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.