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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The dream that "was" Air India - an experience of a life time

Hi friends

Been away from my blog for some time...

But I have to write again.

This is about India's flagship carrier Air India which provided me with my worst travel experience till date. 

Day 1 - June 1' 2013
I began my journey on June 1' 2013 from the JFK, New York airport, USA bound for Kolkata, India. I was scheduled to reach on June 2' 2013.

I shall start off with my experience at the baggage counter. My baggage were overweight and had to be trimmed down. At the end of it, I ended up with a set of four check in luggage instead of three that I had initially planned for. I handed out 400$ to the Air India desk to pay for my 2 extra pieces of luggage. 
Exhibit 1: Receipt at the JFK airport for extra 2 pieces of luggage

Anyway, I had it done and after the needed security checks I boarded the flight. I took my window seat and found the headphones to be broken. The towels were clearly unwashed and had hair on them.

I settled down and surrendered to my destiny with no idea that the worst part was yet to surface.

After a part of my journey, I decided to relieve myself and went to the washroom. The basin had hair and water clogged in it. There were hardly any napkins, some were strewn on the floor. The toilet bowl was difficult to use given the amount of dirt on it, but I shut down my senses and forgot about it.

Anyway, the food was okay. The flying staff were courteous.

Day 2 - June 2' 2013 - Delhi Airport
After a long journey, I finally reached Delhi Airport. At the Delhi Airport, I had my immigration done and proceeded to pick up my baggage from the carousel. Three of my bags arrived fine, but one did not. This had never happened to me before and I was at my wit's end as I stared blankly at the empty carousel revolving again and again with no bag on it left. The staff of Air India started inquiring of me if I was expecting another baggage to which I nodded a nervous yes! 

I took out the 4 luggage claim tags provided to me at the JFK Airport and provided them to the Air India desk so that they could file the PIR (Property Irregularity Report) on my behalf. 
Exhibit 2: Property Irregularity Report (PIR) copy

I was told that this was a normal phenomenon and that I should expect my bag to arrive by the next flight.

At this time, I was worried, but was taken by the assurances and proceeded with my journey.

I was supposed to take the Air India flight from Delhi at 5PM IST, but found out that it had been rescheduled at 6PM IST. 

I boarded the flight and this leg of the journey was event less. The food was good and the flying staff were courteous. I did not need the washroom (thankfully).

Day 2 - June 2' 2013 - Kolkata Airport
I landed at the Kolkata airport and immediately started waiting at the carousel for my bags to arrive. The ones I received at the Delhi airport arrived fine, but the one that was missing was still missing.
I checked with the Air India person who was on a call at that time. He seemed to be more interested in his call than about speaking with me. Anyway, I finally received a dry reply that I would have to call the following day at a land line number if I needed any information.

I was happy about reaching home but my happiness was marred by this sad incident.

The next few days were spent in endless calls and emails with the Air India baggage services team based in Delhi. Finally I was told that the bag was still at JFK and found in tagless condition in the Delta premises!!!

On Wed, Jun 5, 2013 at 11:15 AM, DEL BAGSVCS <DEL.BAGSVCS@airindia.in > wrote:

Dear Sir,
This has reference to your mail below.
At the outset please accept our sincere apology for the inconvenience caused.
We wish to advise you that the bag is traced with Newyork Delta without tag but same has your 
name and address on it.We have requested Delta airlines to forward this bag to India but unfortunately
no forwarding details  are advised so far.
We are requesting our Newyork office to laise with Delta and revert on priority basis.
We shall keep you advise the status.
Harminder Kaur
Baggage Services Delhi

I was unable to understand how an Air India checked-in bag could be found in tagless condition. This took another few days just to get Delta re-deliver this bag to Air India JFK to move it to India and this email probably helped.

---------- Forwarded message ----------

Date: Thu, Jun 6, 2013 at 4:06 PM
Subject: AHLDELAI49953/OHDJFKDL14329
To: Donald.h.ricker@delta.com, Chiranjib Mazumdar
Cc: JFK Baggage Services , Riwo Norbhu

Dear Mr Ricker,

Greetings !

