Can Air India and Jet Airways reclaim the No 1 spot in the World of Airlines for India

When someone told me 20 years back that Air India was World’s No 1 14523280_815323121942891_6822069468196573064_nrated Airline, I chuckled half in derision and fully in disbelief. But if today if anyone asked me, from Tarmac to Tarmac up in the sky, I would rate Jet Airways, Air India and Latam Air as the best in customer care and customer comfort.

For most Western airlines and many East Asian airlines it seems always “is it included in the price”. If not, dodge, turn a deaf ear, show them the rule book or sometimes raise voice to avoid requested service, with some possible exceptions like Vietnam Air and Cathay. But for AI, JA and Latam it seems what best can we do for our captive guests to ensure best of courtesies and comfort.

If the requested food is not available maybe AI is the only one where its staff might turn around and say ‘It is not available, Sir. But we carry some food for our flight attendants (FA), which might meet your requirements. Want to go for it?’ For their pilot a Motor may be an unsophisticated mofussil Motaaarrr but I feel the safest in their custody up there in the sky. Their beds in the dream liner is the finest and is the only time I (who normally can’t sleep in flights) have had a dream.

The problem for them is that their 5% delayed flights earn them 50% of dissatisfaction. And when it occurs they go into a communication freeze. They should perhaps outsource or seek external help to resolve this. Is they have stoically borne long years or corruption and bureaucratic meddling and yet given the best of care and courtesy, they are capable of bouncing back to be the very best.

They can perhaps teach their FAs to smile a lot more. I don’t really care what age the smile is. Let it truly reflect the depth of their courtesy and care.

Jet’s staff was sagging in energy about 4-5 years back. But my recent 4-leg trip to Toronto convinces me that their in-flight service is back to its very best. Most of them are energetic and young (they have to retire by 40 I was told) and reflect a great sense of courtesy and care. For me its how the economy class passengers are treated that should be basis of rating not the business or first class and i would reckon there Eco class service itself can match any class in most airlines. You hardly get ‘it’s not me. Someone else will serve you. Pl wait’ as an answer. And the attendant – male or female – make up for AI’s smiles. And their Herring Bone seats ensure 1st Class privacy and wonderful sleep and work space.

I have only 5 flight experience with Latam. I don’t know why they keep changing the gates right till you board. In 4 out of 5x they changed the gates and once twice after check in. But their flight attendants exude warmth like they have known you for years. Energetic and well trained they reflect the SA’s soft and easy culture and friendliness. Their external beauty seems to be more than matched by something internal and the friendly effervescent smiles itself comforts you for miles in the sky.   ‘To hell with anything that stands in the way of the customer getting the best’ may be the unstated motto.

Almost every other airline can learn from the way South African Pilots communicate. They are there whenever the slightest anxious movement creeps into me … with their re-assuring voice. On the ground they will not let a 5 minute wait or delay go unexplained. Most of them could easily have been football commentators … but you never feel alone and desperate in their care.

I would love to see the day when Air India and Jet Airways reclaim the No 1 spot for India. I know it will happen within my lifetime.

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