Long long time ago, in 2008 or earlier, some genius inside Jet Airways, and I don’t mean it in a sarcastic way, figured the best way to reduce the crowd at the airport check-in counters was to incentivise people to check in via computers. And the incentive, they figured, was a bunch of extra miles. They started to award 250 bonus miles per sector to everyone who ever checked-in on a domestic or international flight via their website or kiosks (and SMS back in the day) on Jet Airways, and 125 bonus miles per sector for those using JetKonnect/JetLite.
I’m assuming it worked well to influence the behaviour of people who travel with Jet Airways and JetKonnect and encouraged them to move to alternate channels for check-in. Over the years, other bottlenecks got sorted as well, such as the need for a stamp on web check-in boarding passes from the airline.
This was always a generous bonus, which Jet Airways continued to give for over 6 years, and I think most of the travelling population expected it to continue forever. However, I was always wondering, the shift to web checkin must have gone from 0-1% of travel to maybe 30-40% or even more over the years, so when would this bonus stop? My 30-40% assumption is based on the number of seats blocked in a plane when I have tried to check in a few hours before the flight over the years and is an assumption.
Anyhow, I figure the airline has now figured that the habit of the travellers to check-in ahead has been formed and people see the convenience of web/kiosk check-ins. So, this afternoon, I received a harmless email which stated:
Effective April 01, 2014, 250 / 125 Bonus JPMiles rewarded on Jet Airways / JetKonnect respectively, for availing web and kiosk check-in services, will be withdrawn. However you can continue using the self service check-in options for your future travel.
Of course, I will continue to block my seats and web check-in rather than go to the airport and play a game of dice to get a good seat on the plane. It is so much more convenient to be able to web check-in and see the seatmap in front of you rather than have an agent tell you what seats are still open. In fact I fret when I have a Jet Airways flight booked as a JetKonnect codeshare and I can’t web checkin for it.
Some people have linked this to the separation of the JetPrivilege program from an in-house program to a separate company which will be majority owned by Etihad. My view is that this bonus was going to go away some day anyways, and if this sale of program is the tipping point, even then I won’t hold it against them. Those miles were sweet, but all good things come to an end! Remember, they’ve also upped the mileage earning from 20% on deep discounted fares to 100% on all fares 2 years back, so overall more miles for you.
Does this mean that the miles for online purchase of tickets directly from Jet Airways or JetKonnect website will go away? I don’t expect this to happen. Airlines have to compensate travel agents for generating business, and if 500 miles/sector got them a direct reservation, that I believe is a small trade off for the customers to come to them directly. And remember, their competition Air India is also rewarding customers with 500 miles per sector for direct website bookings.