An Air India check-in officer has misbehaved with actress Kriti Kharbanda (Teen Maar fame) regarding a baggage issue. She complains that the officer was very rude to her and behaved in an objectionable manner. She alleges even the Airlines Authorities weren't helpful when she tried to lodge a complaint against the officer.
Explaining the sequence of incidents happened in Bangalore airport on that particular date, Kriti wrote an open letter to Air India highliting the ill-treatment meted out to the passengers. This is already creating a sensation because Kriti is currently the top heroine in Kannada film industry and she was even voted as Most Desirable Woman 2013.
Kriti Kharbanda's Letter to Air India:
An open letter to Air India
I was involved in an incident at the Bengaluru airport recently that shook me up. I waited to make sure I wasn’t over-reacting. After much time and consideration however, I knew I needed to write this.
Firstly, I'd like to make it clear that this isn't about me being an actor, or a slightly known person. I speak as a common citizen and as a woman -- as every woman.
On the 16th of August, I was booked on an Air India flight from Bengaluru to Hyderabad. I took that same flight for the 2nd time that week.
I reached the airport well in time, walked over to the check in counter, greeted the officer, and weighed my luggage in at 18.3 kgs. Blank as a brick to my greeting -- which I politely ignored -- the check in officer curtly told me that I was 3 kgs over limit and that I was to pay extra. The same flight two days ago allowed me a limit of 20 kgs. When I questioned why that was so, he responded rudely and aggressively saying, "Do din pehle ka patha nahi Madam, aaj 15kg allowed hain. 3 kg ka dena hai tho do, ya jaayo idhar se!"
Taken aback and unsure of how to react, one thing I was sure of -- I had every right to ask why I was being charged extra, and that he had no right to get aggressive with a passenger. I asked him the same, but he continued his hostility at me. Everyone around stared in shock at his unnecessarily rude behaviour.
I insisted for the Duty Manager to be informed as I wanted this resolved. I hoped officer's aggression would fade once the manager arrived. Unfortunately, my plea had fallen on deaf ears and the manager was not even summoned. Instead, the officer continued, "Aapko manager se baat karna hain tho aap udhar jaao. Main kyun bulaaoon usse?! Yeh mera kaam nahin hai!"
Helpless and upset, I asked for my ticket and receipt for the additional baggage as I decided to go find the Duty Manager myself. He instead refused, rudely pushed aside my ticket and shouted, as I still remember clearly, “Nahin dethu ticket. Jo kar sakti hain, karle. Complaint karne ka hai na…? Jaa kar!"
It was unexpected, and it petrified me for a second. I recuperated and politely asked for an apology for his behavior. I wasn't going to stand to be treated this way -- no passenger should. Instead, this man just laughed. From his demeanor, he obviously did not think that he was in the wrong, and hence did not apologize for anything.
I took my ticket and went to the manager's cabin myself, only to find an empty desk. I was told that the Duty Managers were in between shifts. Another employee came to my assistance and inquired what had happened. After filling him in with all the details, his response wasn't too helpful. "Madam, are you sure? It's not possible for him to behave that way," he told me. Obviously I was disappointed that he didn't believe me. A kind gentleman who had been around for this whole episode stood behind me and supported my story word by word. Fortunately, I had somebody on my side. This gentleman was of the opinion that if he were in my place, he would have “broken the check in officer's face!"
I was redirected to another Supervising Officer to whom I explained my baggage situation. He wasn't sure of the reason at first, but eventually found the root cause of the problem. It was revealed that the ticket that I had booked for the earlier same flight was bought at full-fare and the ticket for the current flight had been booked at a discounted one, hence the difference in the permitted baggage limit. Fair enough, I agreed and paid up. But I should've been politely informed of this instead of being subjected to unwarranted aggression from the check in officer. Another fellow passenger suggested that I file an official complaint. Maybe I would, I thought.
After I complained to the Supervising Officer about the check in officer's behaviour, he indifferently told me that he couldn't interfere in something he didn't witness directly.
Meanwhile the Duty Manager was back on duty, and duly apologised after hearing my side of the story. I wasn't sure if I was going to officially take up a complaint but I requested if I could take a picture of the concerned check in officer and get a copy of his ID card, to which the Duty Manager agreed. Shockingly, the concerned check in officer -- who continued delivering sharp, pseudo-scary stares at me from time to time -- rested back in his chair and irreverently and sarcastically dismissed me saying, “Kya madam, phone number aur address nahin chahiye kya?” At this point, I couldn't deal with his behaviour anymore. The Duty Manager said nothing in response while another Airline employee sarcastically told the check in officer, “Arre chod na… Kiske pass itna time hai. Do ghante main bhool jaayegi!”
Well... I didn't forget! I had to walk away from that situation then, but I still remember everything as clear as day. After much thought on all that happened at the Bengaluru Airport that day, I've decided to write an open letter to Air India. The consequences of whatever we do and say don't simply go away. I am not always in the right, I'll be the first to admit, but on that day, I surely and certainly was. I sincerely feel that the indifferent, hostile, and unprofessional behavior of those certain Air India employees -- particularly the check in officer -- must be brought to notice. And thanks to the folks who did try to help.