Exclusive: Jet Airways withdraws lounge access to Gold & Platinum members globally

One of the first people, when an airline is financially affected, are the people who work there. Then come the passengers. I’d listed a whole lot of things about how will Jet Airways react regarding cost rationalisation.

The acts of the past few weeks show that it is the turn of the passengers who are now on the frontline of bearing the brunt of the financial situation at Jet Airways. Here are the earlier episodes of how this is playing out for the customers and their passenger experience:

Late October, people who turned up as eligible for Lounge Access at Mumbai Airport, via their status or their ticket (Business/First) were all turned away by this innocuous looking notice.

a sign on a counter

Unfortunately, this happened just as Diwali traffic was picking up, which meant even more exposure and social media outrage. This was not only for the domestic lounge but the international lounge as well.

Jet Airways had not paid Mumbai’s Airport for lounge access, and as per news reports, the bill stood at a crazy INR 15 Crores ($2.2 million) outstanding or more. From there, there were no official statements from the airline, but they were quietly giving away eligible passengers JPMiles for the trouble they caused them.

Anyhow, I think that caused Jet Airways to fix one more end of the leaking financial bucket finally. And they decided against the customer.

Jet Airways has back in the day been off and on about lounge access to customers, and they are going to use their predictable playbook again. The lounge is an expense item, so it is also dispensable. In 2011, they took away +1 lounge access from Platinum members.  In 2012, it cut away lounges from many cities altogether. In 2012 itself, Jet Airways cut away lounge access for silver members later in the year.  In 2015, they brought back Lounge privileges, including +1 for Platinum members. In 2016, it cut away +1 access for Platinum members. Subsequently, they cut away Lounge access on Deal fares.

Here are the current lounge access policies and the stations where it is valid.

a screenshot of a email

a screenshot of a computer

Hereon, Jet Airways Gold and Platinum Members will no longer be able to access the Lounges at any Jet Airways station effective December 1, 2018. If you are travelling on a premium cabin ticket, issued in cash or miles, however, lounge access will be given to you. What does not work is when you upgrade your ticket to Premiere using cash, miles or vouchers since the privileges are on the back of your old ticket only. As per Jet Airways, this is temporary.

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The new policy is valid for everyone due to travel on December 1, 2018, regardless of when your ticket was issued. Here is the notice on the Jet Airways website.

Effective Dec 1, 2018 we have revised our complimentary lounge access policy for guests travelling in Economy.

  • Complimentary lounge access for JetPrivilege Platinum and Gold members travelling in Economy will be temporarily suspended.
  • Complimentary lounge access will continue to be provided for guests travelling in First Class and Première across our domestic and international network.
  • The revised policy is only applicable for guests travelling on flights operated by Jet Airways.
  • Silver tier members starting their journey or transiting through Abu Dhabi will not be able to enjoy complimentary lounge access at Abu Dhabi airport.
  • For travel on flights operated by our codeshare/interline partner airlines, lounge access will continue to be offered to guests travelling in First Class and Première as per the existing policy
  • Eligible elite tier members of our partner airlines will not be provided complimentary lounge access when travelling in Economy on flights operated by Jet Airways.

Guests travelling in First Class and Première from Mumbai can enjoy complimentary access to the lounge at Mumbai Airport with immediate effect.

Like you would note, Jet Airways has reinstated lounge access for First Class and Premiere passengers who are using the Mumbai Airport with immediate effect.

This is another unfortunate turn of events for passengers, and there is no other way to put it out. Fortunately or not, domestic travel for me is done for the year, unless something pops up last minute getting me to scoot out of my chair.

And while this affects Jet Airways, it also affects tonnes of lounge operators across the country as well who planned in Jet Airways’ projections while planning capacity. While I haven’t been to Delhi Plaza Premium Lounge since June 2018, preferring to go to the American Express Lounge instead, I had seen them expanding their lounge to be able to accommodate Jet Airways passenger flow.

How do you access the lounge now?

