Clarifications & Thoughts on the JetPrivilege revamp

Yesterday, a while after my post on the new JetPrivilege program went live, I had a chat with Manish Dureja, who is the head of the company which owns and operates the JetPrivilege program. Both of us were working on a Sunday, but what to do, JetPrivilege had just brought out changes to the program which were far reaching, and these will go live within a month. If you haven’t read the post, have a look here.

Manish was there to clarify a few points and tell me more about the thought process behind the move. We all know now, that Jet Airways will move to the Etihad way of looking at fares, where fares will be divided into various categories depending on:

  • How flexible you need it to be
  • What baggage allowance you need
  • How many miles you will earn
  • What other benefits you value when you travel – priority check-in, upgrade eligibility and so on.

Etihad Airways had moved to Fare Choices as of 2015, and had steered all members of the Etihad Airways Partners to move as well within a year. This is well underway now. We should be hearing from Jet Airways within a few days about the move to Fare Choices as well.

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These are the restrictions imposed on various classes typically (across Economy, Business & First). This is a very simplified version here:

  • Deal Ticket: Lowest fares possible but no provisions for cancellations, upgrades or other features. Earns lowest miles in the class of service.
  • Saver Tickets: Typically higher fares than Deals, but still discounted. Eligible for upgrades and cancellations, however, earns lesser than full miles.
  • Classic Tickets: The regular fares, not discounted usually. Eligible for upgrades, cancellations and a good bounty of miles.
  • Flex Tickets: More like last minute high fares (or full fares), offering the possibility of changes & cancellations without fee. Good amount of miles as well.

The Thought Process

We discussed the need to do this, and I was informed this is the way the airline world is moving forward. So, at some time they had to do this. I do concur with Manish, since American Airlines, Etihad and Delta, amongst others have moved to this paradigm a while ago. Indeed, then it struck me that if I paid less, I should have the flexibility to sit anywhere on the plane (as long as I am on the plane!) as compared to the guy who picked a much higher fare class than me and should get first dibs at sitting in the bulkhead seat.

Essentially, status trumping fare is over was what I made out of the conversation, and the need to do it was to align with the way business was being done worldwide. I have to agree, that sometimes airlines are paying more for my trip to the GVK Lounge than the fare they’ve charged me altogether, and then giving a lot of facilities took away the opportunity from the airline to sell more of those to me or other passengers. Having said that, I asked him why some of the things that could come for free could not be given out. For instance, Seat Select. He said, it was more about implementing the philosophy of Fare Choices where Deal tickets would not be getting seat assignments or upgrades for anyone, and not just for the high end elites. Similarly the baggage allowance cut was more a matter of sticking to a thought process than taking away from elites.

Manish did emphasize that there are a lot of initiatives in the works, and more good stuff should come out of the JetPrivilege stable soon along with Jet Airways. Of course, he was not in a position to share many details at the moment, so we left it at that. He promised the program should be stable here on, and any changes would come more tactically as they refine the framework.

On Carrier Surcharges, I asked him about what was the thinking. Manish agreed that introducing another cash component in the mix puts the customer in a bind about using miles or using cash, but he simply pointed towards it being a cost of doing business. I could not get much more out of him on this one.

Clarifications on B, D & X fares

Manish informed me that when we will hear more from Jet Airways, we’ll hear that the B fare class is going away for good and won’t be used going forward. I asked him and informed him too, that what about B fares already booked (I have 4 of those booked between me and Shipra for a date after 17 August). Manish informed me while no more of those fares will be bookable going forward, and hence they were not included in the announcement, the fares already booked would be classified as Deal Fares, and be treated as such. So, you will still get 25% miles and a tier point for your B fare tickets and not nothing.

On D fares (Business Class Upgrade/Redemptions), he said lounge access was included, and on X class (Economy Class Redemptions), your status would dictate if you got lounge access or not. He mentioned that since the announcement was about revenue fares, hence the redemption bookings were kept out of scope of it. Perhaps they could have included them anyways.

My thoughts

While these are all valid arguments, from my perspective, I also think that loyalty is a two-way street, and given the complications of running an airline, and the focus on P&L which is important especially when you run an Indian airline, I stand in the middle. I would have been happier if the airline would have taken away some benefits from elites, but not all, for lower fares. Those that cost them real money and not opportunity. Because in the current situation, I don’t see how I can give my loyalty when I frequently travel on them for work, but don’t expect to earn their loyalty benefits when I use them for a family vacation, and everything is unbundled.

I’m sure a lot of people are in this quandary, and I just thought I’d inform you all about the thoughts behind the (re)making of the program as well.

