Rude behaviour by airline crew or poor customer service in general constituted nearly four out of every 10 complaints in July by air passengers using domestic routes. According to the data submitted by domestic airlines to the civil aviation ministry, more than 37% complaints received by them last month collectively accounted for these two issues. While poor customer service contributed to 26.4%, highest number of grievances, rude staff behaviour accounted for just over 11% complaints.
The July data is not an odd statistic; there has been a steady rise in such complaints over the past few months. Grievances about rude staff have doubled from 6.6% reported in June. While poor customer services accounted for 25.4% complaints on poor customer service the numbers marginally fell in June (24.8%) but again rose last month.
“It seems that airlines’ focus is now restricted to just on-time performance and revenue generation. Airlines take little notice towards overall service. Staff behaviour is particularly rude when it comes to accommodating even small portions of excess baggage, which wasn’t the case earlier,” said Sudhakar Reddy, national president with the Air Passengers’ Association of India (APAI), a body formed by frequent air travellers.
Callous handling of baggage and technical faults with flight operations were the other two major problem areas voiced by fliers, the data stated. Both the issues accounted for just over one-fourth of the complaints received last month (see box for details).
Lalit Gupta, joint director general and the spokesperson of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) that collates the data on behalf of the ministry did not respond to HT’s calls on whether the regulator would take action against airlines over the rise of such 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 airlines. There are strong possibilities that such cases are underreported,” said a member of a government appointed independent panel, requesting anonymity.
In 2014, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) introduced SUGAM as an in-house passengers' grievances cell wherein fliers had the option to send their complaints directly to the safety regulator at email@example.com. But the service received flak as several mails had bounced back from the email address. A member of a government-appointed panel also said that the cell had failed to serve the purpose.