Thursday, July 10, 2008

My Kingfisher Experience!

For a moment, I froze.

I was watching the screen in front of me onboard Kingfisher flight from Chennai to Delhi on the evening of 4th of July. To my horror it indicated that the plane has crossed Delhi and was heading straight towards the Himalayas. “Oh My God, pilots must be sleeping” was my first thought. (The news of Air India Pilots sleeping while flying from Jaipur to Mumbai and heading towards GOA was still fresh in my mind)

Next moment, the screen showed the statistics- Altitude, speed, distance and more. I realized that the aircraft is not at a cruising altitude and speed is pretty low. So it couldn’t be auto pilot. Still, something is wrong…Mount Everest is some 29000 feet in height. Current altitude is too low-Himalaya is nearing-should I storm into the cockpit and pull that lever up? (I love driving remember? An aircraft is no exception. I’ve seen in movies how they pull that lever up just seconds before a possible head-on collision with mountains ahead). That lady told there’s a life jacket beneath the seat, which could be used in case of water evacuation-will it save me if I have to jump on a mountain covered with snow? Why are they not keeping parachutes? Even skiing accessories would have helped…

Nearest emergency exit is 2 rows ahead of me-when should I start initial approach of jumping out? No one else seem to be worried about the impending disaster. May be they’re just not aware. May be I should use the remaining time to make a quick video of me explaining what’s happened and send it to National Geographic-they can use it for their “Seconds before disaster” or “Air crash investigations” programs. Wait-how do I send the video to them? Damn, I don’t have GPRS on my cell-even if I had, not sure if we get signal at this altitude-I should have taken Reliance connection-no air, no water, no land, nowhere to escape, but total network… Unless I send across the video, it will be a futile exercise-it’s likely that my mobile will never be discovered…Wait-what’s that thing which stores all crucial information about aircraft? Yes-black box- maybe I can open the black box and keep my cell phone inside it, so that investigators will understand what happened…

It took 6 minutes to type above lines, but all the above thoughts crossed my mind in less than 6 seconds. Then came the cabin announcement-“Due to congestion in Delhi airport we’ve been asked to circle around and our landing will be delayed-we regret for the inconvenience”

Oops! To yeh baath hain, pehle kyo nahin bataya? My brain immediately shifted gears-From Survival instincts and business continuity to Process optimization.

The screen now showed that the aircraft has now turned right and flying above Meerut. I felt like telling the pilot this-"-“
आप फालतू मैं चक्कर काट रहे हो मैं यहाँ उत्तर भारत देखने ही तो आया हूँ आप ज़ारा ऐसा कीजिए, हवाई जहाज़ को झरा नीचे लेके जाइए -दिल्ली का कुतुब मीनार, पार्लीमेंट, लाल किला, आगरा का ताज महल जैसे देखने लायक चीझोन्को आसमान से ही दिखा दीजिए, इन सबको देखने के वास्ते मुझे नीचे उतारकर ट्राफ़िक मैं फसना ना पड़े हाँ, अपुन को मालूम हैं, आप ज़्यादा नीचे नहीं जा सकते, इसी लिए तो मैं १५x आप्टिकल झूम वाला केमेरा जो लाया हूँ दिल्ली, आगरा, जेपुर सब घूम के आराम से नीचे उतरेंगे -तब तक दिल्ली का हवाई अड्डा बिल्कुल खाली हो जाएगा" (Hindi for: Why are you wasting time and fuel unnecessarily circling around? I’ve come all the way to see north India only-why don’t you go to a lesser altitude and show us the places like Kutub Minar, Red fort, parliament and other significant places from air itself? I’ll be happy if you save me from the trouble of having to survive Delhi traffic jam to visit these places. I know you can’t get too close, but that is fine, I’ve a 15x optical zoom camera with me. Let’s see Delhi, Jaipur, Agra, Mussoorie, hrishikesh, haridwar from up above and then leisurely land-Absolutely no problem)
Well, unfortunately my dream didn’t come true. Aircraft took half a circle and landed with a 30 min delay.

If this sounds as exaggeration, the Mussoorie express we travelled the same night (4th July) got derailed in Dehradoon station next morning, after we got out. (Some 5 bogies got derailed while the train was being moved to shed from station-there weren’t any passengers inside and no one was hurt-but that was pretty close)

Coming back to Kingfisher, Vijay Mallya has decided to discontinue the legendary Kingfisher Pouches and now they give the pen and earphones loose. That would have saved few rupees per passenger, amounting to few crores every year, but it is a bit disappointing to see that price pressure has led even King of Good times Vijay Mallya to compromise.

Also, all aircrafts give the mandatory demo of how to wear seatbelt and oxygen mask, besides other security measures. In my opinion, they should also give a demo of how to use various accessories and controls in and around the passenger. Lots of first time flyers these days who won’t have an idea as to how to push the seat back, how to turn on the overhead lamp, where to plug in that earphone or how to change channels (No one became frequent flyer without becoming first timer-so we can’t criticize first timers for not knowing things). Usually we don’t want to reveal that we don’t know anything and prefer to struggle with the controls ourselves, instead of asking a fellow passenger or cabin crew. If a demo is given for these activities, it would be really useful.

