IndiGo Airlines on Thursday came in for sharp criticism from a panel of lawmakers, who describe the behaviour of the staff of the low-cost airline as “condescending and rude”.
“While narrating some of the incidents of misbehaviour in airlines, especially in IndiGo, the majority of the (Committee) members opined that the attitude of airlines staff is very condescending, often uncooperative and on many occasions, downright rude,” the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture says in a report.
The report comes a year after a couple of IndiGo ground staff manhandled a person at Delhi airport following a tiff with him. A video of the incident went viral, thanks to an airline employee who acted as a whistle-blower.
“Our committee is very clear that the worst performing airline for consumers is IndiGo, They haven't responded in spite of many complaints. IndiGo even charge for 1-2 kg overweight, this has not been taken very well and the committee is looking into the matter seriously,” Trinamool MP Derek O'Brien, who chairs the panel, said at a press conference here.
“An institution like IndiGo has to develop a consumer-friendly approach in dealing with their passengers. IndiGo needs to look inward and find out the reasons for the discourteous attitude and rude and indifferent behaviour of their employees, whether it is their cabin crew or the ground staff,” says the report tabled in both Houses of the Parliament last week.
The Parliamentarians also found the low-cost airline wanting in terms of having an adequate number of check-in counters at the airports. Also, it refused to serve food to the passengers on-board even with medical conditions like diabetes.
“The Committee was informed that there are great difficulties in getting water and food in low-cost airlines especially in IndiGo. In IndiGo, the food has to be pre-booked and onboard, if someone demands food, they refuse to provide the food even to those who are diabetic and suffering from other medical conditions,” says the report.
“A passenger has to report to the airport counter two hours before the departure time and one has to spend a few more hours in the flight without food and water and it is a horrible thing to face. The committee, therefore, recommends that IndiGo and other low-cost airlines should take adequate steps to ensure that food is available to the passengers on demand especially to those who are having some medical conditions,” it adds.
On inadequate check-in facilities, the panel suggested that the number of check-in counters and personnel deployed at the counters should be directly proportional to the number of flights being operated by the airlines from a particular airport.
“What the passenger wants is a quick check-in, without long queues and a smooth process of security check. Despite huge claims of airlines regarding the check-in process, the committee is compelled to observe that the check-in counters are in a mess, especially those of the low-cost airlines such as IndiGo,” says the report.
While the MPs asked the Union Civil Aviation Ministry to step in, the ministry passed the buck arguing that “Check-in process, check-in counters and collection of luggage are commercial issues and the government does not interfere with the commercial activities of the airlines.”
The ministry received flak from the Parliamentarians for such a response. “The ministry is following a hands-off approach so far as check-in process and check-in counters are concerned. The ministry should take proactive steps to contain malpractices committed by private airlines in deliberately delaying check-ins and artificial overbooking of flights not only by taking strict action against them but also imposing heavy penalties on them,” it adds.
To the airline, the Parliamentarians' advice is to improve staff behaviour. “An institution like IndiGo has to develop a consumer-friendly approach in dealing with their passengers. The arrogant behaviour of employees should stop,” it adds.