Surprised to read the title, how unknowingly to me, Indian railway has gone to such progressed status? This might be the question you may be asking to self? No dear still the services of Indian railways are limited to terrestrial faculty only, I am talking about the “Budget Air lines” opening a new, affordable and time saving travel alternative available for the Indians.
I was bit excited on the morning of 5th February 2008 as it was first chance for me to board on a domestic flight covering the distance between Pune and Delhi. The first thing which surprised me was the instruction of Airline “ We prefer reporting time two hours prior to schedule time of flight”, as I was traveling from Kolhapur to Pune by train, which was schedule to reach at Pune early morning, well ahead of schedule time of flight, so it was not a problem for me.
My son’s friend Deepak was waiting for me at Pune station, after detraining he took me to Pune Air port at Lehgaon, where we sit for discussion on share market and mutual funds. I was traveling Delhi for the shooting of first nine episodes of “Public Ka Vittmantri” and as this was one of the nine topics on which every participant was supposed to express the expectation of common people from the forthcoming union budget of the country. Deepak being an investment guide was the perfect person to learn more about the faculty.
At about 10:30 Deepak asked my permission for reaching to his office on time and after that I was there at the front desk of “Indigo” after handing over my check in luggage I was with boarding pass and about 80 minutes of time before the boarding. Really it was pity that at waiting lounge Tea was almost tasteless and I was forced to go out to have one with smoke at canteen outside. Surprisingly I was allowed to step out even with boarding pass.
Almost one hour before the schedule time we have been asked to proceed for security check in and wait in the departure lounge. Fan wings of the plane started moving almost 15 minutes after the schedule departure time. I asked the lady from the cabin crew after we were stable in air for some biscuits and water. The service was very prompt but I was still drinking the water she returned back and asked me for paying Rs. 20/- for the two pieces of cookies, for which you might not preferred to pay even Rs. 5/- while buying from the market. The surprised were still not finished as I have to wait almost one hour for collecting my check in luggage at Delhi Air port. Yet another surprised was stored there for my return journey by “go air” where even drinking water was the paid service.
I am not objecting for the paid catering service, my objection is with the quality and rates, when the air line companies are realizing that they have to remain within the budget of middle class economy on the fare fronts why the same realization is not visualized for the catering? Surely paying something between the Rs. 80 and Rs. 150/- for a vegetable sandwich or Rs. 10/- for a 200 ml drinking water bottle is not within the affordability of Indian middle class economy.
As for as the leg space is concern it was even narrower than the leg space of 2X2 Asiad buses but as the most of the passengers were traveling a distance to be covered in the duration of 2-3 hours hence this can be taken as the avoidable discomfort.
My, this travel experience will remain incomplete for me if I forget to mention Mr. Bharat, the cook at guest house of Zee at Delhi. Host in true sense, humble in nature, a person with ability of understanding your choice of food within seconds. As the concluding remark I wish to thank Mr. Dinesh Joshi [from Zee Business] producer of “Public ka Vittmantri” for taking efforts for making my stay at Delhi comfortable.