There are fortunately many other ways to get Lounge access. Here are some of the easier ways to get Lounge Access:

  • Your debit cards may have one or two lounge access included. Check with your bank
  • You can apply for a credit card to get lounge access. Here are a few good ones:
    • Jet Airways ICICI Bank Sapphiro American Express Credit Cards get you four free lounge access per quarter (16 per year). Lounge Access is available in Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Pune, Goa, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad. If you are Jet Airways Platinum, you get the card free anyways.
    • Jet Airways American Express Platinum Credit Card gets you lounge access as well to the Amex Lounge in Delhi, hopefully Amex Mumbai, definitely TFS Mumbai, Bangalore, Bhubaneshwar, Chennai, Cochin, Delhi, Hyderabad, Jaipur. You don’t have to be flying Jet Airways to be able to access the lounge.
    • American Express Platinum Reserve Credit Card gets you lounge access as well to the Amex Lounge in Delhi, hopefully Amex Mumbai, definitely TFS Mumbai, Bangalore, Bhubaneshwar, Chennai, Cochin, Delhi, Hyderabad, Jaipur. You don’t have to be flying Jet Airways to be able to access the lounge.
    • American Express Platinum Travel Credit Card gets you one free lounge access to 9 lounges around the country per quarter, making four lounge accesses free per year.
  • Alternatively, you can buy lounge access. If you expect to use a lot of lounges, sign up for the Priority Pass, going at a discount due to Black Friday today. It gives you access to 1200 lounges globally.
  • For individual lounge access when you need it, just head to Lounge Buddy and buy it.

What do you think of the latest move from Jet Airways? How does it affect you? We want to hear. Also, I am sure since Jet Airways reads this site very often, they would love to know too. Comment away.

About Ajay

Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

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  1. What is the lounge access situation is for Jet Privilege Platinum customers travelling on Etihad? Earlier, JPP members plus a companion had access to the Etihad first lounge in Abu Dhabi while flying Economy or Business, which was a significant incentive to choose Etihad on flights to US/Europe.

    • As a JPP member, I travelled recently (22nd December) with Etihad and was able to access both GVK lounge in Mumbai and the Etihad lounge in Abu Dhabi.

  2. So I flew this monday from mumbai. At their privilege check-in counter, the customer service agents are informing gold and platinum members that lounge access is not available.

  3. Jet Airways will loose loyal customers with this decision. There are plenty of options available & this is not a good step by them for the cost cutting.

  4. Jet Privilege is a cash rich company with a cash of USD150 Million in its book. Its different from Jet Airways and in order to tide over the crisis Jet Airways is planning to merge this company with itself. Why should Platinum/ Gold Members of Jet Privilege suffer for this mess. I agree both are inter connected but still they are distinctively different.

  5. My wife is travelling Mumbai-Singapore on Jet in business class today. She told me that Jet gave her some shabby lounge at international lounge, not the typical GVK East Lounge. I have used that same lounge with my most basic of cards and that lounge is nothing worthy of business class passengers. So the lounge coming back is just a part illusion. Also, there is no entertainment system in the flight. Air hostess says ‘Use Jet Screen’ – like really. One paid 1.5L for a return ticket to see a movie on a mobile when I can do that anyway on my laptop. Jet is going down!!!

    • I suppose your wife was flying the 737. Until recently, Mumbai-Singapore was the only 9W route ex-SIN which received the significantly better A330 on a regular basis. But even this route has not been spared from the financial cutbacks. I am sorry to hear about your wife’s lounge and flight experience. It must indeed be said that Jet Airways is a sinking ship.

  6. I am 9w Platinum. This month alone I have taken 4 9w flights & will be taking 5,6th as I am flying to Delhi on Monday/return Wednesday. Post that flight, I will travel Mumbai Delhi on Vistara. I may buy the Axis Bank card which gives me Gold status on ; the Vistara tier match may not work for me. The Jetairways co branded card banks will face brunt due to lounge charges they will have to pay, so I expect them to start withdrawing some of the lounge benefits on Co branded cards . Already we have IndusInd Odssey roll back some lounge benefits even before the whole saga got unearthed.
    I may end up traveling by Indigo even though I am scared of its ground staff

  7. Makes no sense to remove all privileges from loyal customers. Instead – Make the criteria to hold and attain Gold / Platinum a bit more difficult.
    This would ensure a bit more business

    • I think that there is still no option like Delta or Emirates that can take away the loyalty business. Air India doesn’t count, Vistara’s network sucks especially out of Mumbai.

