Sunday, October 02, 2016

Travel diary: The thrills of flying

For people with stressful lives, there’s little help that comes from air travel. After waking up early, and worrying about the cab, you start frowning about your city’s traffic. There’s nothing more edge-of-the-seat than a cab drive to the airport. And once you’ve arrived at any one of our grand terminals, there’s always the queues to delay you — from grabbing that favourite breakfast to the check-in point, where you have to negotiate for excess baggage and haggle for the aisle seat.
Then, there’s the frisking. After virtually stripping yourself of all electronic gadgets, including pieces of geometry that get stuck in your pockets, you find that the queue is long for both — for the ones with laptops and the ones without.
The experience soon gets wonkier at the boarding gate depending on how punctual your airline is. Most airlines in India are notorious for delayed flights measured by OTP (On-Time-Performance). Since 2010 and until 2013, 20 per cent of all domestic flights were delayed. And the situation has worsened in 2015. According to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, 22.4 per cent of all domestic flights were delayed. If one looks at the reasons for the delays, two-thirds of all delays are caused by “reactionary” reasons and that doesn’t include weather, delays caused by flight operations and crew and ATC issues. And the
term “reactionary” is a black-box, airlines jargon for system errors — waiting for crew to move from another flight or road traffic, diverting flights to other airports, internal strikes, “surge pricing”, etc. So, if the pilot who is scheduled to fly the jet you are hoping to catch is delayed by notorious Bandra traffic, you can blame your rising cortisol levels on “reactionary” reasons. But that’s the bane of modern flying and despite compensation amounts of `20,000 for flight delays, you seldom pursue that route of claims because of time pressures.
02/10/16 Sridhar Sattiraju/The Asian Age
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