Indigo, growing big doesn’t mean obtaining license to be arrogant

Arrogance is a veneer — a thin covering of excuses hiding deep performance deficiencies.
BOB LEWIS
The Seven Deadly Sins of Information Systems

Perhaps it’s about time my favourite airlines till recently in India, Indigo ‏@IndiGo6E,  paid heed to this gem from the management guru.

Although ‘am not a man living out of suitcases but having taken about six flights in three months, mostly on Indigo, it’s also about time for me to pen the layers of arrogance that its passengers had to bear with after having first hand experience over a period of time while taking its flights.

But before all that, here’s why Indigo was my favourite carrier till recently.

Hailing from Imphal in Manipur, where connectivity is a BIG issue, going home on annual holiday those days was one always preceded by nightmare over ticketing issues — both of cost and availability.

Imagine a round trip costing Rs 30,000 and colleagues rubbing it in, asking why do you go there, instead go for a holiday in Bangkok! To make the matter worse, Delhi-Imphal tickets on erstwhile Indian Airlines weren’t always available. Making umpteen visits to the Safdarjung office of the carrier, begging the lady known to the family to do something for the earliest ticket, all in vain; the actual dates for the trip always decided by availability of tickets and not at my discretion; weren’t the best of memories. If at all, a bundle of frustrations.

Things, however, changed for the better in 2006. Indigo entered my life in 2006 with its mint fresh Airbus A320. For many like me from Imphal and Guwahati, the low cost carrier that it had positioned itself as,  was a boon, God’s blessing.  Delhi-Imphal round trip at a price of just Rs 8,000 very much suited my bank account. It really didn’t matter even if I had to get up at 3 am to catch a 5;30 am flight, as Indigo would land me in time for breakfast at home with my beloveds.  Later on it made it even easier for me by adding another flight at 7:30 am, which was almost tailor-made for lunch at Imphal.

To top all that, the courteous ever smiling staff — right from those baggage handlers manning X-ray machines, to those at check-in counters and the ladies in the cabin. They’d always made you feel that you need not look at another airlines to fly.

Alas, all good things come to an end. Indigo grew fast all these years while others like Kingfisher bit the dust and Spicejet, almost. Now the market leader (in January 2015 it had 36.4% market share, almost twice of 2nd placed Jet Airways,  carrying 22.76 lakh passengers ), gone are the good habits of a service industry that Indigo was once a benchmark.

Over a period of time, you can’t help but notice how the humble and genuine small fellow started forgetting his roots as he became big and successful. Arrival in life had to be declared with arrogance. The ‘welcome’ and ‘thank you for flying Indigo’ by cabin crew of early days are history. Chatting among themselves, oblivious to who’s boarding or alighting is vogue.

The latest horror was the experience on 6E 338 from Goa to Delhi. A hopelessly rude woman as a cabin crew, to whom arguing and treating passengers with disdain (a behaviour most flyers associate with Air India/erstwhile Indian Airlines crew)  was a part of the job, confirmed the fast descending standards of the airlines. It was topped by a broken seat. Yes, a broken seat that raises questions on safety standards of the airlines.

DSC_0059

Earlier last month while on a trip to Ahmedabad, it appeared the staff had a long day already when they herded passengers directing from which gate to board the aircraft. Not a word of regret for delayed departure but the tone of a frustrated Head Mistress in a school was a far cry from the courteous people that served the Indigo I knew when I started flying home on Indigo.

This was the airlines, as a friend would narrate, that a pilot of which had once announced “Ladies and gentleman, we are ahead of scheduled arrival by 10 minutes, sorry for the inconvenience”when the Bangalore-Delhi flight landed ahead of time.

The list can be long but first instance that raised the red flag about the slide in Indigo’s standards happened about a couple of years back in my hometown. The boy at the check-in counter, who would be younger than my 7-years -junior little brother, called out “‘Nanao’ (an informal Manipuri word for a younger brother)  come here”. Well, any man who is adding number of years to his life, would be happy to be mistaken for a young man but for Indigo? It showed how far it has drifted from where it all began.

The sky is limitless Indigo, it’s all there for you to conquer but arrogance won’t help the cause.