According to data released by the civil aviation ministry, nearly 3 of 10 domestic fliers, who travelled in March, said they were unhappy with the airlines’ crew’s poor customer service.
The figures in the data show 29.6% complaints filed by domestic fliers in March were related to customer service, while 24% complaints were related to flight problems and 16% to misplaced baggage (see table).
The data also showed how complaints on poor customer service has seen a steady rise over the preceding two months – 19% in January and 23% in February.
Frequent fliers said they have observed a steady fall in service standards across domestic airlines, particularly carriers catering to the largest pie of domestic air travellers.
“The service levels, both on ground and on board flights, have fallen drastically. While a majority of domestic airlines had poor service standards, now, even market leaders have become arrogant,” said Sudhakar Reddy, national president with the Air Passengers’ Association of India (APAI), a body formed by frequent fliers.
Budget airline GoAir and SpiceJet recorded the highest number of passengers’ complaints.
While the ministry data already paints a poor picture about air passenger service, several grievances go unreported, said industry experts. “The data released by the ministry is based on information provided to them by the airlines. There are strong possibilities that such cases are underreported,” said a member of a government-appointed independent panel, requesting anonymity.
The member said that SUGAM, an in-house fliers’ grievance cell set up by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in 2014, had failed to serve the purpose.
Passengers’ protests go viral online
* The data released by the civil aviation ministry coincides with a spate of angry posts and videos put out angry fliers that went online over the recent past.
* On February 16, a video put online by Air India fliers denied boarding over late coming went viral. The video showed the airline staff refusing to give alternatives to passengers, who alleged they were turned away despite reaching the airport on time. Subsequently, the airline had ordered an internal inquiry.
* A travel blogger’s account narrating alleged rude behaviour by Jet Airways earlier this month also kicked off an avalanche of similar fliers’ stories citing nightmarish experiences.