One of my favorite benefits being a JetPrivilege Platinum member so far has been priority boarding along with Business Class, and ahead of general economy boarding. There are times when I don’t want to stand in the long queues on full flights and want to board the aircraft immediately. There are also instances when I want to be a little longer in the lounge, write that one last email, grab a bite and then board the aircraft at my convenience.
But all this is now a thing of the past. Jet Airways has introduced changes to its priority boarding process and now Jet Platinum & Gold members can no longer board the aircraft as priority customers. Instead the airline has chosen to enforce zone wise boarding and all passengers irrespective of their status will have to board the plane as per the zone number mentioned on their boarding cards.
When I first read about the changes, I was a bit disappointed but not too worried. After all it just meant waiting a little longer to board the plane, how much of an inconvenience could that be? Until yesterday when I finally got my first taste of zone wise boarding on 9W 305 on my way to Delhi.
Like always, I chose a seat in the first economy row 10. It gives me extra leg room and when travelling on work I like to hop off plane quickly and dash out of the airport. What I didn’t realize was that row 10 falls in zone 2 and when boarding it’s the last zone to board the plane. Like Ajay explained us all earlier, Business Class boards first, then they fill the plane back to front.
It was a delayed flight and there was already chaos at the boarding gate. The gate staff religiously followed the new boarding process by shouting out to passengers seated in zones 3 & 4 to come ahead and board the aircraft. I waited patiently until boarding for zone 2 began. And finally when it was time for me to board the aircraft the jetty was packed with passengers. This is a phenomenon we get to see on most delayed flights. In order to turn around the plane faster the gate staff start lining up passengers in the jetty even before the crew have given a clearance to board.
Then after trailing in the jetty for ten minutes when I finally got ṭo my seat, I realized that there was no space left in the overhead bins. Passengers who boarded before had used up all the space for their cabin luggage. I had no option but to stow my purse and my cabin bag at two different ends in the business class cabin.
Since it was end of boarding and crew were in a haste to get an already delayed flight off the ground, my request for water also went unnoticed.
Clearly, I don’t like this new boarding process and I don’t understand what Jet Airways was thinking when introducing this change. There are airlines that implement zone wise boarding but still invite their elites to board the aircraft at their pleasure. And while priority boarding may sound like a sham and unnecessary pampering, it’s a valuable benefit in a country like ours where passengers have little patience and crowd all around the gate even before boarding starts. I’ve been stuck in similar situations with Jet Airways in Goa and Abu Dhabi when I couldn’t get ahead to board the aircraft because the gate was crowded with everyone wanting to board the plane first. As a Jet Airways elite and as a passenger who chooses to give the spend a considerable chunk of her money to fly with Jet Airways, the least I expect out of the airline is a genuine attempt to make my flying experience seamless every step of the way.
I’m now thinking whether on my return flight should I choose a comfortable seat and go through the boarding pain again or slog it out at the back of the aircraft to board ahead and avoid the boarding chaos.
What has your experience been with the new boarding process? Me, I hate it.