handling unit under security supervision load the baggage and prepare a chart (where aircraft is containerised). Passegners have to move along security and report at boarding gate. Only after accounting for passenger on board will the baggage reconciliation be effected. Based on passenger and baggage, the cargo load is adjusted and loaded as well. Catering adjustments take place for final load, fueling is adjusted as per flight plan and captain’s final call just before he comes onboard, and sometimes even in the cockpit. Passenger counts and therefore passegner reporting at boarding gate in time becomes essential to complete these activities. Once fuelling is complete and every count is final the loadsheet is finalised and rushed to the captain in the cockpit for sign-off, who goes through it carefully and makes enquiries on some of the entries. The captain also confirms acceptance of aircraft, else engineering has to make quick efforts in case of snags flagged by captain or passenger amenities by the Inflight supervisor and crew. The cargo hold is closed after removing any baggage for gate noshows, or loading last minute courier or late chacekin passenger and crew bags. After ensuring all these are complete, various parties like cargo, ground handling, passenger handling, catering and security sign off a flight release along with the captain. Door closed, Air Traffic Control clearance awaited, and pushback. Looking at all the activites and processes, is there much scope to palky around with late check-in or security or boarding? Every few minutes delay burns expensive aand environment harming fuel, and possible incurrence of additional fees from airport authority, missing of slots, delayed takeoff clearance, more fuel burn, risk of weather changing rapidly when a short window is available for takeoff, and consequent effect on transfer connections and passengers on board in time has to be accounted for.

  8. If the Air India staff would have let the girl on flight ! It would not only delay the flight and cause distress to the passengers as well as the crew but people would have again complained that Air India is never on time ! The Staff has done their job ! People need to learn to be punctual! And if anyone says, What about Air India delaying their flights? There are technical glitches and most of the time such passengers screw up and Air India has to suffer !

  9. If that girl has an exam she can’t be at the airport like a hour or two before? If I had an exam I would have left 2 to 3 days before ! (Moderated for profanity)

  10. While I understand that passengers should have arrived earlier, it is too much to expect passengers to know that Domestic flights taking off from supposed International Terminals close check in counters 60 mins before departure. How would you expect a first time flier from Mumbai to know that 1A is the regular domestic terminal for AI, and this one (Term 2) was supposed to be a different case with 60 min prior check-in. If the 60 min clause was printed on the e-ticket, I blame the passengers. If not, AI is to take the blame. I wouldn’t go purely by what the SMS said, but rather go by what AI’s e-ticket said.

    • @vijay disagree. If a first time passenger can figure the difference between Terminal 1a and 2, they can definitely dig deeper. Additionally, if you look at an air India ticket, they mention all these details in the eticket they send. How goibibo sends it I am not aware.

  11. @ran you must be very ugly yourself to see ugliness in other people!!
    And ask the politicians how much of taxpayers money THEY are eating….

  12. Hmm.. then someone should sue goibibo and other sites for wrong info to customers.

    Perhaps for years now, On a daily basis, Air India has seen many passengers denied boarding for easily fixable reasons such as these. Am amused that an airline can’t take up such a simple issue & resolve this issue with the online sites. Says a lot about how much they care about customers!
    no sympathies air India! Own it up!

  13. What about the delayed caused by AI it’s self? Many travellers are affected by unprofessional management if AI. If u ppl can’t work stay home! Y eat on taxpayers money?

  14. What about the delayed cozed by AI it’s self? Many travellers are affected by unprofessional management if AI. If u pppl can’t work stay home! Y eat on taxpayers money?

  15. Dear Sir,

    Your support for Air India or as a matter or fact for any airline disgusts me.
    I recommend that you ask a few class 10 student to roam around the airport and suggest changes to the system. I think they will do a better job in changing these ancient ways any airline works these days. I do understand that passengers are also illinformed at times but the ones in this perticular situation were certainly not stupid.

