Wanting to share her experience and have Qantas right its wrongs, Shetty logged onto Instagram over the weekend and told her thousands of followers about her experience.
"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!!) travelling together," the post begins, before Shetty goes on to explain that the airline staffer repeatedly urged her to check her bag at another counter. The bag in question, Shetty says, was half empty.
View this post on Instagram
Subject: #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!!) travelling together,I was flying business and had 2 bags (my allowance)and she insisted and decided my half empty Duffel bag was oversized(to check in!!) So she sent us to check it in at the other counter dealing with “Oversized luggage”..there a Polite lady(yes this one was) said..”this ISN’T an oversized bag, pls check this in manually if u can at another counter” (all this happening while the counter is going to shut in 5 mins) As the manual check in wasn’t going thru for 5 mins(we tried) I went upto #Mel and requested her to put the bag thru as her colleague said it wasn’t an oversized bag.. She refused again.. Just being adamant especially when I told her this is causing a lot of inconvenience.. We had no time to waste so we ran to the oversized baggage counter and requested her to put the bag through which she did after I told her that #Rude #Mel had issues!!!…. to which another colleague joined in an reiterated my duffle wasn’t oversized and could’ve easily been checked in. The point is.. This piece is only for #qantas airlines to know and take cognisance.. that their staff must be taught to be helpful and TONE can’t change with preference to #COLOUR.”WE” are NOT #pushovers and they MUST know that being #callous and #Rude will NOT BE TOLERATED 🙏✋🏼💔. Ps: Please tell me if that bag in the picture is oversized??!! @australia @visitmelbourne @travel #truthmustbetold #bemused #uncalledfor #standup #equality #whatswrongisnotright #instapic #travelwoes #shocking #nightmare #notcool
Giving in, Shetty moseyed on over to the designated counter, where a "polite lady" informed her that her bag was not oversized. Thus, Shetty turned around and made her way back to "grumpy Mel" after the manual check-in kiosk the friendly staffer directed her to failed to work properly.
The events unfolded when the check-in counter was due to close within roughly five minutes, per Shetty.
And what did this grumpy employee do when Shetty returned, you wonder? She directed Shetty back to the other check-in counter after reiterating that her bag exceeded size restrictions.
"We had no time to waste, so we ran to the oversized baggage counter and requested [the staffer] to put the bag through, which she did after I told her that #Rude #Mel had issues!!!" Shetty writes. "Another colleague joined in and reiterated my duffle wasn't oversized and could've easily been checked in."
The crux of the matter, according to Shetty, is that Qantas Airlines needs to retrain their staff members: "[T]heir staff must be taught to be helpful and tone can't change with preference to #COLOUR."
"‘We are not #pushovers and they must know that being #callous and #Rude will not be tolerated," she added.
The post drew split reactions from netizens, as many questioned why she called the encounter racist to begin with.
"I don't see anything related to racism or even discrimination on the basis of color," one Instagram user wrote. "Please stop promoting negative and wrong things on social media. That staff may be having a bad day, which came out on you as merely a bad customer service."
Since the post went live, Shetty has backed away somewhat from the incident, telling The Times of India she had already said what she had to say.
"It was an unpleasant experience I encountered. I've been an actor for far too long and garnered a lot of attention; I will not make a loose statement for publicity. It's not my style!" the actress told the outlet. "If I made a statement it was with a lot of thought! The airline has apologized and I am sure has done the needful. Support staff being uncourteous is not acceptable, hence I expressed my displeasure at that."
"Having said that, I have many friends in Australia and have visited the country before, where the experience was always good. I have moved on and don't like to mull over things in the past," she added.
No word on whether the airline spoke with the employee identified as "grumpy Mel."