The Best Indian LCC for Obvious Reasons
Hello and Welcome to Trip Report 33!
Here's Part 3 of my India Series
Many have been asking and probably wondering why SpiceJet in my opinion was supposed to be India’s worst LCC
This review focuses on SG vs. it’s main competitor IndiGo
Having flown on both economy products offered by the two carriers, I decided to compare both for a better understanding of the Indian LCC market: How to do it right, and how to get it wrong
On to the Trip Report!
Travelling another 400Km's on the road back to Delhi was certainly not in my books, and we thereby tried to give Rajasthan's newest Airport which was also co-incidentally the closest Airport to the Ajmer Dargah (Shrine) a go
SpiceJet was the only airline operating out of Kishangarh/Ajmer Airport (KQH/VIKG) on their Bombardier Dash-8 Q400's, making good use of the UDAAN scheme and offering daily frequencies to and from Ahmadabad (AMD), Hyderabad (HYD) and Delhi (DEL), thereby saving us a few hours on road travel
Booked this sector via. Goibibo, a much recommended Indian Website for ticket and hotel reservations
The Process was unbelievably user-friendly with me being able to cash in on a discount as well and paid via. MasterCard which was the only foreign Card Accepted for the payment having tried a couple of cards form the VISA network which were all declined.
Managed to modify the booking and proceed to seat selection on the SpiceJet website
Lucky for us Kishangarh Airport was located just 26Km (45 minutes) away from Ajmer Dargah, which meant that leaving 2 1/2 hours prior to departure was good enough.
The Airport was one of the smallest I've been to, much smaller than Colombo-Ratmalana (RML) but still bigger than Trincomalee China Bay Airport (TRR) and was better maintained than most other airports in India, complete with a smoking room and a little cafe
However this was just the beginning of my horrible SpiceJet experience!
The first check upon entry was a passport check followed by baggage scanning prior to proceeding to the check-in counters for baggage drop.
Language was a major barrier here and for some reason I was tapped on the shoulder and called by one of SG's ground crew to have my baggage scanned for the second time even though it was already scanned and had a security seal in place as well
The check-in counter staff looked sleep deprived and were quite different compared to the SG check-in staff that I had encountered in the past. They seemed to find it difficult to check us in, maybe a perhaps a system glitch, which made us being the only passengers at the counter at that time to patiently wait a 15 minutes until the issue was rectified.
Their level of courteousness and customer service were below par when compared to IndiGo which had their staff positioned at the entrance of the airport in my last trip (TRZ) and guided and assisted passengers with checking-in through the Check-in kiosks at the airport before proceeding to baggage drop. Now that's efficiency and service at its best!
Not only did SG fail to have kiosks at the airport, they did not offer online check-in either.
Being the only airline operating out of KQH, they should've at least had a better process in place at the airport
However, SpiceJet did give us printed BP's which was something really Rare for an LCC to do nowadays which was probably the only positive part of my experience until now
Ajmer Shareef the Home of the Sufi World Famous Sufi Saint Hazarat Khwaja Moinudeen Chishti or most famously known as Khwaja Ghareeb e Nawaz who promulgated the famous Chishtiyya order of Sunni mysticism.
This particular Tariqa (order) became the dominant Muslim spiritual group in India and many of the most beloved and venerated Indian Sunni saints (Awliya) were Chishti in their affiliation, including Hazarat Nizamuddin Awliya and Hazarat Amir Khusrow
The Chishtiyya Tariqa is one of the 4 main Sufi Orders including the Qadiri, Suhrawardi and Naqshbandi orders which were established in the Sub-Continent
Kishangarh/Ajmer Airport attracts many Muslim/Sufi devotees who visit the Ajmer Dargah as well as Israeli Tourists who visit Pushkar, a town with a significantly large Jewish community
A Summary of today's routing:
Flight Number: SG2769
Equipment: Bombardier Dash-8 Q400
From: Kishangarh Airport (KQH/VIKG)
To : Delhi- Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL/VIDP)
VT-SQD: The Stretched Version of SpiceJet's Bombardier Dash-8 Q400
Our flight to Delhi !
