Saturday, August 27, 2011
Aug 26th 2011. SG 913. ETD 17:30 @ Hyd. I was all set for my week long travel plan(Hyd-->chennai-->Karaikal-->Kumbakonam-->Coimbatore-->Hyd). I worked overtime on wed and thur so that I can be relaxed @ office on friday. There was telecon scheduled by VP of my business unit at 10 a.m. on friday. My manager told this is an "important" call and everyone should attend. I woke up at 8:00 on friday,packed my things and managed to attend the call just in time. The agenda of the call was they were laying off 8% of the workforce in my business unit worldwide!!.What a way to start a day.There was minimal impact on my team. One of my on-site team mates was let go..Following that was my focal(hike) meeting with my managers.No surprise the % was very low than what i expected.My manager said.."Inspite of all happenings in our business unit, we are still giving a hike".I was thinking "poangada vennaigala"! It was a busy and disappointing day at work and I left office at 15:30 to catch aero-express at 15:45.The bus was late by 15 mins and I rushed to the checkin counter @ 16:45.
I left the boarding gate around 17:20 and when I was near the plane I could see a six member team working seriously near the front wheel of the plane. It looked rather unusual.At 18:00 captain of the flight announced,"there is a technical snag in the flight which has been rectified and it will take off in 10 mins"(after a technical snag, the captain needs a approval from boeing to take off) causing jitters among the passengers(olunga veedu poi saeruvoma-Will we reach home safely!!) The flight never took as expected and the next announcement came 30 mins later. "There is some unexpected delay in getting the paper work done.The officer to approve the paper work is not reachable"..OMG!! (That appatakar approval officer would have retired home early on friday evening).At 19:00 we were asked either to cancel the ticket and de-board the plane or wait for another 30 mins.
Only one guy cancelled his ticket and boarded off. Rest of us were waiting impatiently with our fingers crossed. My bus to karaikal to chennai was at 22:30. I called my mom to check about the plans in my native place. She told me I can reach by Sunday morning. I was relieved. In the worst case Spicejet would arrange an alternate flight on Saturday.Few others were in a more precarious situation. One softie was supposed to board a bus from perungalanthur at 19:00 and another to karaikudi @ 22:00, a flight from chn-->kanyakumari, a flight from chn-->singapore. All their plans were gone for a toss!
Inside the flight there was utter chaos. Passengers were getting impatient and went blasting at the spicejet crew - left,right and center. One tamilian said "T**oli pasanga(MF in english!!).I have to travel 2000km. Lets tread anna hazare's footsteps and walk out of the aircraft. Airport authorities will step in and we'll get a solution"(ithu enna pandian busa.Nenaicha naerathukku keezha eranga).In the meantime I was involved in a small talk with some softies who were en route from Jaipur after a IBM conference.(SG 913 - Jaipur-->Hyd-->chennai). They wished that flight landed directly in chennai instead of stopping @ Hyd!! Finally we were asked to de-board the flight at 19:30 still unsure about the alternate arrangements.
After we boarded off, there was total melee @ Shamsabad internation airport. For a moment it looked liked Koyambedu market!! The spicejet crew was mobbed by frustrating passengers. The crew was not able to handle the pressure well.One guy said that an alternate flight is coming from Delhi, the other guy told it was from Mumbai and the last one told we are taking off in the same flight(Am i going to land in chennai or hell!!). Passengers were irked by the response. Finally one guy announced that the alternate flight is confirmed at 21:50 and started issuing fresh boarding passes.Folks were reluctant to pick it up unless the ETD was displayed. They wanted our old boarding passes back in order to issue new ones. This wasn't valid. If we give our old boarding passes, spicejet can't be sued.One irate customer - young indian american tamilian started foul mouthing the spicejet crew. One tamil lady started laughing at his actions. He went near that lady "naan unagulukku oasaram(iyer slang!) sanda poatuttu irukaen. Enna patha comedy piece maari thariyutha"(I am fighting on behalf of all, do i look like a comedian?)Finally after the long hoopla we got our fresh boarding passes. It was 20:45 and still no refreshments!!(varum aana varathu) Most of us ate at idly and dosa counter.I had a plain dosa for Rs 100!. A kingfisher beer at 175 was a better option though! One north indian guy uttered "We should drink on this incident sometime dude!" That sums up the frustration everyone was under.
The base flight from Delhi landed on time and we boarded the flight at 21:50. At 22:00 engine started.Everyone started clapping :). The so called refreshments were served atlast. Cup noodles and activ orange juice.I grabbed only the juice. Most of the juice cans dint have a straw. Air hostess pierced the can with a pen nib. Look at the hospitality!! One guys asked,"Won't u serve meals instead of noodles". Instantly came a reply,"You have to pay"(Bulbu!!).Flight landed at 23:15 and I reached my aunt's place around 12:30 a.m. I postponed my trip to karaikal by a day.I read few pages of Lance Armstrong's autobiography and fell asleep.
Harsha bhogle in his book ‘the winning ways’ says, "A successful organisation will be measured by how well it handles crisis scenarios.He quoted how cadbury india tackled a worm issue in chocolates during Diwali season."Spicejet on the contrary did exactly the opposite.They dint give a damn about customer hospitality and satisfaction. They couldn't even arrange proper refreshments. Had it been any other country Spicejet would have been sued for lakhs. Management dint step up to the issue and left the lower ranked trainees to handle the situation. They chose money over reputation and their image will take a beating for sure. I have decided not to travel by spicejet anymore if there is an alternative. Same was the feeling among several passengers on board.
To sum up, "Friday Aug 26'2011 was a bad day and spicejet sucks big time"!