How the mighty (Jet Airways) have fallen
I’ve been delaying this post for the last 2 years. Hoping that I won’t need to. However, time after time, Jet Airways demonstrates how far they have slipped from the industry defining standard of customer service that they had introduced to the Indian flier.
It was some time in 1995, I had to fly from Bombay to Delhi. Upon checking with my agent for flight options, I found that Jet airways was the costliest ticket. On a whim, I called them up and asked the lady why this was so. With a great deal of confidence and pride she told me “Sir, we are the best. And once you fly with us you won’t think of this question.”
She was right. And for the next decade and more I flew only Jet Airways. I was a platinum member for the longest time. And their best ambassador. It wasn’t in the big things that Jet Airways impressed a customer but in the small details – the airhostess who’d switch on the light if she saw me reading – the cleanliness of the seats and aircraft – the willingness with which you received 4 packets of mouth freshener when you asked for one.
Today, I consciously avoid taking a Jet Airways flight and only opt for the airline if there is no other option. Why?
They are never on time anymore. They lack the simple courtesy of informing passengers about a delay, why there is one or how long they think it will take. And I am talking 20+ minutes.
The food quality is terrible. I am scared to eat the food because I worry how old it is and how bad the quality of the chicken and noodles are.
The aircraft is dirty, the seats are worse. Once I made the mistake of flying business class to Colombo from Mumbai and the seat was broken.
The pride, the confidence that one saw on the faces of the crew is missing. They look tired and defeated.
The last time I was checking in on a Mumbai-Singapore-Sydney flight, I was issued only the Mumbai-Singapore pass and asked to pick up the Sydney boarding pass in Singapore. Because there was an error on the system. When I argued it took less than 3 minutes to generate the boarding pass from another system. It’s a breakdown in customer orientation.
Naresh Goyal‘s dream is tarnished. Maybe he himself isn’t as involved anymore. His legacy and gleaming dream has no shine left.
I know the airline industry is in trouble. I know everyone is struggling. But what I cannot understand is how Low-cost Carriers like Indigo and SpiceJet can offer better service, on-time flights, better food quality at lower cost and Jet Airways, with a wider span and greater economies of scale, cannot.
I believe it has to do with focus, mindset, rigour and an uncompromising commitment to customer service. It has to do with the fundamental purpose of an organization, and the purpose cannot be financial survival (which is an outcome), organizations which have a purpose woven around the customer always come through good times and bad, in good shape. Which is something Jet Airways seems to have lost. Which is sad. I miss the service. I miss the energy. I miss the experience.
How the mighty have fallen.