Also one more serious thought. 
Assume an aircraft is supposed to land at 5 PM. Don’t we have enough technology to predict the possible congestion at 5PM based on the details of other flights which are expected to land at the same time? If the airport is expected to be clogged at 5PM and a particular incoming aircraft will be expected to hover around for some time, is it not possible to predict it 30 min advance and convey the same to the specific aircraft? If we can tell the pilots at say 4.30PM that they may not able to land at 5PM but only by 5.20 PM, the speed of the aircraft can be reduced. They can fly slower and reach only by 5.20 PM. Flying slower will be more fuel efficient than flying few hundred kms extra. Wondering why can’t we do that.

Disclaimer: True incidents, narrated with slight exaggeration.

That’s it for now. Sing: Ulalalala ulle-o, Ulalalalla le-o
Similar: Selling cashew nuts on board Indigo * For cheapest air tickets book direct with airline *

18 comments:

Rajesh Kumar said...

Interesting post. Reminds me of my own Mumbai Goa flight on Kingfisher and we got awesome view all through. The GPS screen added some great excitement in the flight, since the entire flight was just along the coastline.

On a lighter note, something that narrates my experience waiting for arrival of a Deccan flight on which my relatives were traveling is on my post http://tinyurl.com/deccan

G Mohan Prakash said...

Nidhi,
In my near decade of flying experience only kingfisher can match international standards. Sad that they too have started taking things the way you have put it.

Your idea of slowing down is economical and if king reads this, definetly he will do it.

cheers
mohan!

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Rajesh Kumar,

Thanks for sharing your experience.


@ Mohan,

Thanks...May be I can mail the idea to chairman@flykingfisher.com?

Akshay said...

I enjoyed reading this stuff.... I get really scared in a plane even if there is little bit of turbulence....

Mohan said...

This is pretty normal in India. I had a similar experience a couple of times where in the flight always follows Indian Stretched Time (IST).

It was also funny to hear announcements like "The flight XXX has been delayed by 60 minutes due to air traffic congestion in Bangalore".. I kept laughing to myself... What the hell, i used to think the traffic woes are always on ground.. and this was new to me before the new international airport could open...

I have also read in some of the magazines and papers that every minute of air time for a given flight results in a loss of about INR 4000 per MINUTE!

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Akshay,

Ok...

@Mohan
Thanks for that info

Mridula said...

Very interesting screen shots of the flight route. I hope you put 15X zoom to good use! There should be a lot of travel reports?

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Yes Mridula, 5-6 posts are lined up

Siddharth said...

Hey nidhi....nice write-up there....

regarding your last comment....we do have the technology and it is used pretty well...the flights which are yet to take-off do get notified of bad weather at destination very much in advance.

also, this specific case you are talking about....there could be various reasons....

1.weather conditions may change after the plane takes off...

2. some flight might develop a snag and block the runway. this leads a lot backlog and traffic congestion.

there a lot of variable factors which may change after the flight take-off and one cannot predict....weather, ground handling equipment\staff might come across snags etc

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Sidharth:

I understand the unpredictable factors. Still, we can try to get close if not 100% perfect.

Thanks

K Bunyan said...

Very very nice post! * * * * * 5 starz!.

Actually ppl jst go on face value, KF is jst all about GLAMOR!. Technically specking i've had better landings and turbulence control wid deccan and Go air.Once dat red-chick snatched away my tray on a mum-goa flight... damn if u cant time ure serving schedule,.. dont serve ...

i dnt fly full cost ne more. simply coz mostly i fly to mumbai or bangalore, and ROKKA is also important, am not rich. .. and also d flying time from go to mum or b'lore wic is >1hr wid medium haul jets, like A320's and B737's...

YOUR POST SENSE OF HUMOR SIMPLY ROCKS!!!!.... due i fell off my chair laughin!!!... Keep up d good work!.

Respect
K

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Bunyan,

Ramanan said...

That was a nice read. your sense of humour is wonderful and so is your presence mind in case of an emergency. :)

aS regards the life vest, let alone parachutes, they don't really help. That's what I read somewhere. Most big aircrafts cannot do a safe water landing :(

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Ramanan,

Thanks.
Sorry for the late response...

Regarding water landing, we now have the example of big planes landing safely on river...

Arun Sundar said...

Lol...

Shrinidhi Hande said...

:)

Mayank said...

Interesting. But I think on some of our flights they have indeed announced the port congestions early and they sometimes slow down / detour. It would be fantastic to quantify what is the cost airlines pay for the congestion at airports. Maybe they would be willing to invest in airport developments if there was a payback.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Better is to develop secondary airports near major metros and connect them to main city by train.

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