Atanu Dey On India's Development

Flight Information System

Here’s an idea. You are going to take a flight sometime in the afternoon. You SMS a particular well-known number. It reads, “Start flight S26641″. Immediately you get a response, “Welcome to updates on Jet Lite flight from Pune to Hyderabad. Estimated 20 minutes delay. ETD 1540 hours.”

Later, around 1 PM, you get another SMS “Jet Lite Pune to Hyderabad delayed 1 hr 20 minutes. ETD 1640.” You plan accordingly. Finally, just when you were about to leave home, another SMS arrives: “Jet Lite Pune to Hyderabad delayed 1 hr 40 minutes. ETD 1700 hours.”

You get to the airport around 1600 hours. You get an SMS at 16:30 saying “Jet Lite Pune to Hyderabad broading.” You proceed to the security and off you go. Once you pass through the boarding gate, the final SMS says, “Have a nice flight. End of transmissions.”

That would be nice. Wish I had that available last Monday. Till about 1:30 PM, I was following the status of the flight from Pune to Hyderabad on the web. It said 20 minutes late. But when I arrived at the airport, the flight was actually 80 minutes late. They did not inform me. And the worse thing was that the additional hour or so I spent waiting for the flight, it was not in peace. The system they have is hellish.

There is a constant stream of announcements. The announcements are loud, intrusive, and largely repetitive and long. For one particular flight, I heard 17 (I counted) “LAST AND FINAL” calls. The announcement was

“Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. May I have your attention please. This is the last and final call for Indian Airlines flight number IC 7453 to Bangalore. I repeat. This is the last and final call for Indian Airlines IC 7453 to Bangalore. All passengers are requested to proceed through security and await the boarding announcement at gate number 4. Have a nice flight and thank you for flying Indian Airlines.”

It is long and idiotic. Here’s a short version: “Attention please: proceed through security for Indian Airlines flight to Bangalore.” Short and to the point, only 11 words long. Their version is seven times longer, repeated till you are ready to scream.

Why do they say, “All passengers”? Is there an alternative — that perhaps only some passengers on that flight should do as instructed? And why do they have to repeat the last and final call a dozen times or more?

In fact, I think it is stupid to keep announcing stuff. Don’t treat people like idiots. They can read. They should be aware that there are displays with flight status. (And if there aren’t, then the airport should have them. The technology exists.) And if there are a few idiots who don’t board the flight unless they are prodded with cattle prods, well, punish them, not the average traveler.

Anyway, it will be some years before the idiots who manage airports in India figure out that there are simpler ways of keeping the traveling public informed without doing this sort of incessant announcements. In most of the rest of the developed world, the clear understanding is that no announcements will be made. The responsibility is on the passenger to get to the gate on time.

Indian airports will also do that–eventually. It will only take a few more years. It takes time for realization to dawn. India is generally a decade or two behind the curve. Deva, deva.

End of rant.

  • JanSan

    Still, aviation, among a few other things in India has come a long way in just a few years. Besides, everything (almost) in India “malfunctions” because Desis are in-charge. Sad but true.

  • http://honestlynagpur.blopspot.com kaunteya

    Yep absolute and unnecessary noise pollution at airports.

    Also one another thing I observed. Not sure if it is still done.

    Airports in India give personal service. For instance “Last and Final call from Mr.Gupta. Your flight XYZ is about to leave. Please report to the gate immediately…”

    “mr.Gupta we are waiting for you…”

    Mr. Gupta get lost… (i think that wud help)

  • http://jihadwatch.org/ Notsure

    The only time they would announce that if if MrGupta has checked his baggage.
    Otherwise they dont care if Guptas on board or not.
    Its a concern b/c Gupta may have gone to a Gupt location leaving Gu on board thats checked in to explode in mid air.

  • http://chaitanya1.wordpress.com chaitanya

    I hear you man. Common sense is the most commonly lacking sense. My own pet peeve is about unnecessary honking. Why do people honk when the traffic stopped at Red ? And, why do people honk immediately after the signal goes green, even though the people in front already started moving ? I read somewhere that this kind of abrasive noise increases blood pressure and heart rate. I have no doubt about that .. it keeps the body in a stressful state (perhaps it keeps sympathetic nervous signals activated ?), which has its own health side effects.

    My common workaround is to use cotton earplugs .. but i keep forgetting to carry them. I have to make it a habit to carry them in my wallet.

  • pankaj

    One more thing to add which i find very foolish in indian airports is “final call for flight no abcd1234″ announced several times .but having said that i enjoy indian airports they are hilarious because of us indians, foreign airports like Changi,JFK are boring as they are well organised.

  • mayuresh

    One more thing with the personalized service.
    If Mayuresh Gaikwad (or Atanu Dey or any other human being) does not reach his/her boarding gate on time despite the innumerable last and final calls, the airport staff sends runners looking for them all over the airport. Finally having identified them, they escort these people to the gate directly, sometimes without the irritating final checks at the boarding gate!

    Sometimes I wonder why we need to introduce so much redundancy in our systems, where your boarding pass is checked by ~ 10 different people stationed at different points in the route from the airport entrance to your seat in the aircraft. Scare of hijackers and bombs? I think not, as this happened even before 9/11

  • AGWorld

    All the behaviours are the direct outcome of a deeply ingrained “scarcity mentality”

    A mentality that is based upon constantly having to struggle for insufficient resources, bringing out the worst behaviours in people in an endless zero sum game.

    Thus people behave like hooligans and thugs everything — be it a seat on a bus, space on a road etc.
    This is not unique to india — commuters in undergrounds do it too.
    Indians, on the flip side, generally behave well when resources are plenty — the mumbai pune express way is a case in point (and one that atanu must have experienced).

    Notch up one more corrosive behaviour to the nehruvian stalinists and their license raj.

  • http://jihadwatch.org/ Notsure

    RE…”I think not, as this happened even before 9/11″
    LMAO on IGNORANCE.
    A Gabbar imitating Paddar Khalsa did not board and guess what happened on kanishka,
    WAY BEFORE 9-11.

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