This has reference to the trailing mail.

We wish to bring to your notice that the above OHDJFKDL14329 is definite match for our
AHLDELAI49953 favour Mr Chiranjib Mazumdar.

Despite our ROH requests/PXF messages/TELE typt msgs to forward the above OHD on firav to Delhi on 03JUN/04JUN/05JUN,
the same was forwarded to HDQDL on board DL1731/03JUN under rush tags DL051929/DL282723.

We need your urgent intervention in the matter as baggage contains very important documents and required by
passenger on urgent basis.It has become very difficult for us to explain the passenger regarding delay in
getting the bag from Delta.

Harminder Kaur
Baggage Services Delhi

JFKAI-You are also requested to liaise with Delta and revert with forwarding details.

Finally I was told that the bag would reach on June 10' 2013. I was happy about it and even appreciated the person who had put her effort in getting the bag delivered.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Chiranjib Mazumdar
Date: Mon, Jun 10, 2013 at 11:51 AM
Subject: Re: AHLDELAI49953/OHDJFKDL14329

Hi Harminder
Thanks a lot!!!
Really appreciate your hard work on this.
Please let me know when the bag is boarded for Kolkata!
Thanks again!

On Mon, Jun 10, 2013 at 11:31 AM, DEL BAGSVCS <DEL.BAGSVCS@airindia.in> wrote:

Dear Sir,
Greetings !
This has reference to mail below.
We wish to advise you that bag is received in Delhi just now.
We shall clear the bag from customs and advise you the forwarding details for Kolkatta.
Harminder Kaur
Air India Kolkata finally delivered the bag to me on June 11' 2013. But my happiness was converted to doubt the moment I had a look at the lock.
My TSA lock was intact but the hooks were opened. The lock had been broken! It was temporarily sealed with a yellow tape. The person who delivered the bag asked for tips and I replied back - "I would have, had the lock not been broken."

Picture Notes: Please observe the TSA lock intact, but one hook has been tampered and displaced from its base, so it is dangling by the lock. The other end is fixed as usual, but of course this helped the thieves steal.

I could not wait to check my bag after I returned home with it and yes, my worst fears had come true!

This is what was missing -
Wrist Watches - Count 4
Macbook charger - Count 2
Commemorative 50 states of USA quarter set - Count 1
Portable 2TB Seagate hard disk - Count 1
Apple IPad Charger - Count 1
Dolica Camera Tripod - Count 1
The loss, more than monitory, was of emotional value as some of the items were intended for gifts and even the others have to be purchased by me all over again! 

I got in touch with Air India and notified them about this loss...

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Chiranjib Mazumdar
Date: Tue, Jun 11, 2013 at 6:02 PM
Subject: Re: AHLDELAI49953/OHDJFKDL14329

Cc: baggageservicesccu@gmail.com, CCU BAGSVCS , ER CustomerService

Hi - Please find below the updated list of missing items -
Wrist Watches - Count 4
Macbook charger - Count 2
Commemorative 50 states of USA quarter set - Count 1
Portable 2TB hard disk - Count 1
Dolica tripod - Count 1
Ipad2 charger - Count 1
Sorry, if I knew that my items will be stolen from your "esteemed" carrier, I would have listed everything down prior to boarding my aircraft.
I shall update my list as I remember stuff I had.
Please let me know what you can do!

On Tue, Jun 11, 2013 at 4:36 PM, DEL BAGSVCS wrote:

    Dear Mr. Mazumdar,
    This has reference to our telephonic conversation and your trailing mail regarding some items alleged to be missing from your mishandled baggage delivered by our Kolkata Office today.
    At the outset, please accept our sincere apologies for all the inconvenience caused to you due to the above.
    Further, please be advised that as per procedure, the Station which delivers the mishandled baggage, is required to conclude any claim which may arise post-delivery of the same.  Since the mishandled baggage was delivered by our Kolkata Office, we request you to liaise with them.  This mail is being marked to the Kolkata Office also for their necessary action.
    Thanking You and assuring you of our prompt attention at all times.
    Yours faithfully,
    R.R. Khurana
    Dy. Manager- Baggage Services/INTL.
    -----Chiranjib Mazumdar wrote: -----

