Fliers rebuke SpiceJet, IndiGo for poor service, behavior
Air travelers are getting increasingly dissatisfied with Indian airlines' poor services and behavior, according to a survey conducted for Bloomberg. The report said that nearly 80% of the 15,000 airline customers polled by LocalCircles feel that Indian carriers are sacrificing passenger comfort. The survey also indicates that cutting corners on services by the airlines is happening in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- India has become the third-largest domestic aviation market in the world.
- It is expected to overtake the UK to become the third-largest air passenger market by 2024, as per India Brand Equity Foundation.
- The latest revelations are, however, seen as a setback to the growing sector, which has emerged as one of the fastest-growing industries lately.
Over 79% of the 15,000 airline passengers polled by LocalCircles stated operators in India have been sacrificing customer comfort following the COVID-19 pandemic. SpiceJet Ltd. topped the list of airlines whose service was regarded as the poorest, followed by IndiGo, the country's largest airline with a 55% market share. Flight delays, poor in-flight service, and ineffective boarding processes were among the complaints received.
The operators, on the other hand, denied any compromises in service or behavior. SpiceJet stated that it is focusing on automation, technology, and sustainability to improve the client experience. IndiGo also stated that it is concentrating on digitalization in order to provide consumers with a frictionless travel experience. The airline further said that leveraging technology has minimized airport wait times and improved passenger satisfaction.
The recent findings come at a time when the airlines have been facing a degree of criticism from passengers. IndiGo recently stopped a handicapped teenager from boarding an aircraft, claiming he was making a nuisance and hence poses a safety risk. Later, the preliminary investigation by the aviation authorities found IndiGo did not follow the guidelines and its employees treated the customer inappropriately.
Another recent incident became popular due to a viral video that showed a woman having a panic attack when Air India, now managed by the Tata Group, denied her boarding because she came after the gate had closed. These incidents have drawn serious criticism for the country's airline industry, especially, when it is struggling to recover after the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Ajay Awtaney, editor of the aviation website LiveFromALounge, both IndiGo and Spicejet are experiencing major staff shortages and unhappy workers. While IndiGo cut off 10% of its workforce in 2020, SpiceJet withheld wages, making it difficult for them to fully recover, he added. Both airlines' experienced crews are also being poached by upstart carriers Akasa Air and Jet Airways, he noted.
"Airlines do not have a playbook for customer service because customer preferences have changed and they're still clutching at straws trying to figure out what the customer wants," Awtaney said.
Airlines are also charging more for ancillaries while increasing ticket rates citing rising fuel expenses, NDTV reported. "Cost-conscious fliers have to pay Rs. 200 ($2.60) for a boarding pass at the airport if they haven't done web check-in," it said. Following a customer's complaint about this, Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said he will examine the practice implemented to minimize touchpoints following the pandemic.