The government of India now seems to be committed to selling Air India, the state-owned airlines. An organization with its glorious past will finally cease to exist. Despite giving several moments of pride to Indians, Air India also has remained the butt of the joke. There has been a whale of a difference between Air India and its contemporary private airlines on many counts with the age of the cabin crew and their concept of hospitality, at the top.

When most of the staff of Air India was near retirement, the private airlines were born. The young and energetic cabin crew of these new airlines were a class apart. Joseph, my coworker at my earlier job was at his best whenever this topic came up. He said that during the travel, he was always tempted to go and ask the cabin crew typically resting somewhere in the empty seats if they needed any help & care.

When it was a matter of courtesy, the government employees could go only so far, despite being in the hospitality industry. I have a funny story to tell about the ground staff of Air India.

Those were the days when the passengers had to identify their luggage before boarding. Unidentified luggage was often the source of headaches for the airlines. We were all boarded on an Air India flight and were waiting for the flight to take off. Then all of sudden a fuming ground staff stormed into the flight and appeared to be racing towards my seat. She looked at a piece of paper for the seat number and stopped at the row just ahead of mine.

“It looks like you don’t want your luggage to reach Bangalore”, She vented out her frustration at the passenger in that seat.

The passenger did not respond immediately, but eventually gathered courage and whispered, “But I am going to Delhi”.

“Is it not a Bangalore flight?”, the ground staff looked around and asked.

Everybody around shook their heads in negation. The ground staff spoke nothing. She simply turned around and stormed out of the flight at the same speed with which she had entered, amidst the snicker going around in the flight.

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