Saturday, February 18, 2006

Low-cost, high-fear?

Originally uploaded by The Big K.
I'm on a quick Delhi-run, because my friend of the last god knows how many years, Sharma is getting married. And even though I booked my tickets late, I got a great deal on Air Deccan. My ticket came for Rs 2221, including taxes, but I got 10 per cent cash-back on my credit card, making it even cheaper. Just to add a point of comparison, a II-tier ticket on the Bombay-Central to Nizammudin Rajdhani costs Rs 2240.
Even though, low-cost air travel is great, I mean I can travel around for a third of the fare that Jet used to charge, there are times I wonder if things aren't happening too fast. On the flight the other day, just before we were about to take off, a passenger kept on using the 'call' button. When the air-hostesses came, he insisted that the wing was falling apart. Actually, the flaps were in take-off position, but this dude was going nuts, he wanted to get off the plane. I'm not trying to be a snob or anything, but this was weird. I guess the safety announcement at the start should also state that the noises you hear before take-off and landing are the landing gear, flaps and engines powering-up. In fact, Air Deccan actually had a problem of people whacking life-jackets, and now they had to put the theft-alert systems on those systems.
But what was scary, at least from the perspective of someone who has flown a fair bit was the flying. Because of a shortage of Commander's in India, expats are flying for all these low-costs. And some of these guys are totally beserk. I have flown out of Bombay enough times, but never had I experienced a take-off quite so violent. The guy, something -manov (seemed Russian or Ukrainian) just went nearly vertical as if he was still on a MiG fighter.
And I'm not the only person who has suffered from mad low-cost flying tales. Another friend swore off low-costs because during one approach on Air Deccan into Delhi the pilot pointed the plane straight towards the ground. A third acquaintance, who flew SpiceJet, and this is a person who holds Gold and Platinum level Frequent-Flyer cards was so shaken up by the experience that he has sworn off kanjoosi. In fact with both Indian Airlines and Jet Airways offering bargain basement prices (as low as Rs 2700 with taxes) even two-three days before the flight (as low as Rs 3500 before taxes) both through their website and MakeMyTrip, I don't see why I should fly on an airline that charges me Rs 12 for water. But then again, even if I save Rs 500, its money that can be spent on something else, and its only for two hours. But, then again, if they keep scaring the beejezus out of me every time I fly, I might just pay that Rs 500-1000 more for an airline I feel safer on. And the water is for free.
However, I've said this before and I'll say it again, sometimes these low fares puzzle me a lot. I wonder how the hell they can be sustained. With Indigo airlines starting up later this year with fares even lower than that of Deccan, things can only get more economically unsustainable, especially if jet-fuel prices and pilot salaries keep going through the roof. However, cheapness is always a good thing for consumers, now someone should do a 'How it Works' special on aircraft on one of the news channels - it would be more watchable than the random shit they usually do.
On another note, to readers of this blog who told me about something about a magazine - no that ain't me. And now for some nice fun links.
This was an article that caught my eye.
This blog is by Ren&Stimpy's creator, John Krifcalusi, which is a very interesting read!
The news and the link has spread all over the world by now, but I though that I would also add a link to the Israeli Anti-Semetic Cartoon contest, which is a great idea.
This is a damn neat photoblog, best food photography I've seen in a bit
Kumi Machida's ink paintings, damn neat and sometimes disturbing.
In the 1950's Americans were warned what to do if an A-Bomb falls - nice comic.
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Hiren said...

Yesterday my brother-in-law came in Kingfisher and he was made to wait for half an hour after alighting from the plane because there was no bus waiting. One just hopes that this low cost is not at the cost of safety and human lives.

thalassa_mikra said...

In defence of low-costs, some of my most pleasant flying experiences have been aboard Easyjet, the carrier that started the low-cost craze. The take-offs and landings are always smooth, and so what if they charge you for drinks and food, the flights are short anyway.

On a flight from London to Geneva, the girl next to me started hyperventillating in panic, and the attendants were amazingly sweet, reassuring her, holding her hand, and managing to calm her down.

In the US, the low-cost carrier JetBlue has a great reputation for flying comfort and attentive staff.

Shivangi said...

Oh yea, i was going to ask you... How was the wedding?

K said...

Hiren : I've no doubt that safety, at least from a technical point of view will be compromised. The DGCA ensures that. I'm just worried that an inexperienced air crew or an overworked ATC will do something stupid. After all, 90 per cent of incidents are due to human error.
T_M : The problem with some of the air-crew is that they are very inexperienced. In the UK and US flying isn't a new phenomenon for a large amount of the population. In India, the weird thing is that you have air-hostesses who have hardly ever flown before onboard a plane until they got the job, I've seen one get rattled by (not so bad) turbulence on a Deccan flight. You don't get used to flying overnight, it is after all an unnatural thing.
Shivangi : Doosra Blog

Anonymous said...

On a completely unrelated topic -- I'm doing some research and would like your input (you appear to be in the media?). Who would you say are among the top ten most successful businesspeople in India? I would like some women on this list (if posible). Thanks! I'd rather have something more than the usual hackneyed slew.

I realize this is an anonymous post -- but frankly, I don't like leaving my name on the web. I'd be happy to contact you privately if you provide an email.

K said...

Look in my profile - anyway for your benefit its presstalk [at] gmail [dot] com