The Hari Putar Dialogues - 56
(The Times of India ; New Delhi ; 1 May 2009 : You may have heard of passengers getting upset or arguing with cabin crew members when they don't get a meal of their choice. But on Thursday passengers flying on Indian Airlines' flight from Mumbai to Delhi witnessed a rare fight between two air hostesses ' one of them from Air India flying as staff-on-duty to operate another flight from here ' when she did not get the meal she wanted. The spat in full public view ' between the IC and AI air hostesses ' happened on IC 166 soon after take off from Mumbai. Since domestic passengers don't give their preferred meal choice at the time of booking, airlines carry an equal number of veg and non-veg meals. On Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and on flights out of Gujarat, the demand for veg meals is higher due to religious considerations. 'Once the crew started serving meals on the flight, the AI air hostess told the IC air hostess that she has veg meals on Thursdays. But by then, the veg meals had run out. So, the IC air hostess politely offered to give her fruits, bread or salad instead as the former was getting very angry. When the lady still did not relent, the air hostess assured her that she would ensure she gets veg food on arrival in Delhi,' said sources. But when nothing could soothe the AI air hostess, her IC counterpart also reportedly lost her cool after putting up with a deluge of taunts for nearly half an hour. And then the two women ' ironically of the same airline since IA and AI have now been merged ' had a slanging match for some time.)
Putar: There is a report in The Times of India today about two airhostesses having a fight on an Indian Airlines flight.
Hari: Why were they fighting?
Putar: About food actually.
Hari: What happened? Did one of them not manage the food well and did some passengers have to go hungry.
Putar: That wasn't the problem. What actually happened was that one of the airhostesses was a vegetarian and the vegetarian trays ran out. On Thursday and some other days there is a higher demand for veg food.
Hari: Surely the airhostess could have managed to eat some fruits and salads from the non veg tray.
Putar: That's what the other airhostess offered, but it wasn't acceptable to the first one.
Hari: That's not very collegial.
Putar: Well, one of the airhostesses was from Indian Airlines and the other from Air India, but now the two airline companies have been merged. The one who was complaining about not getting vegetarian food was from Air India apparently and the other one was from Indian Airlines.
Hari: It would appear that the marriage between Air India and Indian Airlines is not a very happy one.
Putar: Absolutely. Possibly some of the Air India staff think of themselves as superior since they have traveled overseas more and have catered to an international clientele.
Hari: Perhaps. And perhaps also the Air India air hostess feels bad that now because of the merger she is traveling on a domestic route.
Putar: But her behavior doesn't show greater sophistication. Had she been truly more sophisticated she would have had greater concern for her colleagues as well as for the passengers in the aircraft. It appears that she kept on nagging and taunting the other air hostess for a long while till the other lady finally burst out in anger as well,
Hari: And then the two had a slanging match.
Putar: I don't think the airhostess who was complaining about not having vegetarian food would have dared to have such an argument had she been employed by a private airline.
Hari: No question. Job security is good but sometimes people take their jobs for granted and misbehave.
Putar: And it's also true it's unlikely that an airhostess with such little forgiveness for a bona fide mistake by her colleague could have been very courteous to the passengers on board.
Hari: I'm not sure if that is true, Putar. The poor woman might have been very hungry.
Putar: I don't think so. Had this been an international flight I might have agreed. How could she be very hungry on a short two hour flight from Delhi to Mumbai?
Hari: That's true. On the other hand she may have been fasting throughout the day and decided to break her fast.
Putar: I doubt if that was the issue really. If it was just a matter of hunger she could have managed with the fruits, bread and salad. It's just bad manners and lack of adjustability. And these are both qualities that are essential for an airhostess. She should be accommodating, adjusting and have good manners. Not to say that she should take any nonsense from a passenger.
Hari: I agree. It is for reasons such as this that private airlines are taking away customers from the Government owned companies such as Air India and Indian Airlines.
Putar: I hear that Jet Air has an excellent In-flight entertainment programme.
Hari: And very good food as well.
Putar: The tickets are a bit more expensive though.
Hari: But many passengers will be willing to pay extra for extra services.
Putar: That's true. Tell me something, Papaji?
Hari: Bol, Putar?
Putar: Isn't it a fact that unlike some of their private competitors such as Jet Airways, Air India and Indian Airlines don't provide In-flight entertainment on many of their flights?
Hari: That's true.
Putar: And is it possible that on this Bombay Delhi flight too there was no In-flight entertainment program?
Hari: Very likely.
Putar: Perhaps the airhostesses were making up this deficiency in the services of the airline by providing their passengers with some in flight entertainment, though of a different kind. Do you think that's possible?
Hari: I don't know, Putar.