Between my wife and I, we have had to travel a lot by Air Deccan recently. The most recent being last Sunday.
There are two reasons for this, and both customer-friendly ones:
1.) Best prices (all the hyped competition notwithstanding)
2.) Easy internet booking
However, where they falter in customer-friendliness is in their communication strategy with passengers. That too not due to a lack of effort, but their going overboard with it!
Sample this (and this works like a template, with just the variables of time and flight changing): If the flight is at 6:05 PM, they send you an SMS during the day, saying the flight has been rescheduled for 5:45 PM. Even though it seems like adequate notice, there could be passengers who have compulsions on their time, and cannot advance their schedules. And I have been receiving 3 such messages per flight, followed by a call from their Bangalore call centre.
But fear not! Air Deccan does exactly what Emirates airlines does in its ‘last and final boarding call’ announcements — put the fear of missing-a-flight-God into passengers’ minds! At best, the flights leave on their original scheduled time, if not later.
Talking of low costs, Air Deccan explains in detail in its in-flight magazine — ‘Simplifly’ (nice pun) — how it manages to bring the costs down.
Cut operating costs
- Landing fees being lesser for smaller aircrafts
- Reduce turnaround time from 55 minutes for most other airlines to 20-40 minutes for Air Deccan
- Lower in-flight costs (snacks, coffee, soft drinks, juices, meal)
Cut administrative costs
- No swank offices, fancy airport lounges, frequent flyer clubs, reduced cabin crew, “pretty lasses hired only to smile” (Now contrast this with “flying models” that Kingfisher asks for in its job ads!)
Cut distribution costs
- Ticketing done through the Internet, so fewer ticketing offices, fewer salaries, fewer bills
- Passengers take their own print-outs instead of 6 page printed tickets (“full of information you’re never going to read”)
- Online payments reduce payment options like GDS
Cut fare classes and complicated accounting procedures
- Leaner accounting and auditing procedures
- Air Deccan Airbuses seat 180 passengers against 150 on other airlines
Cut unused space on aircrafts
- “Every space not occupied by a passenger has been thrown open to interested advertisers” (Well if you can have brand placements in films, why not in aircrafts?)
And then tongue-in-cheek they say “…you know enough to start your own low cost airline…” (Sure, with Captain Gopinath being the investor, eh?)
Otherwise continue reading for something more interesting…
Air Deccan has introduced a scheme called ‘Simplibid‘, where passengers get to bid for certain goods at prices lower than their retail prices.
This is something that Sahara Airlines had introduced in its better days under the mandate of Sahara’s ‘social activities’ — as the proceeds of the bids were given to charity, we were told. Apparently that had also won some in-flight innovation award.
I had once got a wonderful deal in one such bid. A three-year subscription to Indian Auto magazine at a bid price of Rs. 60, when the starting bid price was Rs. 50! Actually it was a combination of fewer passengers and some tactical bidding (bid in a category where you expect least people would be interested) that saw me get that.
However I found it a little ironical that Air Deccan should have a scheme like this. For in an airline for the cost-conscious — such a bid programme assumes passengers would have a certain on-the-spot disposable income. Isn’t that a contradiction of sorts?
So among various categories available, I bid Rs. 920 for a 512MB pen-drive (starting bid Rs. 890), Rs. 1510 for Reebok shoes (starting bid Rs. 1490), Rs. 1610 for a Swatch watch (starting bid Rs. 1590).
And guess what — I won all!
Was I the richest guy in the flight?!!
Sadly, what I finally took was limited by the Rs. 2500 I had in my pocket :(
Tell me what catches your eye first when you see this: simplibid offer
simpli bid offer
simp libido ffer
I kept on seeing the latter!