A ticket from Bangalore to Goa cost me a little over Rs 3,500, even though everyone warned me that airline prices were skyrocketing. I had a lovely flight on an IndiGo flight, sitting snugly between two capable Marwari gentlemen.
I noticed an empty row across the aisle and asked the hostess if I could move my appointment over there.
“Have you bought the add-on, sir?” She asked me.
“What is an add-on?” I asked.
“It’s a small extra amount you pay for something that isn’t in the basic package.”
“I would have thought there would have been a seat in the original package,” I said.
“Have a seat,” she said. “That seat, no. It’s by the window and not only is it a great view but also makes you think about your life, mortality and how far off the ground it is.
Most airlines have figured out that their future lies in add-ons—and who can blame them? COVID-19 crushed that industry and now they are doing everything they can to recoup their losses and make a little money for once. The concept of add-ons changed everything.
As I flew over the lush green rice fields, it crossed my mind that it was a time before India became an add-on economy. Everything would be broken down into basic packages and extras would be paid for, and everyone would be happy, with endless choices and options, pay per use and only what they want. No fat
In less than a year from now, even a simple IndiGo flight from Bengaluru to Goa could change in a way no one could have imagined.
It was a chilly morning in the Garden City of 2025 and I was packed and ready for my flight to Goa’s Mopa International Airport. I had prepared well this time. I had selected and paid for an add-on window seat, and had chosen add-on aloo paratha and coffee as an in-flight meal. I had bought add-on insurance and paid for add-on excess baggage. I was looking forward to a wonderful trip.
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I was greeted by two flight attendants. He had a beaming smile that went straight into his eyes, and he knew how to make every passenger feel special. When it was my turn to board, he checked a sheet of paper in his hand and gave me a blank, cold look. “Just keep going,” she said wryly.
I can tell you put a wrinkle in my day right there. The man behind me told me confidentially. “Don’t feel too bad about it. You probably forgot to say a warm welcome. The basic package makes sure you’re dropped off in an aisle and pointed in the right direction. Actual words are not included, and gestures add – are on.
After all passengers had boarded, the customary pre-flight announcement took place. It went like this – “Good-aft’noon, ladies’n’gentlemen, boysangilzone or Indigo alien, ‘smi pl’air to welcome aboard flier Goa Mopa International Airport. Please in front of the comparators or in the seat in front of you Items that hold shoes can be placed.”
She spoke without fullstops, commas or spaces, not even pausing to take a breath as she mows through the declamation at high speed with the desicutter, such was her dedication. No one understood a single thing.
I went up to her and said, “Miss, you speak too fast.” She stared at me, eyes blank, smile bright. “Could you possibly repeat that announcement?”
Then she said, “‘Don’t be afraid. That’s the basic package, sir. Maximum words in minimum time. To understand slow speaking needs to be pre-ordered as an add-on while booking tickets.
“In that case,” I said, at a loss for words, “why don’t you tell me where the toilet is?”
She moved to one side to reveal the foredeck toilet. I opened the door and immediately closed it again. “Umm, miss, looks like the cleaners forgot to deal with the human waste. It stinks.”
She giggled and laughed. “Oh, you are a strange one, sir,” she said. “That toilet is exactly as it should have been.”
By now, I knew the game. “I know,” I said. “It’s an add-on.”
“Ah no, sir. What you see is what you get. WYSIWYG.”
I went back to my seat. An hour passed. Then another. The air-conditioning, which was an add-on, was not turned on. Presently, as she passed me by I gave a beautiful miss call and asked, “Any idea when we can expect to take off?”
He gave me a look that was mixed regret and compassion. “Sir, your add-ons don’t seem to include departure. The package you’ve taken lets you board the plane and gives you a nice seat. I think we’ve successfully achieved that. As long as you You can sit here if you want, it is paid for.
my heart sank.
“The actual departure is an add-on. Sooner or later you’ll buy it, I know, and be on your way.
“Thank you,” I said gratefully. “now I understand.”
“And don’t forget to buy the add-on for landing in Goa, sir. Otherwise the pilot will circle the airport forever.”
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