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Travelling with Indigo airlines turns out painful due to bad customer service
Good customer service is still a distant term for competitive airlines industry in India, even if it is for the profit making company Indigo airlines. The pressure of revenue targets and probably lack of proper sensitivity among the employees is creating painful travelling experiences for many. One such harrowing experience.

ON WEDNESDAY morning Mrs. Piyul Verma (name changed) had an embarrassing moment when she reached the Indore airport to board her flight for Delhi. Mrs.Verma was travelling with her 2 kids – son aged 5 and daughter aged 1 year 11 months was scheduled to catch Indigo flight Indigo 6E-435  at  10:05hrs. However, at the boarding pass counter she was confronted with Ms. Deepika who asked for a birth certificate of her daughter as a proof of her age.

To her dismay Piyul realized that she was not carrying her daughter’s birth certificate at that particular moment. She realized the fine print in the ticket does say that she is required to do so but missed doing the same in her hurry to reach the airport. Mrs. Verma had a ticket for herself including infant fee required for children below 2 years, however she was carrying no valid document that could prove that her daughter is below 2 years. She requested the lady at the counter to accommodate the error on her part which was promptly refused.

Strangely, Indigo's demands seemed biased as a number of passengers were traveling with their infants but they were not asked to show their date of birth certificate.

Soon to the join the scene was another ground staff from Indigo who introduces herself as Nisha Raghu, asst. manager with Indigo airlines. On hearing the problem, instead of suggesting a customer friendly solution Nisha promptly pushes the strategy to sell another ticket for a flight that was otherwise scheduled to fly with 60 percent vacant seats. “Pay up INR 6000 as the ticket price if you cannot prove your child is infant”, Mrs. Verma was told. Troubled by the fact that the commotion may lead to her missing the flight, she calls up her husband in Delhi who promised that he will have the birth certificate ready at Delhi airport when his wife reaches with the kid, else she will pay up. But the request didn’t move any of the staff members who were, by that time, sensed Mrs. Verma’s vulnerability and was eyeing for one more ticket sale.

It seems, for Indigo, money is more important than a customer and a customer's goodwill. Just because you as an airline want to make profit at a time when less people are flying due to high ticket costs - it does not mean an airline resorts to strong-arm tactics.

The second alternative of depositing an amount equal to ticket price with the staff and collecting it back after showing the birth certificate at Delhi airport was also rejected. In the meantime, a number of senior Indigo officials join in to the discussion. Rather than siding with the customer in distress, each made a point to check the seat occupancy and support the ‘buy a ticket’ argument. The fact that she has travelled with her infant daughter multiple times with Indigo in the past couple of months was easily ignored. Rather few staff members started emphasizing on why such rules need to be stringently followed hereby indicating an unfair and fraudulent behavior on Mrs. Verma’s part.

This was a clear case of putting pressure on a customer by hinting wrong-doing on part of the flyer. Shouldn't Indigo have thought of a mutally satisfactory solution than harassing a desperate flyer who has a small child?

To make the scenario worst one of the staff members pass a comment like, “arrey yeh to teen saal ki dikhti hai ” (ohh, she looks like she is 3 years old) making the entire situation utterly embarrassing and painful for the Mrs. Verma who by that time was nearly ready to buy a full priced ticket for her infant daughter. Finally, she was saved from the painful ordeal when a family member managed to mail across a scanned copy of the child’s birth certificate to Indigo airlines.

Rude behavior with passengers coupled with non-cooperative environment towards passengers is not new to Indian airline industry. With the exit of Kingfisher airlines and a current void in the number of flights in various sectors, ensure the money making season for others in the game. However, bringing out a fine print in the terms and condition – one that even refer to safety and security procedures – and harassing a lady passenger travelling with very young kids (one of which is infant) is not something India expects to see from a carrier that just got the permission to fly international. It’s a fact that Indigo’s catch line “flying on time is wonderful thing” promises to transport a passenger from point A to point B in time and doesn’t promise much about comfort and customer service, however the basics of the travel & hospitality industry stands violated in such an incident.

The event may be a learning lesson for many with whom Mrs. Verma shares her experience, and she and others will make it a point to carry a birth certificate copy whenever they travel with an infant. It probably is a different matter that if any of them will actually choose Indigo the next time they travel.

For a few thousand rupees a supposedly respectable airline has done something no respectable brand should do to its customer - make her permanently unsatisfied, in fact, a perennial non-customer of Indigo.

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