A Tea-time Story: on Television TRPs, Airline services and Media trials.

A Tea time Story😄…

This latest trending scam on fudging television TRPs, reminded me of an incident from my early working life, and enables me to have better clarity on what might possibly be happening…

In the year 1999, I used to be a service quality auditor for a reputed airline. My job entailed monitoring all of the services of the airline pan India, and reporting to the service quality and training head, at the head office in Mumbai.

It was about 9.45 pm of a regular work day, when I was standing inconspicuously by the arrival hall conveyor belt of a metro airport, for the passengers and baggage of a flight from Bangalore via Hyderabad to come in. I conducted random sample checks on the in-flight and ground services, to ensure levels of service were as per standard. Shortly the suave and mostly suited business class passengers, looking crisp even if somewhat weary from the long flight, came striding up from a coach towards me.

Then in short succession, the economy class passengers in several coaches, tumbled out upon the arrival hall. Soon you couldn’t distinguish the class of travel of people around the conveyor belt. Passengers briskly picked up their baggage and strode out, perhaps greeting kin on the way, who then walked out with them to the exit. Many strode towards the taxi counter.

I now noticed that there was not a single baggage that had passed me, with the priority tag. This, while several business class passengers looked around impatiently, even menacingly at the two staff who appeared to be much busier than they needed to be. They were almost running in and out of the arrival hall as if it would expedite the baggage delivery. Their behaviour seemed strange to me, and even a bit dramatic, like they were keeping an eye on me. But rather than follow them around, I walked up closer to the baggage belt.

To my surprise, there was not a single priority baggage on the belt even now, while several business class passengers still waited exasperatedly. These tags were meant to ensure that business class passengers got their baggage first on arrival. But I didn’t wear a uniform then, so they couldn’t identify me in order to start shouting as they often did back then, at any staff. This was when apex fares, leave alone low cost carriers hadn’t come into the Indian sky. Unlike now when staff stiffly police and dictate to passengers in turn, back then passengers always seemed to know more, even expect much more from airlines. As they paid a lot more. Business class, was a full cost, premium service.

On closer look, I noticed that there were no priority tags on the bags alright, but several had the elastic belts that carried them — still clinging to the handles of the baggage. I immediately suspected what might be the issue. So I rushed out of the hall towards the point where the baggage was being off loaded on to the belt. And to my horror, in spite of my strong hunch, I saw a loader and a traffic staff pulling out the priority tags in a great hurry, from the segregated baggage on the floor, which had arrived last. The staff didn’t stop on seeing me even though they knew my assignment, as they referred to me as QC, to warn each other of my coming up. They felt justified in what they were doing.

So in effect, these staff using their limited experiences and thinking, were cheating the customer into believing that the tag might have fallen off, or worse still never have been tagged at the check in counter of the origin station. The next day, I obviously wrote a lengthy and strong incident report and sent it off along with my regular audit reports to my boss’s office. Who in turn reported to the CEO.

So anyway, the duty manager and supervisors got pulled up soon after, not to mention the airport manager as well. All of us were called in to the head office on the next convenient flight. They were all obviously very upset with me, and that’s a gross understatement. But that was my job to do and I couldn’t cheat on my duties.

Yet what I should have done then and I didn’t, for which I regret now, is that, when they got called out and then blamed the airport services and customer services heads respectively, with the HR department also coming down strong that the Duty Manager and Airport Manager had instigated the staff to do such things, I should have firmly pointed out, that I did not remotely imagine they had any hand in this petty and nonsensical business. As with their years of experiences, they obviously would have the intelligence to know the repercussions, that this frivolous situation would emerge only sooner rather than later.
The staff down the line, especially loaders, who tried to safeguard themselves and their department from my QC report, didn’t have the mental bandwidth to think of the embarrassment that their seniors would be put through, let alone fathom why I was assigned to do what I was doing even if I looked dumb to them! 😃

But who really suffered in this…the passenger, obviously! If this petty cheating happened to him a couple more times, he would obviously and surely go and bell the cats chewing up his rather expensive flying experience, that should have ensured his walking out of the arrival hall way before!

Often we look at situations that present themselves to us in life, with our limited experiences and perspectives, also narrow visions irrespective of our age, then go raving mad, disbursing blame and hate on anyone in sight. We have lately been witnesses to all the mud slinging going on in the media about so many people including Bollywood celebrities. Now the muck is on several of their own faces…where will these media houses hide!
Didn’t they demonstrate to us how to fling one hate filled gas balloon after another, without trying to shield a person from acid attacks till proven guilty!

Then the more we personally dislike a person, worse still only because of the political party they represent, the more guilty they are in our eyes. The person pitched against them is automatically the biggest personal friend. Have we ever stopped to think of the messages of hate, mistrust, and utter mockery we’re instilling in the youth, with which we’re building the future society!


PS: Adding this news of the 12th of Oct, in this link, to further illustrate my point: https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/entertainment-2/bollywood-hits-back-aamir-khan-salman-khan-top-producers-sue-republic-tv-times-now-over-derogatory-remarks-5954011.html/amp

This is the latest on the TRP scam that had inspired this post…https://www.deccanchronicle.com/amp/nation/crime/121020/trp-scam-case-5-more-summoned-by-mumbai-crime-branch.html

PS: For more stories like this from my working life, please take a look at my book…

#workingwoman #womensempowerment #workinglife #indianmedia #televisionchannels #TRP #aviation #airline #mediatrial #books #journalism #responsiblejournalism #airline #inspirationalbooks

3 thoughts on “A Tea-time Story: on Television TRPs, Airline services and Media trials.

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