How I Blew it all in Kingfisher

I have lost 100% of my money in Kingfisher and I am pissed.

Pissed with Kingfisher. Pissed with Wife. Pissed with Amex.

Pissed with Amex? What’s wrong with me? And how did I end up investing in Kingfisher?

Well, one evening, I took a friend to a very nice fusion food restaurant in south Delhi called Indian Accent.

I had booked a table for dinner using my Amex card concierge service but Amex screwed up. When we arrived, we were told there was no table booked for us.

My face, neck and ears suddenly felt impossibly hot. What must my friend be thinking? How could Amex do this to me? To ME?

In a fit, I yanked out my phone and called Amex. The girl on the other end of the line — we will call her Shilpa— couldn’t possibly have felt the heat of fury on my face but  surely she would have been terrified of my shaking, trembling, and very loud voice.


While that poor girl was still trying to figure out how the fuck up happened, I borrowed a pair of scissors from the restaurant, cut up my card into two pieces and then told her how nice it felt to do it. Brilliant!

And then I remembered my points. A few hundred thousand of them. Shit!

I was about to lose my lovely Amex points. Deprival Super Reaction time! Do something! Why not transfer them to my Kingfisher air miles account? Great idea!

So I ordered Shilpa to immediately transfer them to my Kingfisher miles account. This happened about 18 months ago, when Kingfisher was not dead yet, had all its planes, and had very cheerful staff. Shilpa made the transfer with just a few keystrokes and that was that. For now.

Amex got in touch with me later, apologised about the fuck up, compensated me for the embarrassment, and reissued my card. But my Amex card points were now Kingfisher miles.

Things got worse for the airline and a time came when I was just too scared to be on a Kingfisher flight being flown by a very depressed pilot who hadn’t been paid his salary for several months and who felt that “today, I will teach him a lesson, now where’s that penthouse? ”

Why take that risk?

But, why, you ask, didn’t I redeem my miles earlier? Well, my wife wouldn’t let me. The risk of cancelled flights was just too high, she reckoned. She switched me to super-efficient, low-cost Indigo and I never looked back.

And that, dear reader, is my sad story of how I ended up becoming an unpaid and unsecured creditor of a high-cost, highly-leveraged, loss-making, and soon-to-be-shut-down airline.

Who’s to blame for my losses? Amex. Kingfisher. Wife.

All of them. Anyone but me.



25 thoughts on “How I Blew it all in Kingfisher

  1. Bakul Lalla says:

    Could you have transferred your Amex points to an entity other than Kingfisher? Airlines’ capital intensity, structural costs, with no pricing power and poor labor relations makes it a formula for a disaster sooner or later. That’s what I know about US airlines. I wonder if it was the same regarding Kingfisher. Besides, being an unsecured creditor of an airline is not a good position to be in since there is no margin of safety since there are senior obligations ahead of you. Your significant other could equally say that you made the sole decision (assuming that’s what you did unless she had a hand in the decision making process) to transfer Amex points to Kingfisher miles, thus it all points back to you.

    • No it doesn’t point back to me Bakul. Like I said. It’s Amex’s fault. It’s Kingfisher’s fault — why did it have to go bust? Or it’s my wife’s fault. You can’t blame me!

  2. Of course, YOU are to blame. Because of your huge EGO, you lost your temper and made an ass of yourself. I wonder what your friend thought of you when he saw you cutting up your Amex card ?? What were you trying to achieve anyways by doing that ?? Even after you “fucked up” there, you could have just got a new card issued with all your “lovely Amex points” intact. But, no, you had to screw it up further. The way Kingfisher was run, it was just a matter of time before they either filed for bankruptcy or were just barely kept alive through Govt bailouts. You can choose to learn from this experience or you can continue to go through life making an asshole of yourself🙂 Cheers, Prof.

  3. Carlos, you just made my day. Thanks.🙂

  4. vsarda says:

    What if you transfer your miles to a charity? That way atleast some moral consolation might be forthcoming🙂

  5. 0musing says:

    To quote the Bhagavad Gita, instead of standard treatise’s on Behavioral finance…Whatever you do and whoever you listen to, its finally your decision. If you had not taken any decision, even then it would have been your decision. Sorry! that’s Lord Krishna’s verdict🙂

  6. Varun Garg says:

    It was great to read your story as it gave me satisfaction of not being the only one who is stuck with those deadly King Miles and a free KFA ticket courtesy AMEX.
    Do kindly let me know too, what step you are planning to take further.
    Just like your wife, my parents dint let me fly KFA in the fear of cancellation at the last moment and now I am stuck with the free ticket and the King Miles.

