Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Jet Airways - Why I will not be flying with them again

Hi folks,

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
Chairman
Jet Airways (India) Ltd.
S.M. Centre
Andheri-Kurla Road
Andheri (East)
Mumbai 400 059


4th January 2008



Dear Sir,

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.


With disappointment,

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!

21 comments:

DotMom said...

thanks a lot for sharing this!!!! even budget airlines should have a bit of courtesy and should not take safety lightly!

GettingThereNow said...

Thanks for sharing this. I know which airline to avoid on our next trip to india. Do let us know if you hear back from the chairman. keep us updated, please. Hope your flight back is better (or are you already back?)

B o o said...

I cant imagine traveling alone with an infant without a bassinet!That must have been horrible!

Regarding the infant seat belt, only domestic flights do that. For the past 2 years, I have traveled Lufthansa, Swiss, BA,... The in flight attendants told me that I have to hold the child (less than 2) in my lap while the seat belt sign was on. No belt for the child.

I had a horrible experience with Lufthansa once (was nt traveling with a child though) and I wrote a letter to them. 2 months later, after I reached Swiss, they wrote a letter to my chennai address with once sentence "Sorry for the inconveninence and hope you continue to fly with us"!!!!!! Howazzat?!

Anonymous said...

Another airline to avoid when you're travelling with kids is Qantas. I had a nightmare flight with my then 1 year old a few years ago, flying Singapore-Perth. Only one bassinet on the plane (which was allotted to us, but we gave it up to the family travelling with three kids, including an infant). They refused to put my son's milk bottle in the fridge and finally I had to sit the entire journey with a plastic bag full of melting ice cubes at my feet (their solution to the problem). The return flight was British Airways which was also bad. After that, I travelled SQ every time and the service is incredible. I've heard Air India is also a good option, but SQ has the TV screens and the controls for those used to keep my son amused for a good long time.

Mona said...

what a terrible experience, esepcially having to hold squiggles for over five hours. hope that the retun flight is better for you.
how else are you sharing this with media? editorial columns of newspapers?

Moppet's Mom said...

You know, people used to scoff when I told them I prefered Indian to Jet Airways and that I've actually had worse service on Jet than on Indian. It used to be the fashionable thing to look down on Indian - but the fact is that Jet is pricey, snooty, and extremely rigid.

Your trip sounds terrible - hope your return trip is better. The least they can do is give you an upgrade on the way back.

Mala said...

Oh boy. The "we did not know an infant was going to be on this flight" was too much.

Where did you send the letter to? Try sending a copy to jetprivilege@jetairways.com , marked to Rahul Kucheria - he's the guy whose name is on all the mailers I get. Will try to get a couple of other email addresses.

I've had a pretty decent experience with them on domestic flights - but not with a kid of course.

choxbox said...

Wow - no seat belt for infant? We fly BA mostly and the airhostess/steward is usually after my life to put the infant seat belt even if there is mild turbulence.

Lakshmi said...

Hi,

Long time reader but first time commenting here. I travelled to India last year with a 59 day old infant on Air India. People had adviced me against going to Air India but I went ahead since I wanted to promote our airlines.

When I booked the tickets I had specifically made sure that we are given a bassinet and confirmed the availability of it 2 days before the travel. Everytime we were answered in the affirmative and when we reached the airport, the staff said that the aircraft changed and there were no bassinets on this flight! I was at a loss how to take my daughter all the way to India from the US along with my aged mother. Througout the journey my poor kid slept on the food tray in front of us. The staff was least co-operative and the air hostess even more so.

Coming back was the same story inspite of my having spoken to many high authorities of Air India.

I guess they are not worried about losing business because they have a large population to cater to and don't care about a couple of people who refuse to fly with them.

It is sad that you went through what you did. I can completely understand the state of mind and I hope you have a good flight without any glitches back to Singapore.

All the best and have a safe trip.

