That Indian celebrities lead charmed lives is a known fact, and when they are denied special privileges, especially when they go abroad, do they needlessly cry foul using the victim card?
Recently, Shilpa Shetty Kundra alleged that she faced an distasteful experience over her cabin baggage at Sydney airport for being “brown”. Upset by an official who was curt, she took to social media to say that people’s tone must not change with reference to colour.
In her post, Shilpa wrote: #Qantas airways @qantas This should get your attention! Travelling from Sydney to Melbourne and at the check-in counter met a grumpy #Mel ( that’s her name) who decided it was “OK” to speak curtly to “US”
(Brown people!!) WE are NOT #pushovers and they MUST know that being #callous and #Rude will NOT BE TOLERATED (sic).”
However, in the pictures that the actress shared on Instagram, the bag she wanted to take along actually looks oversized, leaving one to wonder if she was expecting ‘celebrity privilege’ outside India.
Actor Rishi Kapoor had also previously criticised British Airways alleging that the cabin crew misbehaved with him.
Earlier this year, we saw Rishi Kapoor slamming an airline for not being helpful to him during the journey. Many even cry foul every time Shah Rukh Khan is stopped at US airports for security checks. While it’s very easy to claim that anything denied to us is racism, we should start looking at the other side and follow prescribed etiquette too.
Suneeta Sodhi Kanga, who used to work for Air India as an air hostess and is an etiquette expert at present, feels that actors are used to VIP culture and hence, are a little spoilt. The staff at the Sydney airport clearly did not recognise Shilpa and was just doing their job. Suneeta shares, “In India, people let go of celebrities if they carry extra kilos, so perhaps the actress was expecting similar behaviour overseas.”
Explaining that rules and regulations are made by the airlines for passenger safety, she adds, “It clearly doesn’t have anything to do with the ‘brown girl’. It’s just that most of the celebrities are used to VIP culture and that causes a lot of problems.”
Rachelle Cook, an air hostess with Qatar Airlines feels that there are instances where people do face these kinds of issues based on their skin colour.
However, in Shilpa’s case, Rachelle thinks that the airlines did their job right. “I think she just made a big deal of the entire situation as she’s a celebrity. We face these situations on a daily basis. Except for a few cases however, everyone else is largely understanding,” says Rachelle, adding that these are very tricky situations to handle. “You have to be very polite and calm as you explain the reason. Maybe it could have been done in a better way, but I will not blame the airlines in this instance,” she adds.
Aditi Govitrikar, an Indian model and actress shares that all airlines have to follow certain rules. She believes Shilpa took the employee’s words as a personal affront. “What happened with her in Big Brother must have been on her mind, that’s why she reacted in this fashion.”
Farzana Makhija, an air hostess with Air India firmly believes that there are two sides to this incident. “I am an Indian, but I am sorry to say that most of the time, it is Indians who misbehave and misuse property. Our chalta hai attitude may work in our country but it’s not accepted in other countries,” she shares.
Some things are a complete no-no for people when travelling abroad, whether you are a celebrity or not. Most Indians also carry a lot of stuff with them when they travel. And they hate paying for excess baggage! They argue at the counter; their hand luggage too is over sized. But when an Indigo Airlines or any other Indian airline tells us so, we can’t use the racism card! It’s only when aborad. Says Farzana. “It’s not the employee’s fault as he/she is trained to tackle the situation. Everyone needs to understand that we cannot expand the space in the airplane. These are rules that are meant to be followed,” she adds.
Meanwhile, actress Adah Sharma feels that there are racist people everywhere, including India. “Many a time, people feel like they have a lot of power to put someone else down. Shilpa must have perceived it that way by the manner in which the airline staff spoke to her,” she concludes.