How we got to Infosys for the Airtel Money Launch

It was going to take a massive helping of luck and some incredible turn of events to make this work, but both Nandita, from Airtel’s marketing department and me decided to go ahead and take the risk, because it promised to be a great show if we managed to pull it off!

We played in Bhubaneshwar, Orissa on the 3rd of April, and were scheduled to go to Coimbatore directly from there and then on to the M.A.D festival where we would play on the 5th. However, Airtel wanted to launch their new service, Airtel Money on the 5th in Infosys, Bangalore but after finding out that we couldn’t be a part of it, decided to do our show on the 4th instead.

All was well, except, the ONLY direct flight from Bhubaneshwar to Bangalore landed in Bangalore at 3.30pm and since it was a weekday at Infosys, the company feared that people wouldn’t stay back late and so wanted to start the show at 5pm. For us to get out of the airport and make it to the Infosys campus and then do a soundcheck and start was going to be impossible. So we almost cancelled the plan, but for this one flight connection I found – Bhubaneshwar to Hyderabad by an Indigo flight, a one hour and ten minute wait before we take the Jet Lite flight to Bangalore. And to top that, the planned closure of the Bangalore airport would end on the 3rd and we would be landing on the first day when the airport was open during the day!

And we were still cutting it close and adding more points of failure to the plan, but we decided it was worth taking that risk! And at the end of the day, Indigo goes on national TV and tells us how their service is incredibly prompt and we’ve seen and almost come to believe it, so we would surely be able to do this.

But as fate would have it, the Indigo flight from Bhubaneshwar to Hyderabad was delayed by 40 minutes. This meant that before we even took off from Bhubaneshwar, we were not going to make the Jet Lite deadline to checkin.

And this happened without any warning, we sat in the flight that arrived at the scheduled Departure time and from there, just one thing added to another and what was supposed to be a 10.10am departure was going to be a 10.45am departure.

I made 2 calls at this point, one to my wife Shilpa, who I asked to web check us in one way or the other, and another to Nandita, who I asked to talk to Jet and see if they can hold check-in for us till we get there.

I couldn’t web check-in the band myself the previous day because for some God forsaken reason, Jet allows only Jet Privilege members to web check-in, but Shilpa called the office and fought her way through making sure we were web checked in by the time we landed in Hyderabad, and not just that, she even got us our favorite seats!

Nandita went into rockstar mode, called Jet, requested, pleaded, threatened to sue, swore and even cajoled I think to make sure that Jet would hold the counters open for us. Further than that, I was told, both Airtel’s management and Infosys management put their stern word in to make sure we would board that flight. And just as a precaution, had even kept an helicopter on stand by to make sure we get our behinds to Bangalore in time.

On the flight, I did my share of cajoling and requesting and got the cabin crew to talk to the captain of the flight to call the Indigo ground staff and tell them that the flight was delayed and we had no other option and request them to help us in anyway possible.

After that, it was the most tense 90 minute flight I have ever taken, with no way to know what was happening, all I could do was sit and wait!

The minute we touched down in Hyderabad, I put my phone on and called Shilpa who confirmed that we had been checked-in on the flight and called Nandita who said she has done all she can to have them wait for us.

The flight came up to the aero-bridge, and the 6 of us were the first to exit the flight, and much to our surprise found and Indigo airport staff member, Zaed, waiting for us with our boarding passes for the Jet flight. He took us through the transfer route, had us go through security check and at the boarding gate for the Jet flight in less than 10 mins. Even the security staff were quite amused and shocked to see an Indigo staff member doing all this for a Jet flight!

Once we were at the gate, it was time to worry about our instruments that were checked in to the flight. Zaed got on the job and did his magic. Just as they announced the final boarding call for us to take the flight, Zaed came back to say our bags and instruments were connected as well and we now had all our stuff transferred to the Jet flight. The sigh of relief on hearing this was quite something!

A HUGE round of thanks and our heart felt appreciation to Zaed, Mary, Sami and Somiah from the Indigo offices / airport staff and to Sneha, Iona and Shruti, the cabin crew members on our flight from Bhubaneshwar without whose help, all of this would never have happened for us! You guys absolutely rock :)

The Jet flight to Bangalore itself was quite uneventful and we go to the airport in Bangalore, headed to Infosys and like all fairy tales end, had one hell of a smashing gig!

With that, Airtel Money officially launched in Infosys!

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