I go, I go: Indigo!
About two weeks back, a VC & I were traveling back from a start-up event in Hyderabad. Unfortunately (well fortunately too), both our flights were delayed by a couple of hours. After the usual biz-talk over a hot plate of idli’s, the conversation drifted towards my ‘now popular ‘ airline jinx. I was rather surprised to see a man of his stature giving the “first right of refusal’ in air travel to a low-cost airline – Indigo… that really got me thinking.
“Someone once said running an airline today is more excruciating than getting a root canal without anesthesia. Rahul Bhatia’s (Indigo) seems to have found the magic portion that makes this root canal as pleasant as a Venetian gondola ride.”
Most corporate travel is influenced by the color of the tag on your bags (or should I say the complexion of the hostess 🙂 ) or by the best laid out – eye candy baits in the form of miles, free tickets, lounge access & the ever so elusive free upgrades. Indigo seems to have cracked that code. And now a season of back to back hat trick of unreasonable flight delays have made me go Indigo!
A. Indigo model healthy, profitable & sustainable : I find it hard to expect great service from an airline under losses. I hear Kingfisher doesn’t have money to pay for fuel – lo behold! last-minute flight cancellations! Jet canceled the most popular 17.30 & 19.20 flights out of Bangalore. You are now forced to take the 20.25 – always delayed – Jet lite or pay a 3x premium for the 19.00 kingfisher. It sure seems like a cartel to me.
B. Indigo exceeds expectation: They seem to be consistent in exceeding expectations. Well, frankly how often does a guy like me gets personalized, last name based greetings!
C. Doing things differently: There are many “Ah I’ve not seen that before” things. Here’s just a 10 of them
i. Handheld PDA’s to scan your boarding pass – Saves time!
ii. Recorded welcome messages in transit buses.
Ah, no more funny questions – “Are sure you are going flying to Bangalore? Are you sure? Lock Kardhun? ” – No you moron I am flying to Timbuktu! I just hoped in for a free ride in your bus.
iii. Ramps instead of steps for boarding – Saves time, is convenient & is disable friendly.
iv. The hostesses actually do a lot of work! – Quick turn around time.
v. Never heard any other airline include the term “boys & girls” in their welcome messages.
vi. Hostesses slip out of high heals into flat shoes for easy in-flight movement.
vii. All travelers are advised to check for trash in their seats and hand it over to the hostesses – lesser time to clean the flights!
viii. Preferential Seat Selection while booking – Be ready to pay for long leg room – well I really don’t mind a Rs.400 premium for that.
ix. Creative in-flight announcements: The hostess walks right in to the walk-way, makes eye contact with the passengers before any announcements, instead of sitting in a corner reading out from that worn-out pocket diary. Some not-so-critical announcements are done post take off to save time. Not just that, I even found some warm & genuine sounding statements in their script. They even mention the languages the hostesses can speak! Wow.
x. ‘Corporate’ treatment: A flat fee commitment across the country (at least for my employers). You also get treated like a business class passenger. I attracted some angry stares from fellow passengers mumbling –“what’s he got that I ain’t got!
D. And here’s the big one: On time service – When punctuality is being seen as an achievement by the biggies, these guys are making a habit out of it.
But then like a Jet-Platinum, King-Gold colleague of mine mentioned, Indigo doesn’t have too many flight options, they don’t fly in peak hours and they don’t have any loyalty programs.
Agreed! But then, there is no denying that very soon most corporate travelers will look beyond loyalty programs & will make Indigo their first choice for these three main reasons.
Reason 1: Fundamental thing about air travel is on time arrival – these guys are making a habit of it. IndiGo just owns 8% of the market share in terms of operating flights but a market share of 16.5% in terms of passenger traffic – doesn’t that explain a lot. Now add to that a profit of 550 crores while spice jet just makes 67 crores & the others are still red!
Reason 2: It’s sensible to expect good service only from a profitable airline. They are unlikely to cancel, delay flights for “unavoidable reasons’.
Reason 3: Customer service is not lip service here. They seem to be serious about it.
So here I go ….I go I go Indigo ! Viva la Indigo
well not all is rosy as it looks vimal.. i have a incident to narrate about my indigo flight from delhi to chennai on the 19th of june’11.my wife was feeling feverish once the flight took off and i asked the airhostess first for a blanket which she refused stating that they do not carry any…i then requested for a paracetamol tablet….she disappeared….i then called their head and she told me that they had only two of them and some other passenger had taken it…so they were out of stock….i said,never mind….please give me the suggestion form where i can record my suggesstions….she again replied in the negative that they had forgotten to upload them before take off…mind you vimal…suggestion forms are mandatory for any airline…i again told her politely that i will take up the matter with the higher ups in the airline..you will not believe,the airhostess was practically on her knees in front of me,apologising asking me not to complain. for our surprise in the next five minutes she gave us a pack of 10 paracetamol tablets. we were surprised and when i asked her as to from where these tablets appeared she had the cheek to reply that she had to remove them from the emergency medical aid box….i laughed and told her that i had requested only because there was an emergency………..anyways….moral of the story…do not get carried away easily……there is always the other side of the coin…the younger generation has a long way to go to understand customer service…..
Thanks for sharing krishna. As you rightly said there is always two sides to a coin
i agree with krishna there man. i quite frankly found your column a bit one sided da. it’s not always the way it seems da. it’s much more than that. too – just because your few experiences were a bit better than what you had with the other airlines doesn’t necessarily make them the good airline and a testimony to profitability as a case for good customer service and stuff. but the line of thought is probably going in the right direction i would think 🙂
There is no denying the fact not everything is perfect about Indigo…. and like always I am positively ‘over ‘optimistic of things i like 🙂 The fact of the matter is that of late 7 out 10 business travelers are finding Indigo better than Jet or Kingfisher…. Profitability & good service has to go hand in hand man…. you don’t want cancellations in the last minute due to operational reasons, which means no money to pay for fuel like hari mentioned the other day!