Interactions with Air India last week highlight how the national carrier often struggles to provide even a basic standard of customer service...

Air India's terrible telephone service

When travel plans change, you just want to pick up the phone and get help. When you’re dealing with Air India - forget it.

We needed to make a straightforward booking change - moving a flight from a Friday to a Sunday. The first problem is that you can’t make a change online - there was no option to reschedule the booking under 'manage my booking'.

That’s fine, if you can get help when you call. Unfortunately, we experienced:

  • agents talking too softly so you can’t hear them
  • agents talking too fast so that you can’t understand them
  • keeping you on hold for so long that you hang up
  • agents who hang up on you
  • agents who tell you that a same day change can’t be done
  • agents who tell you that a same day change can be done - but then don’t help you to do it.

In the end, we got so frustrated that we simply abandoned our original booking and booked a new ticket. Thanks for nothing, Air India!

It must be better when you want to pay them - right?

You’d think service might improve when you want to hand over some extra money. Sadly, that’s not the case, either.

We were interested in buying an upgrade from economy so that we could review business class on Air India’s Boeing 777 aircraft due to operate our flight from Delhi to Mumbai.

The national carrier has a well-publicised ‘Bid Upgrade’ scheme, (sometimes) allowing passengers to make an offer to upgrade their booking. Being Air India, the relevant page of the website didn’t load because it was intermittently down. When it did appear, clicking ‘submit’ did absolutely nothing…

The result? We gave up and the airline lost the extra revenue.

Air India is failing - both in terms of customer service and on-board product. With rival Vistara about to provide an unquestionably superior offering on the lucrative Delhi-London route, Air India won’t be able to get away with offering such a substandard experience for much longer.

What hope is there for Air India if it can’t even take a customer’s money?