A week after four domestic airlines imposed a flying ban on stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra for heckling journalist Arnab Goswami on an IndiGo flight, his namesake from the city of Boston in the United States was erroneously blacklisted by Air India on a domestic route, India Today reported on Wednesday.
On February 3, when the man – who is in India at present to visit his family – tried to check-in for his flight from Jaipur to Mumbai, he was informed that his passenger name record, or PNR, had been cancelled. “...when I asked them why, they said that my name had been blacklisted,” said Kunal Kamra. “I could understand why, but I did not understand why particularly I was blacklisted. I knew why the other Kunal Kamra was blacklisted.”
The Boston resident said the airline’s ground crew helped him sort out the error, but added that the experience was “very unpleasant” as he had to prove that he was not the comedian. Kamra was finally issued a new ticket after he presented two different identity cards.
“Basically, the only reason they cancelled my ticket is because my name is the exact same as that of another person,” he told India Today. “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.” No prior information of cancellation or a proper explanation was conveyed, he added. Kamra said the airline accepted his copy of the Aadhaar but the security personnel at the Jaipur airport were convinced only after he provided an American identity card.
The comedian, meanwhile. shared the report and tweeted: “Collateral damage.”
Air India spokesperson Dhananjay Kumar said the Boston resident’s name was “automatically rejected” as the comedian was banned from flying with the airline. “But after verification of all the credentials of the passenger, we allowed him to board the flight,” he added.
Budget carrier IndiGo had banned Kamra, the comedian, on January 28, after which three other airlines – Air India, SpiceJet and GoAir – also banned him from flying “until further notice”. The move came after Minister of Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri told all carriers to take action against Kamra.
On Saturday, the comedian sent a legal notice to IndiGo, asking it to revoke his suspension immediately. He sought an unconditional apology from the airline through all media platforms, and Rs 25-lakh compensation. Kamra also asked IndiGo to take action against the officials who had imposed the ban on him.