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Saturday, December 1, 2018

Nylon Kayiru, Train travel - air travel .. .. every seat selection to be charged


Sujatha’s   ‘Nylon Kayiru’ was published in Kumudam for 14 weeks ~  when it was published years later, Sujatha wrote that he felt like changing some .. .. but eventually did not – it still appeals in the same manner – and when I read this newsitem recently, immediately my thoughts rushed back to the novel.

A travel by train is always worthy of savouring. A journey is worth its length. The yester generations cherished travel by talking a lot  during the journey with their co-travellers and gained many experience – modern day youth would get closed with their mobile phone and earpiece getting engrossed.  Though the first thing that attracted was ‘window seat’ – the most popular advice perhaps those days (4 decades ago)  was not to sit near the window and look out when the train chugged out of station – for those days, engines were powered by coal and fine coal dust would be in the air and could fall in eyes.As you traverse along, you look outside to see a bowler starting his run up; your neck would turn and remain glued till the small ground goes out of sight – you might never know what happened to that ball – the sight of trees running past in the opposite direction as the train moves is indeed a great sight. In those days, whenever the train stopped at any station, people would hurriedly get down to fill up their containers with water from taps on the platform.

The longest rail journey in the world starts in Moscow and ends in Vladivostok. The train crosses several time zones and in addition to the endless birch trees of Siberia the scenery includes the Ural mountains and Lake Baikal, the largest freshwater lake in the world. From China,  a freight train was launched  to London traversing  over 12,000 kilometres across 18 days.  The train departing from Yiwu, a city that thrives on commodity trade, in central Zhejiang province winds through  Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France to arrive in London.

Air travel is becoming common – yet I look forward to a window seat – this has to be booked in advance, now-a-days, some Airlines charge for the legspace, seats in front, window seats, aisle seat and .. ..   the seat selection is done through a map.  An aircraft seat map or seating chart, is a diagram of the seat layout inside a passenger airliner. Seat maps usually indicate the basic seating layout, the numbering and lettering of the seats, the location of the emergency exits, lavatories, galleys, bulkheads and wings. Airlines which allow internet check-in frequently present a seat map indicating free and occupied seats to the passenger so that they select their seat from it.  Occasionally, aircraft with a seating structure of 2+2 may letter the seats as "ACDF" to keep with the standard of A/F being window and C/D being aisle on short-haul aircraft (which generally have 3+3 seats).

Now read this newsitem in Times of India, Chennai edition - IndiGo on Sunday said it will charge “for all seats from passengers doing web check-in.”According to the low cost carrier (LCC)’s website, seat selection charges on IndiGo domestic flights are 600 for any seat in row 1, 12 and 13; 300 for any seat in rows 2 to 10; and 200 for any seat in row 11 and the window and aisle seats from row 14 to 20.

The seats with no selection fees are middle ones in row 14 to 20 and all seats in row 21 to 30. People choosing these seats at web check-in till now were not required to pay any fees. Something which has now been discontinued for web check-in, making it a paid service.With IndiGo having 43% market share in domestic skies, other airlines are likely to follow suit.

‘Change in pricing based on consumer preferences’ - The airline in message to passengers said: “As per our revised policy, all seats will be chargeable for web check-in. Alternatively, you may check-in at the airport for free. Seats will be assigned as per the availability.”An IndiGo spokesperson said: “Based on consumer preferences, we have made some changes in pricing for advance selection of seats. While different prices for different category of seats were always there, we have further refined the price categories based on the consumer preferences observed. This is a usual practice followed by most airlines globally and in India. We are continuously evaluating consumer preferences and making pricing adjustments as per consumer demand.” With IndiGo having 43% market share in domestic skies, other airlines are likely to follow suit.

Ghaziabad-based Raghav Saxena said airlines are constantly looking at new revenue streams which force people to cough up more under different heads. “I take budget flights very often and try to save money by pre-booking meals at a cheaper rate. But to do that, one first needs to pre-book a seat for a fee. Only then can one prebook meals. Which means to save money by booking meals at a slightly lower rate, one needs to pre-book seats for a fee!” Saxena rued.

Now the reference to Sujatha’s Nylon Kayiru is .. ..  a recent news said that Air India is all set to close it’s iconic city booking office in Egmore.  This has been functional for more than 6 decades and represented a luxury window for those who could afford flight – slowly priorities have changed, air-travel is no longer a luxury and tickets could be easily booked through Agents / e-Agents and Online.  It is stated that the booking at this Office have fallen to 100 per day, that too mostly Govt employees, booking for the purpose of availing leave travel concession.  Air India is trying to reduce the rent cost and perhaps the no. of employees too !

In solving the mystery in ‘Nylon Kayiru’ occurring in the backdrop of Bombay – the savvy Ganesh would reconstruct the incident in mind – and the clue eventually would be ‘the accused booking tickets and walking out of Indian Airlines  Office in Bombay  – and the distance / travelling time between that place and the place of crime .. ..

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
26th Nov. 2018

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