Update – Feb.8, 2012: How did Mallya Senior react to this? Take a look at his tweet.

One could argue that he had the complete sentiment right in front of him since his tweet is posted late in the evening of a day when a LOT of people and media outlets were talking about the story. But yes, he does the right thing – in words and in spirit.

Original post:

Last evening, around 8pm, actor Ayesha Takia sent a series of distressed tweets. It all seemed incoherent and in Shahid Kapoor-style language, but the crux seemed to be this: Ayesha’s sister, Natasha Takia, was at the Kingfisher Airlines counter at New Delhi airport when a Kingfisher staff named Vinay Podwal tore up her boarding pass and misbehaved with her.

Yes, that does sound incredulous, but if you can decipher what happened from these tweets, please go ahead.

The worst airline,kingfisher!!!shockingly baddddddddddd airport staff behavior at delhi airport with my sister. (Link)

This disgustingly behaved kingfisher staff called Vinay podwal just tore my sisters boarding pass n misbehaved with her!!!! (Link)

Can’t believe thisssss!!!I’m in mumbai n I wish I was there rite now 2!soooo angry!! (Link)

#WorstAirlineEver…kingfisher! (Link)

How can this happen!!!how dare this vinay podwal misbehave with a passenger and tare her boarding pass,it cud b any one of u!!think about it (Link)

I will tweet and tell ul the whole story in a bit,2 angry n upset rite now!this just happend!!I wanted u alllllll 2 no! (Link)

My heart is beating so fast with anger that a girl at an airport gets treated this way by airport staff!he is at the kingfisher counter. (Link)

She is unwell and has a horrible backache,can’t believe this happend 2 her rite now!!!!!!!!!!!! (Link)

Is this how a girl alone at an airport gets treated by the staff of the airline she is flying?!?!?!? (Link)

Vinay podwal at delhi airport,kingfisher staff just threatend and yelled at my sister saying he can throw any1 out n TORE her boarding pass! (Link)

She is unwell n tired n hurt from being mistreated n threatend..I’m shocked! (Link)

We r goin 2 take serious action against this and go 2 court with it,let the law handle it,so that this dosent happen 2 any girl again! (Link)

Thankfully, Ayesha’s father tweeted a few meaningful and useful things to clear it all up. It looks like Natasha was booked on Kingfisher to fly from Kathmandu to Mumbai, via New Delhi. Kingfisher had seemingly cancelled their flight and put her on an Air India flight to New Delhi. That flight landed late in New Delhi and Natasha missed her connecting Kingfisher flight to Mumbai.

Natasha was booked in KF from Kathmandu to Mumbai. KF cancelled their flt and gave a bkg in AI. Not her fault AI was delayed. (Link)

If I was in her position, I would have been mighty annoyed too, but I do understand that these things are quite beyond anybody’s control. What seems to have got their goat is the fact that Kingfisher put her on an AI flight that eventually arrived late. And Kingfisher asked Natasha to wait since the flight for Mumbai at that time was running full.

Now, Airlines are in the hospitality business and they need to deal with people with tact and grace. It’s hard to believe that someone from Kingfisher tore up a passenger’s boarding card, having flown in Kingfisher a lot myself – this is not an Indra Kumar film, you know.

But these are completely beside the point.

The point is about Sidhartha Mallya. And this is his response to this imbroglio.

Been getting retweets about Ayesha Takia & KFA. not too sure who she is, an actor of some sorts?? But it seems something has upset her!! (Link)

Don’t know why Ayesha Takia is tweeting so much when she wasn’t even present. There are always two sides to a story. Pipe down love (Link)

He does seem to have a solid fan following with both these tweets getting 50+ RTs! But, take one look at the replies too!

