Apparently taking the Ravindra Gaikwad fiasco to heart, Air India has decided to offer business-class seats in its all-economy aircraft.
Shiv Sena MP in March because it did not have business-class seats, to which he as an MP is entitled. The incident had generated considerable controversy.
Going forward, the first three rows of economy aircraft will be makeshift business class seats. The middle seat would remain vacant, and the economy rows would be separated using curtains. The result will be that every aircraft of Air India will have business class seats.
In April, Air India irked another MP from Odisha by denying him business class ticket. Arjun Charan Sethi, MP of Biju Janata Dal (BJD) from Bhadrak, said he was told by the airline staff that he could not travel business class as the plane had only economy class seats.
Of the 150 aircraft Air India has, about a dozen have only economy class seats. However, the airline takes booking for business class passengers on routes that these aircraft ply.
“We usually inform passengers if the all economy class aircraft is plying and the passenger has booked a business class seat. But this was leading to confusion and often passengers were getting to know about it after reaching the airport,” an official said.
“Both Gaikwad and Sethi had booked the business class ticket but on the day of travel, we were flying aircraft with no business class seat. We have made alternate arrangements to end this confusion,” the Air India official added.
“We will do the partition using curtains. The middle seat will be left vacant and instead of three passengers in a row, we will have two passengers. This way instead of 18 economy class seats, we will have 12 business class seats in these aircraft. The meal will be of business class. This way, we will be able to provide business class service to the passengers who have booked it,” the official said.
There will be no change in the structure of the seat or the layout.
Usually, members of Parliament book business class ticket and since they use open tickets, the date of travel is decided almost at the last moment, resulting in embarrassing situations.