    From: Chiranjib Mazumdar
    Date: 11/06/2013 03:06PM

    Subject: Re: AHLDELAI49953/OHDJFKDL14329

    Hi - I received my bag today, but regret to inform you that I found the lock to be broken and temporarily sealed with a plastic fixer. I mentioned this fact in my "receipt note" from the delivery man. When I came home with the bag and I opened it, I found several items missing. List below -
    Wrist Watches - Count 4
    Macbook charger - Count 2
    Commemorative 50 states of USA quarter set - Count 1
    Portable 2TB hard disk - Count 1
    These are the ones that I can remember at this point in time.
    I am deeply saddened by this loss, as I did pay extra 400$ just to bring in 2 extra pieces of check-in luggage.
    I wish to know what steps you can take to compensate me for this loss, because I have travelled with Lufthansa, Emirates, American Airlines in the past and this is the first time this happened to me!
    This was be my last trip with Air India, I promise you!
    I would wait for your response...

The Delhi baggage services told me to get in touch with Kolkata as they had delivered the bag to me. The Kolkata baggage services told me to get in touch with Delhi and none of them had a clue on what could be done.
The Kolkata Air India duty manager called me up one afternoon (June 15' 2013) and told me he was sorry about the loss and that he had seen my emails but he reiterated that he had delivered the bag the way it had been received. He did not wish to take ownership of the loss. When I insisted that I was not the person responsible for the loss, he said he would connect with Delhi on this, but after that no response was received.
Since then I have tried to send multiple emails to get a response from them on any sort of compensation, but no positive responses were received and today I found out while replying back that my email to them had been marked as "spam"!  

Air India, being India's flagship airline carrier - Can we not expect greater initiative to provide for customer satisfaction? Do we board international flights to have stuff stolen from our bags? Who is responsible for the fact that my check in bag was found like an orphan in tag less state? Who is responsible for affixing tags to bags? 



And finally, I wrote my last email to Air India yesterday and they did not respond, as I expected...

From: Chiranjib Mazumdar
Subject: Attn: AIR India Head Quarters, AIR India Customer Services or anyone from Air India who cares about customers!Date: June 24, 2013 11:28:02 AM GMT+05:30To: Sangeeta Vaidya , DEL BAGSVCS , HQ TFCSVCS , ER CustomerService , CCU APT , CCU BAGSVCS , del.reservationmanager@airindia.in
Attn: AIR India Head Quarters, AIR India Customer Services or anyone from Air India who cares about customers!
Hi - I need a reply from you to conclude this conversation.
For the aforesaid details mentioned (File reference: AHLDELAI49953/OHDJFKDL14329), given the fact that I incurred a loss of the items below after I received my lost baggage in lock broken, temporary sealed condition, is your airlines liable or able to compensate me?
A simple yes or no will help me.
Please do not send me standard customer communication templates (we are sorry blah blah). I need a simple "Yes, we will provide compensation" OR "No we will not provide compensation." [I assume you do not have the capability to retrieve stolen items]
Can you KINDLY do that PLEASE?
List of items stolen -
Wrist Watches - Count 4Macbook charger - Count 2Commemorative 50 states of USA quarter set - Count 1 Portable 2TB Seagate hard disk - Count 1Apple IPad Charger - Count 1Dolica Camera Tripod - Count 1[There may be more items, but sorry, I did not list them down before packing my baggage]
I incurred an estimated loss IN EXCESS OF Rs. 25000 plus harassment / agony for this unforeseen delay and eventually loss!I paid 400$ for 2 extra pieces of baggage at the JFK NY Airport.
I shall take no response from you by end of day tomorrow (June 25' 2013) as a negative response from your end and I will understand that you will not provide me any sort of compensation!
Based on your response or a lack of it, I shall think about next steps to take.

-- Best regards,Chiranjib Mazumdar

I do not plan to travel with this airline in future based on my experience and readers, based on what you have read, I shall leave it to you to decide what you would like to do!

Update (July 30' 2013) - Air India provided me with some compensation.


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