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How the mighty (Jet Airways) have fallen

July 1, 2014

Jet Airways Boeing 737-800

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.



6 Comments leave one →
  1. Mohan permalink
    April 8, 2015 3:05 pm

    In fact this will be the view of the majority of the Jet Airways customers…….you have taken your time & expressed it in words, where as many would have not done either due to time paucity or they have reconciled to the fact that nothing is going to change – so why waste time…..I am sure many have slowly & steadily shifted to other airlines….I heard in my last flight some one saying that Jet will become the next Kingfisher…….lets see whether some thing happen if the people at Jet see these tweets & are interested in changing this image!!!

  2. Asha R permalink
    April 8, 2015 8:06 am

    Jet really is dangerous to fly with. There is one Captain named Zubin Major he suffered from stroke 2 years ago. As per DGCA standards its reason for permanent grounding for such crew however just because he happens to be son of retired air chief marshal fali major; he was given fitness certificate in no time and he is flying again. Its really a ticking timebomb waiting to explode.

  3. April 7, 2015 3:25 pm

    Thank you for sharing this Gurprriet. Sad to see a once great airline sink. Naresh Goyal has sold his soul and with it, the airlines integrity.

  4. August 8, 2014 11:27 am

    Hi Gurpreet, your article is a grave reminder that organizations need to re-think leadership as a multi-level set of skills rather than an individual pursuit. While entrepreneurs and visionaries can start a great organization and even lead it to its zenith of success, what keeps a great organization going is a network of leadership capabilities that sustains the organization’s mission, vision and cultural values.

  5. gurprrietsiingh permalink*
    July 2, 2014 9:47 am

    I know what you mean Hemant and it begins with a clear articulation of purpose viz. what do we stand for? Is the customer at the center of our world? Organizations that do this, see enduring success through good times and bad.

    Next time, fly Singapore Airlines. Trust me.

  6. hemant behal permalink
    July 2, 2014 9:40 am

    Gurprriet, I agree with you on Jet going down, and I also saw the decline, I also raise this question, when you build a credibility / standard how do you maintain it? OR do you get into the sheer spiral or arrogance that we are invincible , Deccan came and went, so did KF. I saw “arrogance “in the ground staff to the cockpit crew. Customer was not their focus, even a bottle of water asked took time…….. I recently flew MUM-S’pore- Mum in the business class, to my utter shock, the seat didn’t recline, the foot rest didn’t work, it was to be lifted manually, the food I ordered was not given… I guess it still holds true , how successful you might be as business leader you must “involved” with the business , which appear is not the case anymore. let’s see where do they go from here…….

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