Dear Air India – What’s your Maharaja doing with an all-woman crew?

  • N Madhavan, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Mar 08, 2016 13:20 IST
Captain Amrit Namdhari, Captain Kshamta Bajpayi , Captain Shubhangi Singh and Captain Ramya Kirti Gupta at a function to mark a Delhi -San Francisco flight with an all-women crew in New Delhi on March 5 (Vipin Kumar/Hindustan Times)

Dear Air India,

I am so glad that I hear positive news from you after so long. To mark International Women’s Day, your non-stop flight from Delhi to San Francisco on Monday had an all- woman crew. Wow! That’s 17 hours of pride.

I know, it kind of makes up for all the nasty bad press and ugly tweets we see about you. Often you are in the news because your flights get delayed, or sometimes in some act of surprise, completely skipped.

Read | Air India flight checked for bomb after call, turns out to be hoax

Or else we hear of pilots either jumping ship to other airlines (er, should that be jumping aircraft?). Or we hear news about how the government plans to bail you out for the umpteenth time with a revival plan.

Frankly, we sometimes think your name should be changed from Air India to Oxygen India, but we shall let that pass. We sometime hear that you will be having an IPO or you will be privatised. Or not. But it kind of gets stretched, a bit like Pakistan’s help to India for the 26/11 trial. Sometimes we get to see strange ads in which a business class passenger gets that royal treatment from your air hostesses and there is nice music playing. We do hope to get some real-life anecdotes to match the ads some day. Sometimes, we hear weighty stuff about how you want to slim down your cabin crew.

You try hard, don’t you?

I mean, you have to keep everyone happy: mantris, bureaucrats, pilots, employee unions the most. Sometimes you think of passengers. We are so glad you do.

So it is nice to hear that you are celebrating International Women’s Day in style.

Read | Scaling new heights: Meet the crew of the ‘historic’ all-women’s flight

But we do think you need to change a thing or two.

Why do they call your flight attendants as air hostesses? Curious to know. I mean, are your male flight attendants called air hosts? We so think it is a tad sexist. Do you agree?

And then there is the small matter of your mascot: The Maharaja.

You officially tell us that your mascot looks like royalty but isn’t quite royal. We are trying to figure that one.

But we do think the Maharaja is a leftover from the colonial times, when it was cool to be royalty. It was still okay later, because you made that money (known by the tired cliché, precious foreign exchange) by offering royal privileges to phoren travellers so that some starving Indians could make their lives better.

Things have changed. It is time you had a mascot that reflects the spirit you show when you fly an all-woman crew to San Francisco. The Maharajah (spelt by you thus with an extra H to remind us of British rulers) is a male symbol of inheritance and entitlement and feudal rules. San Francisco is that hub of the Silicon Valley, where meritocracy rules and women and gays live easier lives.

It is time you did a few more things to match your all-woman flight.

Like, for instance, some on-time performance.

Thank you for your attention. Hope you enjoyed this flight of fancy. The temperature outside is…

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