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

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 things 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 receive from Kingfisher otherwise.

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

Reproduced from original post at Beastoftraal.com


Karthik is a communications specialist with over 14 years of experience in creating, building and managing perceptions of brands across client and agency environments. Karthik blogs on social media and PR at http://www.beastoftraal.com and on music at http://www.milliblog.com .