After a terrible flight in from Singapore aboard Jet Airways, I am nervous about our return leg. In fact, it was so bad that I made the effort to complain about it in a letter to the Chairman of the airline. 18 days since I've written and all I have is a holding reply. The only thing I can do is make fellow parents and readers aware. Please think carefully before you choose to fly with Jet Airways. And please share how was your experience travelling with your child?
Mr. Naresh Goyal
Jet Airways (India) Ltd.
Mumbai 400 059
4th January 2008
Sub: Appalling levels of service received on 9W017
I traveled on 5th Dec from Singapore to Delhi on Jet Airways flight 9W017 with my 6 month old daughter. Unfortunately the level of service that I received at the airport and on board was so terrible that my daughter and I suffered an extremely uncomfortable flight.
I’m chronicling the list of events that occurred in the hope that some action will result.
1. When we arrived for check in at the Singapore Airport and sought to confirm our request for a bassinet, we were informed that no bassinet was available on the flight. I was stunned that on a long haul flight the airline didn’t offer bassinets and had not deemed it necessary to inform me beforehand that such a basic service could not be provided. On being challenged, the staff pretended that they had no record that an infant was traveling on the flight. This is ridiculous considering an infant ticket had been issued and under international rules an infant cannot travel without an accompanying adult.
2. I then requested a seat in the front row so that we could be more comfortable. I was informed that they could not give me a seat in the front row because only one infant was allowed in the front row and a seat had already been reserved by another parent. I’m sorry but I have been on numerous flights where I have seen more than one mother with an infant in the front row so I cannot fathom the logic for such a ridiculous policy. It’s another matter that when we boarded the plane, there was no other parent with an infant in the front row. Another lie by the staff to hide their mistake as all front row seats had been allocated to other non-parent passengers.
3. When I insisted that I would only travel in the front row, we were made to wait for over an hour before being allocated a seat. As a result by the time we got to the gate, boarding had already started and we had to queue with all the other passengers to board the plane. At this point, any priority in helping us board the flight faster would have helped since I was holding a child and several bags. The crew was quick to ignore such basic courtesy.
4. Since a bassinet was not provided, it meant that I had to hold my daughter throughout the flight without getting an opportunity to eat, sleep or visit the restroom on a 5 ½ hour flight not to mention the transit time before and after the flight. Let me also add that not once during the flight did any crew member come forward to hold my daughter for a few minutes so I could have dinner or use the facilities.
5. I recently flew on Silk Air from Singapore to Phuket. They provide a separate seat belt for the infant which is secured on to the mother’s seat belt and a bassinet for a 90min flight. Jet Airways did not provide an extra seat belt for my daughter. Clearly safety is not very high on your priority list. In case there is any serious turbulence or issue then you are placing my daughter’s life under serious risk. To my mind, this is unforgivable.
I am writing with the expectation that this will result in a review of your policies and training so that your staff are better able to cater to parents traveling with infants. I also expect to be adequately compensated for the inconvenience and harassment that both my daughter and I have suffered. You will appreciate that a mere sorry will not suffice in light of the extent of service failure.
I am obliged to complete my return journey on your airline on 25th Jan’08 and I expect that you will provide suitable instructions to your ground staff and air crew at the Delhi Airport to ensure that we are taken care of and are allocated a front row seat with a bassinet.
Based on your reputation of striving for excellence, I expect to hear from you in writing within 2 weeks. Else, I will be sharing my experience with the media and airline review sites so that people can make a considered decision before they decide to fly with Jet Airways. My husband and I work for international banks and travel frequently to India on work and otherwise and we will be forced to patronize other airlines. In addition, a number of my extended family and friends are based in Singapore and fly frequently to India and I will be persuading them to switch to other airlines too.
The power of word of mouth is very powerful. No mother will place her child’s safety and comfort in the hands of such a careless organization.
Edited to add: We fly tommorrow morning. I have heard back from the chairman but I'm not satisfied so I've called back and blasted them again. I doubt anything will come of it. Once I'm back I will post their response so you can judge for yourself. It's a typical defensive response. They have reassured me that we will be taken care of on the flight back but aren't willing to provide compensation or upgrade us. I'll update you all once I reach Singapore. And I'm vela enough to send this to airline review sites and newspaper editors!