Lakshmi

Kodi's Mom said...

you go girl! Send this thing to the media and all...
sounds like a terrible flight, esp if you had to transit too. I have been given an infant seat belt only twice - out of a half dozen flights - KLM I think it was. none of the others bother. but I've had a different kind of horror story with them, so I wont recommend them to anyone. am glad you're doing something abt this - I would have just ranted to no end to my husband and let it go...and suffer thru it all over again the next time. let us know if you hear back from Jet.

Inside Job said...

Jet's success has gone to the heads of their management!

Last few weeks they been running bad press on how many of their senior executives have left and how poorly they treat their pilots!

Better they catch the virus before the virus catches 'em!

Just Another Flyer said...

It is unfortunate you had a bad flying experience. Full disclosure: I do not work/represent any airline company. I have travelled many times from US to India with infant/small children. My kids are bit grown now :-). My honest opinion is that you did not prepare well enough for the travel and some of your expectations were unreasonable.

These aircrafts usually carry anywhere between 150 to 250 people, and there are only very limited bulkhead seats. It is not realistic to reach the airport and expect one of the bulkhead seats to be available for you. You should have called ahead and confirmed your seating / bassinet requirements. Airlines normally allocate the bulkhead seats to frequent flyers – as a privilege.

It is completely unreasonable to expect the crew members to hold, handle or manage your baby. Think extreme situations, if any harm comes to the baby while the airline staffs are holding the baby – you could sue them for millions. No airline staff will manage your baby – it is your responsibility.

Hope you plan well ahead for your future flights and have a safe and relaxed travel experience.

Here are some of the site that offer lots of information on traveling with small children


href="http://pregnancyandbaby.com/pregnancy/baby/What-a-trip-Air-travel-with-an-infant-3138.htm">http://pregnancyandbaby.com/pregnancy/baby/What-a-trip-Air-travel-with-an-infant-3138.htm



http://www.flyingwithkids.com/



Google for many more similar and informative sites.

Squiggles Mom said...

Just another flyer - Of course I was unprepared! If I had been prepared I wouldn't have been on that flight.
I had requested a bassinet seat through my agent who didn't inform me that there were none on the flight. But the point is even if there were bassinets available but there were more infants than bassinets, you cannot expect a mom travelling alone to sit in her seat, not eat, drink or visit the toilet. That is impractical.
I have been on flights before and after the incident and always the air hostesses have come forward to ask if I needed any assistance. They have even offered to hold Squiggles if I need to visit the loo. Of their own volition. They come and ask me when it will be convenient to have my meal. ANd help with taking things from the overhead compartment.
This is across airlines, both international and Indian, since I've been travelling like a maniac the last couple of months, I am in a position to compare.
Thanks for the links, I do appreciate your concern and if it helps I double check anything before travelling now. Of course, choosing to travel by airlines like Singapore Airlines means I do get great service.
The good thing about Jet was that they took the feedback and while they may not have agreed with everything I said, they made sure my return journey was uncomfortable. So, it gives me hope that they can sort themselves out to match customer expectations.

rachana said...

Hi!!!
I happen to be an ex cabin crew and stumbled upon ur comment while collecting some data on a infant seat belt. I was flying for SQ and it was mandatory to provide an infant seat belt to all the infants on board. I just can't fathom why the crew on board did not help u during the duration of the flight. It is really sad that the service levels have fallen so drastically.It takes a lot of courage to speak out and u have done that and in turn i am sure a lot of fellow travellers aware of the service they can expect if they travel with Jet.
I am a mom now so i can completely empathize with ur situation. The icing on the cake is however the Jet staff coming out with an excuse that they were not aware there was an infant booked on the flight. I think Jet needs to recruit some smarter staff who if cannot serve well, can atleast lie well. : )
P.S: I am partial to SQ bcoz i know that the safety takes priority over everything else and we were well trained to take special care of parents travelling with kids. So next time u travel try Singapore Airlines. It is a great way to fly!!!!!

Sympathy said...

Similar story on Jet Airways. Except, this time the baby died on board!

Aditya's Parent said...

