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Saturday, Nov 16, 2019

No free upgrades to biz class, focus on selling tickets: Air India CMD to staff

By virtue of being the CMD, Lohani’s family is entitled to travel in executive class subject to the availability of seats, an airline official said. However, Lohani’s order not to upgrade his family to a higher class is being viewed as a move to enforce discipline within AI.

businesspaper Updated: Jul 12, 2016 11:32 IST
Upgrading passengers travelling in economy to a higher class is a common practice in airlines. Passengers can be upgraded subject to the availability of seats, or can seek an upgrade by paying a little extra. (Prasad Gori/HT photo)
Upgrading passengers travelling in economy to a higher class is a common practice in airlines. Passengers can be upgraded subject to the availability of seats, or can seek an upgrade by paying a little extra. (Prasad Gori/HT photo)( )
         

Upgrade my family and face action—that’ s the message from Air India( AI) chairman and managing director Ashwani Lohani to his senior staff.

By virtue of being the CMD, Lohani’s family is entitled to travel in executive class subject to the availability of seats, an airline official said. However, Lohani’s order not to upgrade his family to a higher class is being viewed as a move to enforce discipline within AI.

“The focus should be to sell the maximum number of first-class tickets because that’s where a full-service carrier like AI makes most of its money from. They should not be filled with freeloaders. By taking a stand on the issue, Lohani has sent a clear message. When the CMD’s family can travel in economy so can others. It also sends a message to bureaucrats and politicians who are perpetually requesting for upgrades,” another senior AI official said.

Upgrading passengers travelling in economy to a higher class is a common practice in airlines. Passengers can be upgraded subject to the availability of seats, or can seek an upgrade by paying a little extra. However, this facility, sources said, has sometimes been misused in the past.

“An upgrade can only be given by the CMD. There is no one else who has that power now,” another official said.

The airline has strictly barred its crew from upgrading passengers. “Once the aircraft doors are shut, the captain is the boss. The crew very often used to allow family and friends to shift to the higher class, if seats were available,” the official quoted above said.

The national carrier recently stopped that practice.

“It has come to our notice that at times upgrades are done within the aircraft by the cockpit or the cabin crew. A serious view has been taken of the same and personal responsibility shall be fixed in such cases. It is reiterated that no upgrades shall be done without a message from the chairman’s office,” according to a note sent by the CMD’s office. Upgrades can only be given by the crew after informing the CMD’s office, it added.