My experience Air India Flight from Vancouver to New Delhi (October 27, 2022):
The wheelchair access requested for my spouse, Pragna: Well, well – I have seen better services. We got the drop off to the security check (from the check-in counter) by a battery operated cart. “Your Maple Leaf lounge is just after the check-in. Someone will pick you up when your departure is announced.”
Quite helpful. Pragna limped through the check-in, unassisted, and without the help of a cane. (You have booked a wheelchair assist, why do I need a cane?).
Maple Leaf lounge, I am not a stranger. Same old stuff, and uninterested staff members. But it was clean. And a very few options for vegetarians. No bread, no toast. As promised, the cart came to pick up and drop off at the departure gate (quite far from the lounge – a good thing). From then on, fight for yourself.
Amongst melee of people, we managed to sneak past to board the plane. The most uninterested person waved us towards an entrance for the economy section (without checking our boarding passes).
“Aren’t you supposed to check the boarding pass and then guide?”
All Indians, including PM of UK and his mother in law, are cattle class.
Despite choosing the seats online (my bad, I didn’t do proper enquiry at the check-in counter), Pragna and I were made to seat in tandem Seats 9C and 10C.
“My wife has some mobility issues, and I need to be with her” met with a quick response. New seats in the middle sections were assigned. Next to an elderly lady who spoke only Punjabi. Welcome to India.
After few minutes, we realized that the window seats had non-functioning recliners – hence they were not assigned to anyone. Seven seats out of 8 window seats (in my section) were unassigned due to this fault. Welcome to Air India. Don’t count your losses, please.
I noticed that other ‘working’ seats had some issues as well. My Television insisted on showing me the route to Delhi, despite several attempts to watch something else. Pragna’s headphones were squeaking and churning out the humming sound incessantly. You are requested to be away from the TV, etc. Enjoy the plain plane ride, please.
Overall, the hardware sucked.
The hardware sucked, but the service?
Exemplary! I loved the way we wee pampered. The hand luggage was properly shelved and the staff (who initially tried to speak with me in Punjabi, then switched to Hindi and English) helped us in every way. We felt we were home already. I would rate the staff a 10 out of 10; and the hardware – at 3 out of 10.
An average of 6.5.
The old age adage was again driven home to us:
YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR. If you use peanuts, all you get is monkeys.