I am flying with Air India in a few days. I needed to reschedule my flight to an earlier date and for that, I called up Air India Customer Care. The experience was kind of surprising, in a negative way. So here’s how the conversation between me and the customer Care agent went:
- Me: Hello! I am flying Air India from Destination A to Destination B on XYZ date. I want to reschedule my flight to an earlier date.
- Agent: Sure, I will help you with that (then he verified that I am the one who is flying by asking the origin, destination, the registered email ID and the passenger’s name).
- Me: I want to add that I am booked under a student fare that allows me to reschedule my flight once without paying any rescheduling fees.
- Agent: Let me look into your ticket details (then he put me on hold and looked at my journey and fare details and came back two-three minutes later).
- Agent (after coming back online): Ishan, as I can see in your ticket details, you will be required to pay a rescheduling fee of 2100INR and a fare difference of 1900INR; making a total of 4000INR in order to reschedule your flight.
- Me: I want to again inform you that as I am booked under a student fare, I am eligible for one free change, i.e. my rescheduling fee will be waived off.
- Agent: Ishan, can you tell me where is this written?
- Me: It’s written on the Air India website just before making a booking under a student fare. Plus, it’s also written in the “fare conditions” in my ticket.
- Agent: Can you please read me the fare conditions?
- Me: Sure! (then I read him the fare conditions)
- Agent: Let me check (then he again put me on hold for another two-three minutes).
- Agent (after coming back online): Ishan, I again checked your ticket details. You will have to pay 4000₹ to reschedule your flight.
- Me: I think you are not getting what I am saying. Can you please hand over this call to a different agent? I will try to explain my issue to him/her
- Agent: You want me to hand over this call to a different agent?
- Me: Yes
- Agent: Please give me a minute
- Me: Sure
- Agent: Is it okay if I hand over this call to my senior agent?
- Me: Yes, sure (then he transferred my call to a senior agent).
- Senior Agent: Thank you for calling Air India Customer Care. So my colleague told me that you want to reschedule your flight? Is that correct?
- Me: Right (then I again explained him all about the student fare conditions).
- Senior Agent: Let me look at your ticket. Please give me a minute.
- Me: Sure
- Senior Agent: Ishan, I checked your ticket. You will have to reschedule your flight by contacting your travel agent. They will only be able to help you in this case.
- Me: I have booked this ticket directly on the Air India website.
- Senior Agent: Let me look into it.
- Me: Okay
- Senior Agent: Ishan, so by looking at everything, you will have to pay 420INR. We are waiving off your rescheduling fee of 2100INR
- Me: Great! Thank you so much for understanding my concern
Then he sent me a payment link on my registered email ID and I processed the payment of 420INR. So what did the agent do wrongly?
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What to make of this?
Now, we all know where Air India was a few months ago and how the Tata Group is trying to improve each and every process at Air India.
The purpose of writing this article is to make all of you aware on how you can be mislead to pay higher fees incase you want to reschedule your flight. Now, in my case, as I am passionate about aviation, I was aware of the fare conditions of the fare class I had booked, in my case, a student fare.
Now the fact that the first agent was totally unaware of the student fare conditions shows you that the agent(s) is/are in need of training. When you call Customer Care to reschedule your flight, you expect the agent to know everything about the different fare classes and what are the fare conditions of those fare classes. In my case, the first agent did not have any knowledge about the fare conditions of a student fare. Then another thing which I observed was that the agent was kind of challenging me and asking me to locate where is it written that my rescheduling fees can be waived off. Now this is not what a Customer Care agent is supposed to do. In fact, it’s supposed to be totally opposite. What are airline Customer Care agents supposed to do is to help solve the query of passengers quickly and efficiently. In my case, as the first agent was clueless and stubborn, the call was very lengthy.
Now, when the first agent handed over the call to his senior colleague, he was unaware of the fact that I had booked directly from Air India. I am sure that the agents have access to the passenger database, including from where the passenger booked the ticket.
I also want to highlight that once I told the agent that I am booked under a student fare and that I had booked it directly from the Air India website, he understood and quickly resolved my issue. I want to appreciate the senior agent who was able to resolve my issue finally.
What I recommend to all of you is that if you want to reschedule your Air India flight, be very clear about the fare conditions under which you are booked so that you are not mislead for paying a higher price when you are supposed to be paying a much lower price. In my case, it was a difference of 3580INR (4000INR and 420INR) and 3580INR is not a small amount.
Air India seriously needs to improve its customer care service and train their customer care agents properly in order to help resolve passengers’ query in a better way.
Featured image by Air India
Have you faced a similar issue when talking to a Customer Care agent of Air India or any other airline? Let me know in the comments section below.