Air Travel

I have made five international trips this year – with one more to come in November. I have visited USA twice, Spain (Barcelona), Thailand (Bangkok and Phuket) and Singapore. Except Singapore, all the rest were on business. This is more international travel than I have ever done before in a single year!

On my most recent trip, I managed to encash my Delta frequent flyer mileage accumulated over the past decade for a free round-trip business class ticket to the US (New York). I have attempted to do this at various times in the past, but one never actually manages to get a confirmed ticket on the desired dates of travel. For me, the going leg was confirmed while the return leg was waitlisted (with a confirmed seat available 3 days later than the date I wanted to return).

Till 48 hours prior to departure, Delta refused to confirm the return leg. And this was not because they didn’t have seats, but because there were no additional seats available ‘in my class of travel’ which is the reason always given. I am sure that was true, but with empty seats surely they could have given me the confirmation. But No. So, asked for Air France, which is a partner of Delta – and lo and behold! I had my confirmed business class seat — it cost me $125 in additional charges, but that was small change. So, any wonder that airlines aren’t doing well — Delta could have gone me a seat on their own flight, but would now have paid Air France for flying me from NY to Mumbai.

Anyways, so much for that rant. In praise of Delta, I must say that they have the best business class seats that I have travelled on (Air India, Air France are the others I have flown). Delta uses a fishbone design which looks a little weird when you first see it, but once you want to sleep, you realise it has the most space – both in length and breadth. Quite an innovative architecture. Probably much more expensive since they can fit fewer seats, but definitely more customer-friendly.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.