Friday, November 11, 2011

Air India - making you fly back in time

 "Do you have an e-mail address where I can send my complaint?"
"Yes Sir, its dubloo dubloo airindia..."
"This is a website. I need an e-mail address."
"Sir, this is all that we have."
 ... and suddenly I realized that I was speaking to the wrong person. I went up-to the reservation manager and asked for an email address. She opened her diary, flipped a few pages and gave me four email ids - one of them a Gmail account.

I did not send any email. I imagined my email being printed, cyclostyled, punched in several files, being passed from table to table and finally being under someone's tiffin box. Hence I stopped myself from creating a horrendous fate for an electronic document. I decided not to trouble the Air India staff anymore since they must have a lot of their own.

My recent visit to the Bangalore's Air India office was more or less  taking a ride back in time. You might feel the 70's or 80's air there. And probably their IT systems make a good attempt to fit in snugly as well. While it took them around two long hours to issue four tickets (the reservation details were already in their system), it was fun to observe them struggling between the keyboard, mouse and the calculator. I do not intend to make fun of the technologically challenged here, but when its someone's bread and butter, it is expected that he/she gets comfortable with it over the period of time.

Interestingly, every staff member maintained a diary, which seemed to be a Bible of fare calculation rules. These rules were hand-written, and the poor ticketing agent had to execute these rules manually to calculate the airfare for each ticket. Either they did not have the systems for automating these small decisions, or they did not use it if it existed. Either ways, I judged that that there's an year long paid vacation for the fellows in their IT department.
My precious two hours at the Air India office taught me two things: 
  • Befriend a ticketing agent at Air India with a 'diary-of-fare-calculation-rules'.
  • Grab the opportunity if there is a recruitment drive in Air India's IT department and your skill fits.