If there are other questions, I’d be happy to try and address them myself or take them to the program to come back with replies. Drop me a note in the comments section

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About Ajay Awtaney

Ajay is a financial services pro, working to bring order to the chaos of the financial industry on an everyday basis! Beyond that, he dons the hat of India's favourite frequent traveller, trying to help people elevate their travel experience via tips and tricks they never knew before, or introduce them to the world of miles and points. Armed with an MBA from MDI Gurgaon and graduate degree in computer science from the University of Delhi, Ajay brings a systematic and objective approach on the table for his audience in dissecting travel and loyalty programs in India and around the world, and how to benefit from them. Ajay has been quoted in various reputed traditional and online media including The Hindustan Times, Inside Flyer, Bloomberg, DNA India, Conde Nast Traveller, The Telegraph, Mumbai Mirror, Mint, MoneyLife and The USA Today.

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Comments

  1. Can you beat it …I was quoted the tax amount of Rs 38674 for One way Busines cLass DEL-JNB sector connecting via LHR on Virgin Atlantic.No stopover is involved. Delta was quoting $ 45 approx as tax for the same sector..same flights.

  2. bye bye for now to jetairways…….loyalty always comes at a cost to the service provider….but a customer once lost is lost forever!!

  3. Read your section on the D & X Class fares – and lounge access.

    Query : 1. What would be the Extra baggage allowance on Redemption tickets ‘X’ class used by a Platinum member? Called up the Airline today, and no one seemed to know…would like to avoid Airport counter embarrassment – and useful if we could get a confirmation from jet and keep as reference.

    2. Did a Seat Select on the same ticket ( was kept on hold while the Agent confirmed that it was indeed complimentary in ‘X’ for a Platinum), but the change was ( unlike pre Aug 17), that other family members on same PNR were not seated alongside – only the Plat holder!

  4. As rightly pointed out by Mr.Agarwal Jet Airways should realize that a flyer gets low fare not by his choice but only if he books ticket in advance. There is an risk that he cant make the trip due to various reasons and the entire amount is forfeited by the Airlines. Then why discriminate against a low fare ticket for JP Miles ?

  5. I am sending this mail to Jet privelage just sharing with you:
    The new policy of Jet Airways may be okay from airlines perspective but certain points are to be re viewed.
    A flyer get low fare not by his choice but only if he books ticket in advance.On low fares jet have decided to pull certain facility like lounge access, reduction in the points and certain cost bearing amenities, that’s fine. but few points are there which are not having direct/ additional cost bearing like upgrade against voucher/points that should continue, as it has nothing to do with their low fare as flier has already earned it (voucher/points) and not having any additional direct cost on the airlines.What is the fun if one has to buy a costly ticket to upgrade if cheaper tickets are available.
    They may withdraw the lounge access for all ff, as I feel most have them are having some or other cards to access lounge.
    Secondly for early booking a flier should be entitled to purchase cheaper tickets against lower points if they are available.
    Somehow I feel there is is nothing much for the jet platinum or gold fliers in the new policy as lounge access card is available to most of the frequent flier.
    Have a relook on this other wise passenger instead of retaining there platinum status will fly other airlines.

    Sent from my iPad

  6. @Ajay , Thanks for post 🙂
    B Class will get 25% + 1 Tier point… Is this true?
    Sometime 9W goof up 😉
    Thanks, PK2

  7. Loyalty comes at a cost to the customer and to the seller. You can’t expect the customer to pay for the loyalty while you gradually shirk away your responsibility. And as Ajay said, many a times GVK lounge costs more than the flight ticket , so be it. You are getting a fully loyal customer who will only fly with JET whenever he flies. His loyalty can be subsidized a little as compared to others who show no particular loyalty.

    The airline world can go anyway. If you have been able to survive till now by going generous on your loyal members, you can do the same ahead. If the cost is so much of an issue, then Jet can chose to go Low Cost ! Why give a sham under the gab of so called loyalty benefits!

    I am planning to fly more with Air India . I may get the same fare based miles but at least a Star Alliance membership. As far as Air India ‘poor service’ is concerned, not that Jet is giving a world class service. In fact a Jet meal platter is half filled with very average and measly food where I have to separately ask for a jam/pickle or salt/pepper sachets. At least in Air India the platter is full with awesome food!

  8. The revamp has landed JP with the league of one of the worst loyalty programs. I used to prefer flying with Jet only because I had lounge access, even though it cost a few bucks more compared to fares offered by other airlines.

    Now that they have made it clear that a customer has to pay significantly more to get access to the lounge (and yet not get 100% JP miles), there is no reason for me to fly with Jet. I kind of regret having spent so much on travelling with Jet now. I would definitely look at other airlines which are cheaper, for travelling henceforth, since I won’t be getting anything extra while travelling with 9W.