For example,

hey Business BOY act like a man, you sound like a fat pompous jack ass sitting on his daddys coat tails (Link)

I do agree that Ayesha Takia is not that big an actor, but I’m sure Sidhartha knows who she is. Forget that she is an actor – she is first a customer, like any one of us. Her sister is a customer, like any of us. And the Mallya scion tweeting sarcastically is seriously uncharacteristic of the kind of service we otherwise receive from Kingfisher.

Even as he tweets that there are 2 sides of the story, I’m wondering if he can’t get the other side of the story from his staff, who can?

Most importantly, like I mentioned in my post yesterday, these tweets were not addressed to Sidhartha at all. In fact, they are not even addressed to Kingfisher – they are a series of generic rants intended at Ayesha Takia’s followers, to drum up support. But, Sidhartha notices a lot of tweets and RTs about it and jumps into the conversation quite unnecessarily and without facts. Worse, he talks about Ayesha Takia, without mentioning her, to his followers.

Before tweeting his half-baked perspective (or the complete lack of it), the only thing he needed to have done is check the sentiment around Ayesha’s tweets. A back of the envelope calculation shows that her tweets around this topic has around 250+ retweets and add that to the fact that she has 150,000+ followers.

Yes, of course, Mallya junior has 190,000+ followers too, but that is all the more reason why he needs to show grace and either tweet facts to counter Ayesha’s claims or keep his mouth shut. Merely adding to the pool with a sarcastic, pointless placeholder will only damage the reputation of Kingfisher airlines further…his personal reputation is a different story and is not relevant here.

Ayesha seems to have seen his tweets and goes on,

Well any indian citizen can stand up for their rites if treated badly,and I don’t have to be anyone u know sidharth mallya!!!!!!!!!!!! (Link)

u wernt there either so don’t b condescending and defend ur freakin staff,first find out wot happend!u clearly r unaware of ALOT sidharth m! (Link)

My sis is a normal indian girl traveling economy so ofcourse u won’t giv a shit,I know the whole story coz it happend 2 my sister therefore (Link)

I will rant siddharth mallaya,,wot will u DO!!!!!this Is ur way of dealing with a hospitality buiseness!!!wow!!learn manners n respect!!! (Link)

Interestingly, there are many people who tweet about bad service and delays from Kingfisher, but only Ayesha Takia’s tweets got Junior Mallya’s attention. Why? Simple – the seeming clout of a 150K+ follower Twitter account. But doesn’t that mean Sidhartha needs to be extra careful before saying anything on the matter, in public, considering he’s dealing with not just his own 190K+ followers, but also the hyper-interested 150K+ followers of Ayesha Takia?

The other question – is this how Kingfisher’s official Twitter account would have handled this? Of course not! Take a look at their tweets (see it from bottom to top) – a mix of facts and generous apology due to the inconvenience caused, as it should be.

It looks like Junior Mallya could go through the customer service training that his airlines offers to its employees.



19 thoughts on “Ayesha Takia Vs. Sidhartha Mallya and a lesson in PR on Twitter

  1. I agree. By far the worst Airline. Isn’t it obvious? Look at how customer friendly the so called owner himself is. It all starts there! They are better off appreciating horses at the derby.

  2. My takeaway: Ayesha Takia can’t spell. Otherwise this says nothing. It’s a pointless, vacuous twitter war between two empty-headed celebrities.

      1. Reputation of the airline is already tarnished by now, there is nothing really to retrieve. And we all know (with the possible exception of you) that pricing comes first, convenience next, and customer service follows and brand is really a minor factor (damn, where I have I stored that link?!). So net? The customer who is looking up cleartrip/ makemytrip/ yatra is NOT REALLY WORRIED ABOUT what Siddharth Mallya says to Ayesha Takia.

