JetPrivilege tells 9.8 million members to pound sand with quiet Etihad Airways devaluation

Since the closure of Jet Airways, JetPrivilege has been unable to run a full-blown airline loyalty programme, given the core airline that powered the proposition vanished. Etihad, which is the majority owner of the programme, has promulgated the programme as being affiliated with Etihad Airways Group, to ensure there was no run on the programme. However, people ran helter-skelter and redeemed their miles for as low as ₹ 0.20 with Amazon Vouchers and what not.

JetPrivilege has been doing a lot of patchwork on the programme for many months now, for instance, launching a redemption option where JP would buy revenue tickets and provide these to members as a redemption option. However, the value with this option was down to 17-33 paise. They also launched an opportunity where members could earn JPMiles by buying tickets on other airlines.

It has been known for a while that the JetPrivilege brand name is up for change. The whole programme will also undergo a change on November 14, 2019, as per JetPrivilege. However, jumping the gun on this front, there is already a devaluation, which was made very very quietly. You see, JetPrivilege froze all award reservations with the Jet Airways partners, and only one remained, i.e., Etihad Airways.

The only reason to use Etihad Airways was that there was still an ability to get some good redemptions there, as long as you used Business Class, in spite of the heavy fuel surcharge (about 70K ₹ on an India – Europe ticket round trip, for instance). There was still the ability to get about ₹0.8 – ₹1 value in the process.

Etihad Airways redemption via JetPrivilege value destroyed

Late October 2019, JetPrivilege sent out an email to members, stating that they had now made it easier for members to redeem tickets on Etihad Airways, by making it a part of their online redemption options.

Like you saw here, JetPrivilege claims to have made some reductions in the award chart by doing some cuts. The primary value here was that JetPrivilege stopped collecting the co-pay towards levies, which is a nicer word for fuel surcharge. On Mumbai/Delhi to Abu Dhabi, they cut it from 24,000 JPMiles to 22,500 JPMiles. Fair. However, On Mumbai to London, the earlier award chart, ex taxes and fuel surcharge for Economy were 42,000 JPMiles one-way and not 45,000 JPMiles as claimed in the email. So in reality, Mumbai – London went up 500 JPMiles and did not go down.

There was also an element of cherrypicking to make this mailer happen, where segments where cost apparently went down were shown. For instance, Etihad Airways redemptions from India to USA East Coast would earlier cost 60,000 JPMiles for a one-way ticket (Chart here). Now, this has gone up to 75,000 JPMiles as per the fine print in the JetPrivilege Mailer. Look at Example 1.

Even in Example 2, Abu Dhabi to New York, which is shown as 65,000 JPMiles was earlier 55,000 JPMiles.

I am coming to the latest update. I decided to take it out for a spin today. Here are two dates on which Classic awards are not amply available on Etihad Airways, again between Mumbai and Paris.

 Sure enough, only the available options showed up even on the JetPrivilege website for the classic awards when I looked for Etihad Airways inventory.

But it came with a princely sum of about ₹ 10,000 as a convenience fee.

But the sticker shock was a cover for the real evaporation of value. JetPrivilege did not feel it was right to mention, even if in the fine print, that the Business Class redemptions per the old chart were gone, not just selectively changed.

Again using the Mumbai – Paris example, because I booked it for 168,000 JPMiles per head round trip in Business Class for two, earlier in the year, it went through the roof when I looked for a quote today.  For example, have a look at this inventory search I did via the Etihad Guest website. Earlier, I could book these flights available under GuestSeat for 84,000 JPMiles one-way along with fuel surcharge (2X of Economy).

Now try the same redemptions on JetPrivilege.com, and you will find that you have to pay 312,500 JPMiles one way instead of the 84,000 JPMiles earlier.

And this is not just something I experienced today. Other members were told to go pound sand on their dream flights as well. I’ve been flooded with emails and messages on Twitter. For instance, here is a comment left in the last post about this topic, which talks about the email sent to a member. It talks about a revised JetPrivilege membership programme, which none of their over 9.8 million members knows about so far.

In October 2019, I was trying to do a full update on the current JetPrivilege situation. A questionnaire sent to JPPL via their PR firm came back without answering some questions in detail, and on follow-up, remains unanswered. For instance, here is a question posed, and the answer received, without comment.

While earlier a published award chart guided on the redemptions on each sector, how are the number of miles required for a flight determined now? For instance, BOM-GOI used to be just 5,000 JPMiles earlier. Now it mostly redeems at 12,500 JPMiles and 25,000 JPMiles. Similarly for BOM-DEL, hardly any flights seem to be available at 8,500 JPMiles in Economy and no flights available at all for 17,000 JPMiles in Business Class. Instead, we don’t see BOM-DEL J for less than 62,500 JPMiles on any date. When will international “select flights” return to the old published chart levels? For instance, BOM-DXB used to be at 15,000 JPMiles plus taxes in Y and 30,000 JPMiles plus taxes in J, now, I cannot find any flights for less than 50,000 JPMiles on the chart for economy class, and 137,500 JPMiles for Business Class? What is the reason for such vast inflation in the number of miles required without any prior announcement?

On jetprivilege.com, we offer members the ability to redeem their miles as per the same JPMiles requirement as earlier. Through our flights platform, members now have the choice to earn and redeem JPMiles to fly free across more airlines, to any destinations, any flight and any seat in India and globally.
On redemptions, earlier, a flier could redeem miles only against the airfare but had to pay taxes and other levies. Now, miles are redeemed against the entire fare. The new platform removes the constraints of availability of seats, airlines and destinations. Miles required for, may vary depending on the category of seat, sector and date of travel, time of booking and other such factors.
Members have multiple redemption bands to choose flights from depending on respective
airlines’ seat availability. BOM-GOI route has redemption options starting from 5,000 JPMiles with the next band being 12,500 JPMiles followed by subsequent redemption bands. This holds true for BOM-DEL route redemptions as well as redemptions for international flights is dependent on seat availability.

Bottomline

It is most unfortunate that Etihad/JetPrivilege could not work to give members even one redemption option, which was akin to the old system. In many cases, it was out of their hands, and I could understand that 20+ airline partners could no longer deal with a loyalty programme which was no longer affiliated with an airline. But in this case, Etihad, which is the name that JetPrivilege is using in all their material, was also erased as a value proposition for the customers.

I’m really keen now, to hear what would be this something major is coming announcement in the coming days. The only thing I know right now is that Etihad Guest and JetPrivilege are both under maintenance on November 13, 2019, starting at the same time. So, there could be a line joining the two maintenance works.

What do you make of the unannounced changes to JetPrivilege and the upcoming changes which perhaps will be preceded or announced by a full-page newspaper advertisement? 


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Comments

  1. I dont know why people expected anything from this program once the airline itself went bust. Considering every mile sitting in a members account is a liability, it seems to be a case where Etihad is trying to reduce its overall liability with this programme.
    They might also be operating under the (well founded) assumption that people want to use their effectively defunct miles quickly, and what better way than to increase redemption levels.
    Im glad I burnt my last JP miles in April 2019.

  2. Why can’t these 8.9 million members come together and file a class action law suit against Jetprivilege for breach of trust?

  3. Jet privilege and Etihad guest have now become garbage like

    It’s time to even change your SBI ETIHAD credit card as well .

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