    I have one question here – I already have 2 tickets booked under class B for travel post-Aug. 17. I would be having an overnight layover at Mumbai which is why I booked with Jet, assuming that I would be able to get some good food and sleep at the lounge. Now that this won’t be happening, am I allowed to cancel those tickets and get a full refund?

    • Unfortunately, that might not give you any worthy refund. As I mentioned earlier, they have thrown business ethics to the air when they sold off cheap fare tickets for this lean season (just count the number of promotional sales they have had since April!) and then retrospectively take away the miles, lounge access, Tier status and what not?

  9. Well everyone have their own concerns. Earlier program was no doubt liberal on many counts which made FF’s very happy and the airline sulk (w.r.t the FF program). Now with these changes, the FF’s (including me) is annoyed like hell and Jet seems to be in some relaxed space. What Jet failed to do is try to find a balance to the best way possible for both the sides. I agree with views expressed by other FF’s here that platinum members should have been given to continue all the privileges. Its logical reason that platinum member even though travelling on a discounted class might have given much more business to Jet earlier. There are time when I have booked a last minute ticket at an exorbitant price. Also there assumed reason that sending a discounted ticket traveler to a lounge is a loss to them, then its truly sad. This in fact is a cost for them to retain loyal customers. Jet wants the FF’s to bear the cost for remaining loyal rather than Jet taking efforts and bearing costs to do the same. I am frequent flier to Dubai and I find no reason to continue with Jetprivilige.
    Also when the program was massively overhauled last time they increased redemption chart and it was also justified given the liberty of accruing miles. Now that the benefits have gown down drastically; earning miles have now become tough (other than by cc) and the newly introduced mileage charge Jet should have also revamped its redemption charts.
    My conclusion to this is that although Jet was liberal as compared to other FF programs, this kind of move and changes are totally uncalled for. The basic message being given by Jet is, PAY EVERY TIME to feel previliged.

  10. They are gonna lose a good chunk of loayal customer. Jey airways customer have always been loyal. The way i see it now, they are not interested. I guess thats more because jet privilege is no more operated by the airline but thru a pvt company. Vistara is doing job. They are expanding for good. They even got a a co-brand credit now to earn faster miles. An i hope they tie up to citibank or hdfc. If they do. It would be a cracking deal.

  11. My conclusion is that with JetPrivilege being so intricate and short-sighted and Air India being annoying and sarkari at all points (KYC? Seriously?), Vistara will benefit the most. I have found them able to take hard calls when needed (restructuring planes for PE) and have a sense of Life Time Value of a customer rather than per transaction revenue.

  12. This is not so good decision for FFs. I would rather give a try to Vistara as they are also expanding routes and services are at par even better than Jet.

  13. While many airlines are moving towards a revenue oriented system, they take into account the revenue the customer has given them over the course of a year. What Jet is doing is very different. Looking at revenue on a per flight basis for people who are already your highest tier of elites is very stupid and will inconvenience the hell out of people.

    If I book a Jet flight using an OTA, how do I know what I’ve booked ? Sure in isolation the cost of sending me to the GVK lounge on a W class fare is high but the fact that I am platinum means that I must have given Jet revenue somewhere else on some other route that made it worth Jet’s while. If anything Jet should focus on making it harder to become platinum or gold. Right now there is barely any difference between Platinum, Gold and Co Branded credit card holders.

  14. Hi,
    First of all who cares for smart term deals. This is rule of business. if you are getting constant business from someone, you don’t upset them. Sometimes you have to keep extending freebies and other stuff at cost of doing business.

    If I am Platinum, I have been loyal enough to be entitled to special treatment. It is same way as I would go to any other business. I am taking this as Jet Airways way of throwing us in the water. Entire reason someone wants to fly and accumulate those miles is that feeling of ELITE status. It is feeling that keeps me loyal. Why would I book Jet Airways flights going to Dubai when I am getting much better deals elsewhere? Till now it was because I was getting all those add ons and earning tier points mattered. So in exchange of little bit extra money, I was getting lot more comfort. Now that comfort is gone.

    Jet Airways should remember – once you irked the customer badly, he/she is never coming back. For saving couple of 1000s rupees from him – you are losing over lakhs of rupees of business forever

  15. The argument that ‘this is the way the airline world is moving forward’ is spineless and disrespectful to the customers. There is a reason that platinum customers are platinum of a particular airline and not of all the other airline there is. Jet simply wants to take the benefits by selling us the unbundled service, while blame the others for the outburst.

    It seems that Jet can now give you all privileges only when you are a platinum customer, AND book a high fare ticket. A case of having the cake and eating it too.

    Reaching profitability is Jet’s prerogative, but giving extra privileges is the ‘cost of running a loyalty program’. Some of these like redemption charges are petty to say the least.

    At least Jet should own up to their decisions, and not blame the other airlines in the industry for it.

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