Travel: Passage from India

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The Independent Travel
AIRLINES spend millions of pounds trying to persuade us how wonderful they are. So it is amazing how they can infuriate travellers when things go wrong. Judging by our postbag, British Airways' operations in India are a source of particular aggravation. Jonathan Hill of Sheffield writes six agonising pages about BA's inability to get him and a jumbo-load of fellow passengers from Bombay to London Heathrow.

Low points of the 35-hour ordeal included four hours sitting on board a broken-down 747 in the middle of the night, 17 hours in a hotel where the only liquid refreshment was mineral water at 60p a bottle, and an unscheduled diversion to Delhi when Air India eventually stepped in to fly the forlorn travellers home.

'It was particularly galling,' says Mr Hill, 'to see the following day's BA flight leave on time to London while we languished in India.'

BA offered pounds 50 compensation for the huge inconvenience - but only after Mr Hill wrote to complain. However, the episode did provide him with the chance to sample another carrier: 'Air India offered a very efficient service,' he concludes. 'I will fly them in preference to BA in the future.'

The 'World's Favourite Airline' also failed to impress Mr D Johnson of Norwich, who has recently returned from a trip to Auckland with his wife. She is unable to bend her right leg at the knee, and priority seating is consequently essential. Mr Johnson requested this a couple of months in advance, but found the seats allocated totally unsuitable. 'If no one had agreed to swap,' he writes, 'my wife just could not have sat down.'