Ex-boss Rohit Nandan Flies Air India, Says Utterly Disappointing

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Rohit Nandan said he decided to fly Air India “not only because of my inherent loyalty for the airline, but also due to the curiosity to see what changes have taken place”

NEW DELHI: Retired bureaucrat Rohit Nandan, who headed Air India for a little over four years, travelled on the airline this week and wrote a sharply critical post on Facebook, complaining about how the airline changed the aircraft from Boeing 787 Dreamliner to a narrow-body Airbus without informing passengers.

In a Facebook post , Nandan said he had selected the Air India flight AI 380 flight to Singapore because the aircraft to be operated was a Dreamliner. “Overall the experience was utterly disappointing,” he said.

Nandan, a 1982 batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer, was Air India chairman between August 2011 and August 2015, seven years before the Tata Group took control of the debt-ridden Air India in January 2022. To be sure, it was in 2012 when Nandan was Air India’s managing director and chairman that the first Dreamliner was inducted into the airline.

“I had selected to fly Air India, not only because of my inherent loyalty for the airline, but also due to the curiosity to see what changes have taken place during the last few months. After appreciating the vision of the CEO a few days back, I felt that a lot of distance needs to be covered to fulfill his vision and that ‘Vihaan’ has yet to find reflection at the ground level,” he said.

Nandan said he got a shock when he entered the aircraft.

“I was jolted when I stepped into the plane and realised that the Boeing 787 had been replaced by a much smaller single aisle, narrow body Airbus. One felt cheated that the aircraft was changed without any intimation to the passengers. The entire plane was up in protest, against this replacement, which had led to reassignment of seats, quite at variance, with the selections and payments made by the passengers. Families and groups of friends were randomly separated. I myself had selected the most expensive first row seats, due to legroom but was inexplicably allotted a seat way back with little legroom,’ he said.

Nandan said that while it was understandable that the airline may change the aircraft due to operational or commercial reasons, it was not unreasonable to expect passengers to be informed of the drastic aircraft change, which affected their comfort and flying experience, especially in a semi-long haul 6 hour long, night flight.

It is unfair to replace a fairly long 6-hour night flight, with a narrow-body alternative, without prior information to the passengers and without giving them a choice to opt out with a full refund.

On the flight, Nandan also complained about the cabin crew refusing a second service of drinks.

“For the first time, I saw a cabin crew refuse passengers a second service of drinks, on the ground that mixing of alcohol will lead to increase in blood pressure. He might be medically correct, but the inflight services of airlines must develop coherent protocol in this regard. The plane carried only 50 blankets, to cater to a nearly full flight,” his post said.

Source: Hindustan Times