If only I had seen your blog entry prior to our fateful trip with Aditya..
we certainly would have avoided Jet Airways.

Anonymous said...

Please sue Jet airways in singapore, which i suppose you can do it even now. this will force this company to ensure they do not mess up. Well jet is not known for great service but for good marketing. In india too one will not miss coming across arogant or overworked cabin crews.

Anonymous said...

I had a similar experience - promises of a bassinet from Jet Airways all along, but no bassinet once you reach the airport. This was for a trip from Newark to Chennai.
So we had a really long flight. It looks like Jet Airways has an issue with bassinets (check epinions.com). I will never fly Jet Airways again.
So anyone who wants to travel international with an infant and need a bassinet - Aviod Jet Airways at all costs.

Daipayan said...

Thanks for sharing your horrid experiences with Jet Airways. We were infact considering booking our Bi-Annual Trip from Los Angeles to India on Jet Airways, but now after reading your story we are determined not to patronize this horrible scumbag of an airline as we have a 9 month old baby boy and would not like to go through such pain.

Thanks for sharing your story. I will do my best to spread the word around among my family, friends and neighbours in the U.S.

Best Regards
Daipayan

Anonymous said...

I have a similar issue with Jet airways in that, even though we paid for a ticket for our child, they won't let us bring our FAA approved infant car seat onboard. This is incredibly stupid because I am doing all the lugging of the car seat, I am paying for an extra ticket and I should be able to place whatever I want in the seat as long as it meets the safety requirements. Its a 19 hour flight!

Can you please let us know what the chairman had to say? And also how did you find his contact details. I wrote their corporate communications guys and hopefully they will respond. But I want to write their chairman as well. If they do indeed prevent me from taking the infant seat onboard, My next step is to contact the FAA since FAA regulations state that an airline cannot prohibit customers from bringing on board an approved child restraint device if they have paid for a seat.

Well let's see what Jet responds with first. After seeing your post, I am less confident now that they will do anything about it.

Anonymous said...

We have been flying with children for almost 12 years. Three of them in fact. We have seen and experienced it all. From flight delays to ash clouds. Airlines boast about award winning service and the very best tech and equipment. They spend millions on training staff,on apparel and marketing etc. However in most cases they seem to forget that a percentage of passengers flying on-board are parents with infants and young children. The airlines most valuable cargo on board the aircraft are the infants they carry. Infants and children should be a priority just like the guys sitting in first or business class. Its seems like the airlines have adopted a "like it or lump it" attitude towards passengers travelling in economy especially parents with infants and young children. We are made to feel like a pain in the backside. Our children are an inconvenience. They are happy to charge extortionate fares perhaps a fraction of what you would expect to pay to travel in first or business class never the less we have paid and are not travelling for free. Not to forget that the fare you pay to travel in economy will generate a tidy profit for the airline. Flying an empty aircraft would simply haemorrhage money and is not good for business. Nevertheless time and time again we are let down by very poor customer service and snotty flight attendants who are simply in the profession for the money and the glamour. This is a new breed of flight attendant who have been programmed like a cyborg with whom you cannot reason with, they don't feel pity or pain. The people behind such monsters are the airlines! There objective is to look after the big fish who generate vast amounts of revenue and keep the share holders happy. Us parents are seen as dimes and not dollars! Would it really hurt to have dedicated staff committed to looking after an infants needs on-board a long haul flight??? I know of at least three airlines who offer this service, Gulf Air, Emirates and Etihad. Other airlines need to take note and follow suit. We travelled with Gulf Air with our 8 month old and 3 year old at the time. I can tell you hand on heart that the Sky Nannie's as they are known were fantastic. The service was only offered to us between London and Bahrain but boy did it make a difference. We were left to relax and enjoy the flight while the Sky Nannies took care of the children and there needs. I am sure that other airlines could implement this as part of the service but this would involve specialist staff and training which obviously cost the airline money. I appreciate the fact that this is a cut-throat industry but is it not a good thing to stand out and be ahead of the competition???