Over the last 3 decades that I have been flying, I strongly felt that there is no airline worse than Air India in terms of service. However my recent trip to Mauritius made me realise I was so wrong, Air India is still better. The reason for my changed preference is not because Air India has suddenly improved. It is because I flew Air Mauritius, another government run airline who it seems is least bothered about it’s passengers, their requirements and making it a comfortable journey for them.
I was flying to one of the most popular tourist destinations of the world and on the bucket list of many. Am I glad my experience of the place momentarily made me forget my experience of the flight. When travelling to a place the journey itself is such a crucial factor, sad that the flight disappoints on so many fronts.
Unfortunately Air Mauritius is the only direct link between India and Mauritius while other flights take much longer and atleast twice the time of a direct link. Needless to say the flight is mostly booked. Interestingly it has code share with Air India but still it does not give air miles to its passengers. Is that understandable?
Please note Air Mauritius allows only 1 bag with upto 25kg weight. If you carry two bags within the weight limit, you will have to take 1 bag as a hand baggage. My only request while check in was to give me any aisle or window seat except the wings. Since I had reached the airport well in advance (4 hours), I was pretty sure this would be easily accommodated. But no, I was told they will change it at the boarding gate but to my utter disappointment that never got addressed.
I was looking forward to enjoying a movie and specially bought my personal ear plugs since the ones provided by most airlines don’t offer good sound. Unfortunately the entertainment system conked off even before it could start. After making 2-3 attempts, the Air Mauritius crew gave up and all passengers had no choice but to live through that over the 7 hour flight without getting any entertainment.
Well at this time only booze could help relax me but the staff told me that they will serve me post they serve the meal. Seriously? I felt like a kid where my parents are advising me to first drink the milk and then they will let me play.
I quietly ate my meal but the drinks never came. Why are crew at Air Mauritius saving the alcohol? The airline got its full money but I was denied alcohol and entertainment which is already built in the ticket cost.
Lesser said about the food of Air Mauritius the better. I was fortunate to get a good breakfast with some potatoes and veggies (no sausages too) while one of my friend who travels on this sector often with Air Mauritius complains that he is mostly served cold breakfast. However the paneer tikka roll was dry (reheated without cover) and was extremely spicy (even for someone who enjoys spicy food) with hardly any paneer. Please note we had to digest it without any alcohol.
My return experience was even worse. They simply turned a deaf ear to my request for a window or aisle seat. I asked for the fragile tag on my bag, but I was told that the stickers are out of supply. Seriously guys I thought you are running an airline and not fooling around. I was told that my hand baggage was 8.5 kg instead of 7 kg. Fair point. I wanted to keep my 2.5 kg jeans in the check in bag that was well below the weight limit. But madamji in a tearing hurry had already sent the bag on the conveyor list and it could not be recalled. She was quick to add keep the jeans in your hand and not in the hand baggage as they will check the hand baggage weight again. I have had bad experiences with many airlines but so many bad ones in one journey, never.
I boarded the flight and look at the size of the entertainment system. It is smaller than my Plus size phone screen. Not to worry, I adjusted as I was adjusting to the air-conditioning which was already making me sweat.
Flight has taken off. I am dreading the meal and won’t even dare to ask for alcohol. Who knows this time I may get a lecture on the ill effects of alcohol.