    Let me inform you i myself work in the aviation industry at a rank not many can achieve. Still i am not able to make changes cause the Human sensitivity has somehow not reached our value system.


  16. Reproduced below is my post on the Air India Facebook page.
    We always were an Airline with a heart till the time an Idiot came along and told us that every minute of delay will be accountable and those staff responsible will be monetarily penalised. Another fellow passenger says that the lady passenger who was seen to be crying in that Video arrived 40 minutes after the counters closed officially. Can anyone critical of the Airline Staff visualise themselves in the staffers shoes? Have you thought about the distances and time it takes to reach the Aircraft after checkin in those big city shopping malls nee Airports? Let’s face it Airports are primarily for planing and deplaning not shopping. Till that is sorted out every ones travel experience will suffer. We are allocated the remotest locations within the Airport both nationally and Internationally. Will any patriotic Indian Address that Issue?

  17. Such passengers deserve no sympathy. Good on Air India they stood their ground. I am sure these people will never ever miss another flight in their entire life going forward. That girl crying like a baby needs to be asked to shut up. You’ve only missed a plane. Far more worse has happened to some people. So shut up just shut up!

  18. It was written in above article that passengers did not request properly.. What about the girl who was crying?

    whose ever mistake it was but Air India people have behaved really bad.

  19. Airindia is generally good.. They have their limitations.. Do not be critical every time.. I always had good experience.. Touch wood

  20. I am not involved in this debacle in any manner but consider for a minute how other companies deal with such unique situations. They can send out a message to each passenger for special circumstances (it is done when i purchase bus tickets on a government operated tour bus needless to say for an airline) or they should consider that people will be late so let us work around this. That is how we go towards an age of responsibility towards customers rather than just towards your stockholders. So i wont defend what has happened but i do believe Air India could have done much better. And just on a side note i have flown Air India internationally some 8 times in my life and it has always been an average 2 hours late and maximum 5 hours late and rude service on board so i have the lowest opinion of Air India.

    • @Praveen in this case, they operate these flights daily and the confusion was caused by a SMS from goibibo.com so one should go after them in my opinion.

  21. Hi,
    1. For fig 1, ie.e the website of AI mentioning dometic flight flying from intl. terminal, they must add a line stating ” you need to be here 3 hours prior.
    2. All airlines & travel agents must disclose terminal number in each of their tickets . I have seen in case of Indigo there was no terminal no. provided in the ticket & the box was left blank !
    3. Travel insurance for such flights must be a must !

  22. Hats off to the AI staff for not loosing their cool, when they were shouted at and abused by 10 people! Seriously people should stop this nonsense!!

  23. To be late, and rude, and expect to get your way, I find that combination to be a bit odd. Surely you need to be a lot more polite if you want an exception to be made to accommodate you. People on social media tend to have a herd mentality, and don’t pause before abusing a person or an entity. Reading the comments section of this video on Facebook is an assault on your senses.

  24. Agree with you 100%. These days its a fashion to find faults and blame Air India. There are many instances when AI has gone out of the way to help passengers. Unfortunately some fliers feel that when they buy AI ticket,they are doing a favour on AI.

  25. AI is not at fault here. Why should one person’s ignorance cause hundreds to be delayed? I’ve seen worse instances of ignorance (one guy tried to check in at 4pm for a 0445 flight!)

    That said, I’ve been late for a flight only once (reached BOM T1B at 2020 for a 2040 9W flight) and still boarded the plane thanks to the nice ground staff on duty then.

  26. Dear AJ
    Here is one praise of AirIndia staff,which I whole heartedly endorse.I am normally punctual and reach well in advance of flight departure times,but on one occasion in Varanasi,we got stuck in a traffic Jam,called AirIndia and told them our problem.They kept saying they would try to accommodate but no commitment.
    We reached the airport with less than 10 minutes to spare but staff managed to accept our checkin bags and put us on the filght.
    I don’t think any Airline in the world could have given such service.

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