        Except, of course, some celebrity besotted people who might… “hmm. No, I’m paying 2k more and flying Jet. No way I’m flying KFA. Arre, that Sidd Mallya is such a bhenchod. You know what he tweeted to that poor girl…”

        Enjoy dude 🙂

        1.  I’m not sure if you can remove reputation out of the equation. Yes, price does play a huge role, but consider IndiGo’s reputation as an on-time airlines – they are not on-time *all* the time, but they make it up somehow in terms of precise service and the fact that many people really believe they are on-time, most of the time. That translates into tweets too, from people who fly. If Sid had tweeted something seemingly helpful and with some grace, I’m sure it’d prop up to their falling reputation as something they still hold on to, despite everything crumbling around them.

  3. Well written. Amazing how corporate’s now have a weak spot. Ayesha talks & Siddharth notices, stupid that Ayesha spoke crap but i guess its an opportunity kind of missed.

  4. I have been a loyal KFA customer.
    Tell you honestly, service is not the same as it was couple of years back.
    The treatment is far inferior these days compare to Jet or even Indigo.
    KFA – you guys need a crash course in hospitality all over again.

  5. This is becoming an all too familiar thing on twitter now with celebs drumming up support on irreverent issues. Followed another rant session between two really senior journalists, where things got really personal. Disgusting to see the fourth estate slug it out like a junior college canteen fight.

  6. I’ve flown with KFA mutiple times but it was a flight that I took from Delhi that made me realize that the “five star experience” the Sr. Mallya goes on about on the in-flight entertainment system is nowhere close to the real treatment meted out to economy-class passengers.

    Among the many things that happened on my flight, I would list my experiences with the few services that KFA takes pride in:
    1. The flight was delayed by a good 35-40 minutes in Delhi itself (for no apparent reason). Neither
    did the flight make up for the lost time nor did an apology come from
    the captain. I am probably spoiled by the ‘so-so’ courteous behavior of
    the low cost carriers who tend to apologize (and multiple times) for such inadvertent delays
    and inconveniences.

    2. The food served on board was no where close to ‘five star’ standards.
    was cold and didn’t taste right. I was also not sure if it was a
    measure taken to reduce unnecessary weight on board the aircraft that
    essential cutlery items had been removed or maybe, simply put, it’s
    plain fun to see people devour chicken with a third grade plastic fork.

    3. The shoulder-belt on my checked in luggage was no where to be seen when I picked it up from the baggage belt at the
    arrival terminal at Bangalore airport. The uncourteous staff at KF baggage issues
    counter at the airport terminal, on my insistence, retrieved whatever
    was left of that belt. After seeing the state of the belt, I wondered
    aloud, ‘How would I carry a 13 or so kg bag without any belt to sling
    over my shoulder?’. At this juncture, I was SHOWN a list of ‘acceptable
    damages’ that my luggage could go through in transit. Probably, I was
    expecting a bit too much if I thought they would arrange for a temporary
    string or something that I could treat as a belt and go home happier. Maybe, not all
    ‘five-star’ experiences involve pleasing customers.

    I’m sorry beastoftraal for I’ve mumbled so much that this comment seems like a blog post in itself.

    That said, it was highly ungracious of Sid Mallya to say the things he said about a customer. Could he be down too many KF lites? For you know, he also bought Vinay Kumar for an insane amount. I digress.
    There’s no denying the fact that she could have spelled better but isn’t that a trait of all things Bollywood. The spellings should have given away that she’s an actor – he didn’t need to be sarcastic.

    I seriously think KFA’s days are numbered.

  7. Helloayesh…. If it was AI or any foreign airline would u have even thought of tweeting, goof ups do happen suck it up or use proper medium for complaints rather than tweeting..

    1. If she is a paying customer why should she “suck it up”?  No one is doing her a favour by giving her a flight ticket. 
      And what makes you think tweeting is not the “proper medium” – KFA has a twitter ID for EXACTLY this purpose. Why would she not have thought of tweeting about AI or a foreign airline? Foreign airlines also have customer service guys manning their twitter IDs. How much of an ignoramus are you? Ever heard the saying “its better to shut up and have people think you’re a dumbass, than to speak up and remove all doubt”?

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