Air India cancelled the ticket of US-based Kunal Kamra because of his name. He had to go through a long ordeal trying to prove that he was not the stand-up comedian
New Delhi: Kunal Kamra is not a name any Indian on social media will not know today. The stand-up comedian has been banned by four airlines when we last counted, and has had a difficult time this past week trying to prove that he was merely 'questioning' and not 'heckling' a TV anchor.
But Kunal is hardly the only Kamra in the world.
Have you thought what this ban is doing to the other Kunal Kamras around?
This Kunal Kamra, who is a resident of Boston and is currently in India visiting his family, had to go through a long ordeal at the Jaipur airport, all because of his name. IndiaToday.in spoke to him about the incident.
On the afternoon of February 3, 2020, Kunal had a flight from Jaipur to Mumbai with Air India. Air India, by the way, is one of the airlines that have banned his more famous namesake. The other carriers are IndiGo (onboard a flight of which the incident took place), SpiceJet and GoAir.
As this Kunal reached the check-in counter, he was told that his PNR had been cancelled. He said, "I was told that my PNR was cancelled and when I asked them why, they said that my name had been blacklisted. I could understand why, but I did not understand why particularly I was blacklisted. I knew why the other Kunal Kamra was blacklisted."
He added that the ground crew of Air India was very helpful but it was an unpleasant experience. He said, "The Air India people were very helpful, luckily, I had ample time before the flight, so everything was sorted out. They were able to issue me another ticket but what was most annoying for me was that the burden of proof was on me. So I had to prove that I am not this person."
He added, "I was not informed before my flight that my ticket was cancelled. I never received a proper explanation as to why MY ticket was cancelled. Basically, the only reason they cancelled my ticket is because my name is the exact same as that of another person. The problem with that is that if you were to cancel my ticket just based on my name, that is not acceptable because a lot of people might have the same name."
It took two different ID-cards for Kunal to prove that he was a different person. He said, "The whole scenario was really confusing because first, the Jaipur airport security had to clear me, then Air India had to clear me and I needed clearance from both these parties to get on the flight. The airline took a copy of my Aadhar card and it was enough for them, but the security wasn't convinced with all my Indian IDs so I had to show them my American ID, which finally worked. It was just a very unpleasant experience."
Dhananjay Kumar, spokesperson, Air India, said, "Comedian Kunal Kamra is banned from boarding Air India. It's mentioned in our system, that's why his name was automatically rejected. But after verification of all the credentials of the passenger, we allowed him to board the flight."
Comedian Kunal Kamra also reacted to the experience of his namesake and called it "Collateral damage."
Before we spoke to him, Kunal was on his way to the Mumbai airport, getting ready to take an IndiGo flight to Delhi. But by now, Kunal had realised what his name was capable of doing to Indian airports. So he spoke to IndiGo beforehand and ensured that his ticket was still confirmed.
(This story first appeared on India Today)