      Jet’s redemption rate can be quite good if there are miles seats available. So still not complaining like crazy. But yes, downhill ride has started.

      • Agreed. I do think it’s great time for some airline to go aggressive with loyalty program.

        I mean, lounge to platinum and gold members, free upgrades if seats available during boarding, redemption as per industry benchmarks, not too much to ask considering additional business one can expect.

        Would love to hear from industry insider in terms of cost of acquisitions and maintaining such consumers and benefits against it and why more airlines are not going that route..

        Coz to me, from face of it, it feels benefits could be much more especially considering that many benefits could be at neglible extra cost to Airline.

        • your idea of a loyalty program is at least 5 years old and is America inspired. Airlines have moved to monetize upgrades around the world. why give a seat 5x the price free of cost? And if your ideas are America inspired, airlines don’t give free lounge access in the USA. Each one of them is a cost centre, and giving away seats is a profit centre gone. Why would people buy J if they knew they might get it free.

          • Fair enough, but my point still is, they are not monetized well.

            Whether you do via bidding or do via loyalty, that’s airlines call.

            Travelled yesterday in Jet, used upgrade voucher and got in Premiere and there were still 3-4 seats empty.

            Nowadays, most consumers don’t want to pay 5000-10000 extra for 1 hour flight with no other benefit except better seat and better food.

            So either make the proposition more attractive or monetize the same better.

            I mean of course it’s not perfect idea but basis the priority boarding, there were more than 5-7 Gold/Platinum consumers travelling in Economy.
            If I was jet, I would have just made an announcement once boarded inviting those members in front (depending on number of members, they can make it basis plats first and if more, possibly some type of criteria).

            And do it in front of all to make sure people are aware that loyalty pays ..

            Many passengers thought business class if only for VIPs, but could be for others too..

            And that’s just one example, the bidding idea they started has merit but again, make it better. Like keep the bidding value very low. Instead of not getting anything, let people bid and pay the value they feel. And chances are, you still might end up at decent value.

            And my whole point of original comment was, if some airline like Indigo/Spice starts the idea of some loyalty program, even if redemptions are not amazing, it could still get ahead a lot. Because in cities like Ahmedabad, etc, connectivity of these airlines are much more. And for few hundred rupees difference if I can get some benefits in future, I will pay that…

            It could be free meals to additional luggage coupons and what not .

            I am sure the industry experts are more aware of what is wrong with my thinking, but that’s what I want to understand. Considering cost of loyalty program does not look so high prima facie, why it’s not a good idea?

  8. Jet is digging it’s grave faster everyday. The people who were loyal and stood by them inspite of the drop in service levels and inconvenience are the ones who are treated shabbily. The last of the perks are also gone. How does jet expect it’s loyalty members to continue flying with them? I think it’s a very poorly thought out option to cut costs and it will affect it’s revenues going forward.

  9. Point number 1 I have mentioned in these columns that Jet is going low cost carrier way and it is proved right secondly in my opinion which also I have mentioned in this columns earlier, there was no need for lounge for frequent flyer as most of them have alternative card for lounge. point number 3 the upgrade voucher for non Platinum flyer is of not much use as they have to buy a High cost ticket even if cheaper fares are available.

  10. maybe you shouldn’t be still showing referral links for anything Jet Airways specific (the Amex ones are fine because those are generic products) when the viability and survivability of the underlying airline is currently in question, regardless of how the negotiations with Tata goes.

  11. A Staggerd approach would have been better Jet Airways with withdrawal of only Gold 1st. Platinum is your highest loyalty achievement. Someone who is flying that often to earn it deserves lounge benefit.

    What next? Will upgrade vouchers be taken away?

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