I said surprise me, and it seems I am getting all the wrong sort of surprises these days! Look, I’ve been a long time Jet Airways flier, and there are things I like, such as their social media team, and things I don’t like, such as their food. But sometimes things go south, and I have a feeling we are entering that phase.
First, we had this thing where the airline refused to put the coats of economy passengers in the plane’s closet, stating it was now exclusive to Business Class fliers. Think about it; I’ve never seen this being mentioned in their literature as an exclusive service.
Then, a month ago, they changed their boarding process, where elites are demoted to board in front of their zone rather than in front of everyone else. This means you run out of space for your bags if you give them your business often enough. Or, you can sit in the back with lesser legroom, and board first. And also risk then you won’t get your choice of a meal because high chance they ran out of those by the time your turn arrives.
And now, there is a new pain that has been introduced for non-elite flyers over the past three days or so. Let us circle back to Seat Select, a service which allows everyone to pre-assign a seat on the plane before check-in window opens. In economy, JP Platinum members get it for all fare categories, while Golds get it for Classic and Flex Economy tickets. Everyone needs to pay a fee.
Now, all airlines get you to pay for their seats now, but my position on paying for seats is still rooted to the fact that I paid for a ticket on the plane, so why should I pay more for a seat extra? I hardly ever remember paying for seat selection.
So, a new nuance has been introduced since June 20th. Earlier, Platinum & Gold members could check-in 48 hours prior along with premium cabins, and everyone else could check in 24 hours prior. Seat Select used to shut down at 24 hours for the flight. At that hour, all seats were open, and you could have your pick. So, a first come first serve basically.
Except, now there is this innocent new line which changes everything.
This played out in real life last evening, and it wasn’t pretty. My parents are due to travel today, and yesterday, I tried to check them in. So we reached the web check-in page where a cool dude tells us nothing above the fold about the new changes.
Next, we go through the rigmarole. Still no sight of trying to get their hand in my wallet.
And now, it pops up like…. surprise!
So guess what did I do then? I closed that window and abandoned check-in. And when we checked them in this morning for the evening flight, everything on the plane was open, and they were in the 20s in terms of those who had already checked in on the plane. This wasn’t encouraging enough people to check in beforehand, and they would all now want to check in at the airport. This is a complete U-turn from a time when this same airline would pay people 250 JPMiles to check in online.
Most people will wonder, why are they not being able to select a seat for free. I had some background to this issue a few days ago when a reader tweeted to me, but I thought I would soon be able to test-drive this new enhancement for myself.
Like I said ahead, most of us will be made to pay for check-in now. And to think, there is no formal notification of this combination of the seat select feature with the check-in capability of the airline. Many will feel the pinch of this system as it inconveniences them, as in the example above. And many will ignorantly pay up thinking this is the only way they can get a seat assigned. Unfortunately, they haven’t been warned except in a footnote somewhere on the check-in page.
As a shareholder, I should be happy about this move, but what happened to the days of being transparent?
What do you think of this new enhancement from Jet Airways? I believe it is nickel and diming.