After 2.5 months of being grounded (yes, I did not take a single step towards an airport in all of May and June 2011!), I had to warm up for the upcoming season. After being pestered a lot to participate in a conference being organised in Delhi, I finally said yes to going, in spite of the fact that there was a busy work schedule in Mumbai for me in the coming weeks before I took off on my vacation.
I booked myself on Jet Airways to take me to Delhi and back in Economy as is the usual. I wanted to be a little relaxed and not turn up in Delhi very late, so I chose to book a 7PM flight to Delhi. The travel agent gave me options, though I had already identified the flight and then it was a matter of going ahead and confirming that particular one. The interesting thing that happened here, was I was given K class fares on the ‘options’ email and I chose them, while when the ticket arrived in the mailbox, I was booked on an O class ticket. Basically, the TA decided that I can’t, or won’t change my travel plans and hence gave me a lower fare ticket which was non-refundable.
While the TA was just trying to save some money, it was a new problem (or not!) for me. Jet Airways usually gives away upgrade vouchers on tier status every year. Additionally, if you have the Jet Airways Citibank Credit Card (Platinum), you get one every time 8000 JPMiles worth of spend is accumulated on your CC (1 JPMile for 25 INR of spend, so, you spend INR 2,00,000/USD 4,700 per voucher) . These vouchers are valid for 1 year from the date of issue, and you can use them to request an upgrade @ 1 voucher for every 1500 miles flown as per the IATA distance measurements between 2 locations. However, for distances which are lesser, you need at least one voucher. So, BOM-DEL which is my most frequented pair, is 705 miles and I cannot use 1 voucher to do the entire trip!
I am usually pretty fine with an economy seat for short trips, as long as there is a good crew and I get the aisle seat in the front of the pack (the extra-legroom case). So in a ‘business-as-usual’ scenario, I would have been content since I would have been able to check-in to the front rows much in advance. The problem was an unutilized voucher hanging around in my brief case for a very long time. The last time I was traveling with 9w abroad, this voucher was on its way to the Jet office for renewal where they stamped ‘Final Extension’ all over the voucher to tell me that I should either use it or lose it this time around. This was going to expire on 31 August 2011, and 9W would not negotiate to renew it another time. Now, since when did I let a voucher go away unutilized, eh? But O Class is not usable for an upgrade, unless you are a Platinum with JetPrivilege, and I am a lowly Gold with them!
So after having the ticket booked, I emailed Jet Airways for an upgrade. I usually would call, but I was very busy and I did not want to be hearing the answer I was going to hear, a No that is, so I rather went about discussing this on email with them. I knew there had to be some negotiation on this one, but in the end it would work out or not, I did not know. As a normal procedure, they would ask me for the voucher details and then put me on the upgrade waitlist if they could not already confirm the upgrade. This happens 98% of the times [out of the hat number, don't sue me for that!]. However, what I heard from the Reservations team was thoroughly a professional canned reply and I could not debate it. However, it was clear that the person concerned was just doing their job, and not helping me out. When I tried pushing my luck a bit, a got a courteous reply again, but I saw them apologize for something they did not do! Here goes a small excerpt,
Further to your email, we regret and express our inability to give a positive response to your request for upgrade.
Kindly note the terms and conditions are also printed on the reverse of the upgrade voucher.
Please be assured that it never our intention to displease our privileged numbers and that we are committed to be more professional to live up to the expectations of our valued fliers.
Dear 9W, what do you mean by more professional, please explain to me? You are very professional in my opinion most of the times!
Anyways, I did not have much time on hand to use ‘this’ particular voucher because I was going to be travelling most of August outside India and hence this was the last chance. I hate to do this, but I eventually had to make some SOS calls for help. They told me they’ll see what they can do. At least that was a foot in the door!
At the beginning of this week, I called Jet Privilege again, to ask for an upgrade on DEL-BOM, which I got confirmed immediately and I blocked my favourite bulkhead seat on that. I gave them the voucher code (another one, not this contentious voucher) and 5 minutes later the booking showed along with my O class booking as a parallel D class booking on the same flight.
In the meanwhile, on the day of travel, people from Jet got back to me and told me this ‘final extension’ voucher could be used against my DEL-BOM trip on the return leg and that was confirmed. So, basically there was too much of confusion going around. Eventually, I made a recap of the statement of facts and linked the 2 requests to 2 different voucher numbers. I had a BOM-DEL upgrade waitlisted (the plane was full) and a DEL-BOM upgrade confirmed. With this, I was all set to go.