  7. Varun Panaskar says:

    Sir, did you really cut the card in two pieces due to anger? Anyone would be angry if such thing happens but cutting the card and then transferring Amex points to Kingfisher air miles account. It cant be you Prof. my mind is just not to ready to believe this.🙂

    • Varun, that’s a good example of what Daniel Kahneman calls WYSIATI — What You See Is All There Is. If you meet my childhood friends or my family members and talk about me, you’ll get the impression that they are talking about a different person — not the one you know.

      We all have our wild sides which we suppress in certain social settings. What you see is not all there is.🙂

      • Varun Panaskar says:

        True, just like what I did during trip with my friends.😀
        I should have thought that way, I became too confident with what I little knew. Sorry Prof. if I have offended you by that.

  8. kklucky says:

    I remember having received a tempting offer from KFA ~2 years back for bulk travel coupons. I am glad I did not fall for it🙂

  9. sir this was really insightful never thought
    the heat of anger can go to this level

    “today, I will teach him a lesson, now where’s that penthouse? “🙂

  10. amitdgarg says:

    Or You could blame Texas International Airlines for pioneering the miles scheme😀

  11. Hi Sanjay Sir, I think if the Diageo-USL deal goes thru, you may still be able to recover some of your bad debts…….along with all the speculators in the USL stock, you must also be eagerly awaiting the deal announcement🙂

    • krisiyer60 says:

      Actually KFA will neither pay for its fuel nor the banks. Mr. M was scared that he might loose USL to SBI consortium banks. Hence it was a careful maneuver to sell USL to Diageo. Though Mr. M owns around 10% of USL, without Diageo’s consent SBI can do nothing. So not a single paise will SBI consortium recover.

  12. it is really funny to see people here teaching you bad economics of airline business.

  13. Anshul Khare says:

    Vicarious learning of the day !! Never take a decision when you are under the attack of intense emotional outburst. Don’t accept/buy something when you are very happy (positive emotion) – you may end up paying more, and never let go off/sell something when you are very depressed/angry/scared (negative emotion)🙂

  14. Harmit says:

    well, what to say…..i cant even point a finger at you! as ive probably made a bigger mistake….i flew with kingfisher for a good three years or so (london/mumbai) to accumulate enough miles to upgrade, sometimes even paying a premium for the tickets (partly cos the service was good) and partly to stick with the same airline. i had enough miles to upgrade as of 1st week of april and thats when they dropped the bombshell… more flights to international destinations! all the miles remain as they were and rest is all history.

    reflecting on the whole experience, i realised the whole issue prefectly demonstrated itself as a textbook example of “impact of supply and demand on prices”. 3 years back there used to be 4 direct flights between london/mumbai (jet, kingfisher, ba, air india) (and assuming 250 seats per flight) and 2 flights per day there were 2000 seats to buy from. I could buy a direct flight for roughly £400.

    Now, with only jet and ba flying consistently withought any cancellations etc. there are around 1000 tickets (or 1500 if you want to include air india) to choose from or 50% of the supply is out of the market! the cost of a direct flight is upwards of £600 (there would be an inflation component in it). But worse still is that i cant find a direct flight for new year at less than £1200.

    So, i hate kingfisher, i hate vijay mallya.

  15. Sir, “I Don’t Want to be a Toll Bridge, I Want to be Its Meaning” reliance communication or tata communication having fiber link around the glob.

  16. Isn’t it too naive to believe that KFA, which hasn’t paid for its fuel, its staff salaries for months & its bankers, would do something for its ‘loyal’ customers for their unredeemed air miles/points.

    All along the narration, I just felt that it was totally impulsive reactions / decisions which landed the professor in the mess in which he is right now. Now thinking of blaming somebody for all this, is nothing but further extending the mess.

    Good luck mate ! Try ur luck (not *uck), next time, by keeping cool.

  17. Sridhar Ch says:

    Dear Professor,
    Nice story. On a lighter note I think you fell in to a value trap while your wife turned out to be a good value picker (by choosing Indigo)…….however, we can learn a lot of lessons from life and apply it to value investing too.

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