SpiceJet's Bombardier Dash-8 Q400 my all time favorite Turboprop
Watch the entire FR here!
Boarding was called as soon as the incoming Q400's passengers disembarked, resulting in a quick turnaround flight for VT-SQD
A final check and all passengers were Invited to Board.
A feature of KQH was that they did not have boarding bus's due to the size of the airport which meant that Pax. had to take a walk to their awaiting aircraft, something I do prefer over jet-bridges
To add to the headache of the horrible check-in process, my SD card decided to malfunction and I was unable to recover the clip of the video taken while boarding
Boarding was rushed, the cabin crew failed to welcome passengers while boarding while ignoring most and continued to carry on a conversion between themselves.
This situation seemed very similar to a recent FR Published by Josh Cahill on his equally horrible experience flying with SpiceJet.
The crew seemed to have a severe attitude problem
The Boarding and Safety announcement was by far the worst I've heard to date!
The Announcement was rushed and the stewardess rattled on similar to reading off a script. Guess they managed to completely forget their one time slogan "With All Our Heart" and is probably another reason that has contributed to SG deteriorating service over the years
My expectation though was a hearty welcome similar to that of IndiGo and I did miss the usual " Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls - Welcome to IndiGo"
Just goes to show the levels of Customer Service on two very similar LCC's clearly justifying IndiGo's dominance over the Indian Aviation Industry. SpiceJet on the other hand look to capitalize more on their assets rather than focusing on a quality economy class product and service excellence. Sad!
Settled into Seat 3(A)
A positive was an On-time Departure
The Q400 was configured in the standard 2-2 Single Y Class layout and VT-SQD was as mentioned before the Stretched, High Dense Version of the Bombardier Dash-8 Q400 NextGen. seating 84-90 Pax with SG being their Launch Customer.
Seat pitch was a little narrower when compared to the regular Q400's in operation with each seat having 2 Inches reduced from its legroom making way for the additional seats
Even with the reduced seat-pitch, the Q400 seemed more spacious and far better in terms of comfort when compared to IndiGo's ATR72-600, However, the atmosphere on board IndiGo was a friendlier and comfortable environment where passengers were given the best in terms of service.
Buy-on-board service was poor since, as I overheard that they had bought just five additional Sandwiches for on-board purchase and had only focused on per-ordered meals.
Prices were on the cheaper side and SG did offer a more vibrant, cheaper menu compared to IndiGo but they managed to run out of food and beverages within a matter of minutes, with many passengers including myself having to wait until we reached Delhi to purchase something on arrival at the airport
Yet another blunder by SG!
As an LCC, they should look to boost their Ancillary Income, thus having in-flight meals available as most passengers would definitely make purchases at any given price. This is where AirAsia India and IndiGo get it right. Even if food isn't available, they'd definitely have an available stock beverages available for purchase
We began one of the most beautiful approaches experienced in India to date! The First on the list being Kochi (COK)
In my Opinion,I would definitely rank the Bombardier Dash-8 Q400 as undoubtedly the best Turboprop for regional service.
However sadly my only option on flying this marvelous piece of engineering would be to fly with SG again. Something that I'd rather not look forward to as I do prefer paying a higher fare for better more efficient customer service, or I may give them a second chance In the future
With the national carrier Air India being renowned for the title of the Worst Airline in India in Terms of Punctuality, Cleanliness and Courtesy, they would probably take the accolade of India's worst Full-Service carrier. However as I haven't flown on them I cannot say much about them.
Their LCC Air India Express though is a fairly decent LCC which I flew on over 10 years ago, However even with SpiceJet, a span of 5 goes to show how badly service levels have deteriorated even though now they come in 2nd as India's Largest Airline just behind IndiGo with the demise of Jet Airways and how such airlines tend to focus on all things apart from service excellence
Lets hope SG get their act together!
The Best Indian LCC for Obvious Reasons
I did have a high expectation on SG to deliver a competitive Y Class product just as they did on my previous flights (MAA-IXM-CMB) with them. However the did disappoint terms of service this time around!
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Comments are welcome!
That'd be all for now,See you in the next takeoff!