When Jet Airways zone wise boarding got me groaning!

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.


  1. I think let us address this to their CEO or JP in charge as a united effort .This is going down day by day .

  2. This problem stems from the ill-conceived decision to fill the aircraft back to front. This is not the best or fastest method to board an aeroplane, and whichever Jet executive had the bright idea to do so hasn’t done his/her research properly.

    Allowing priority boarding to elites solves this problem for the elites, but screws over the poor non-elite who selected a seat near the front of the plane.

  3. Whoever gets an opportunity to get a Vip status, wherever, doesn’t want to leave it, why to blame politicians alone.
    Why should plat/gold ff should get a priority boarding.
    Are we paying more then other passengers. Rather we are paying less. We get reversal in kind of more points, lounge, priority seat selection and off course some times upgrade.
    Moreover presently flying jet whose service is going bad to worse is not out of choice but we do not have much option other then Air India and now Vistara,both of them have limited routes. In indigo whose fare are not less then Jet, one have to pay for seat selection and also food,if you want to eat.
    Hence stop cribbing and fall in line.
    Anyway I travelled delhi bangalore on 8th June, there was a separate entry for platinum, gold and premier.

    • I just experienced this today. Thankfully there are better options Vistara! I fly this airline every week. I have 3 more bookings the last being next Tuesday…then no more. Goodbye Jet airways

  4. I’m a JP Plat and have traveled on 3 flights from June 1 through today – travelling peak hours Fridays and a Monday – once Premiere and twice Coach Zone 2.

    It’s total chaos. The poor boarding crew scream at the top of their voice for 7 times now – “Zone 1 Premiere”, “Zone 4 Plat + Gold, Zone 4 – All…” and then “Zone 3 Plat + Gold….” You get the point.

    And in both Coach flights the last to board – Zone 2 were 60-70% Plats and Gold! Net result: Plats and Golds are downgraded below regular Blue and Silver JP!

    Making matters worse, in one segment the overhead bins in Zone 2 were mostly taken – and Plats and Golds were fuming!

    The only way to stop this?

    1. Make sure you give instant polite but firm feedback at Gate and to the crew. They’re being asked for inputs.
    2. Fill up your survey or send the below to guestservices@jetairways.com. Here’s what I sent them today
    The new boarding process has become completely chaotic since June 1. As a Platinum Zone 2 assigned seating, your new process forced me among the LAST TO BOARD! As a result, I had trouble getting space in an overhead bin! THIS MUST CHANGE ELSE A PLATINUM will leave.

    Here’s how Jet can fix the process: Create a Zone 2 for Plats and Golds alone. That way you can announce Zone 1 to board Premiere first followed by Zone 1 and 2, then Zone 1, 2 & 3 (where 3 is at the back of the aircraft) and so on. This is how all global airlines do.

    I do like Jet experimenting – they mean well to get to faster boarding. It’s just they don’t seem to get it right. A little leg up would help everyone.

  5. So you are getting paid by Vistara now for all the comments! I could see that coming from your neo delivery trip!

    None of your blogs gathered these many comments so far, and all of a sudden, this!


    • @NeutralFlyer

      That’s a preposterous accusation. Airlines frequently invite travel journalists and bloggers to events like the one Ajay covered. It’s a standard industry practice. The issue being raised in this post is genuine and has irritated every 9W FF. Having read the blog for a few years now, why you would feel this way is a mystery at least to me :-/

  6. This has to single most nightmarish decision by Jet Airways. If someone seated in rows 10-20 is not boarding early, they can forget getting opportunity to stow luggage in overhead bins. Also, the convenience of boarding fast now goes. I wonder why bother with Gold tier membership now, this was the only privilege and it too goes.

  7. No doubt priority check in counters will be next to go.

    I’m switching to another airline now after 10+ years using Jet and a platinum cardholder. It just seems pointless (no pun intended). Losing lounge access at my local airport (Colombo) was the last straw.

  8. Other airlines also implement zone based boarding. However First/Business and top tier elites are allowed to board whenever they want. Dividing small planes like 737’s into four zones and then enforcing zone based restrictions on priority boarding is effectively equal to removing priority boarding. What is perplexing about this move is that unlike other changes like restrictions on fare classes for lounge access, usage of upgrade vouchers etc, this change doesn’t help Jet save or make any money. Totally illogical and poorly thought out.

  9. This hardly surprises me, as over the last year Jet Airways has been taking away privileges bit by bit.

    1. First they restricted privileges on the basis of fare choice

    2. The in August they stopped allowing platinum members to take guest into the lounges. I had endeavoured to reach platinum status from gold primarily so I could avail this privilege, then it was withdrawn as soon as I got my card. As I regularly travel with colleagues or family, this has big implications.

    3. Just last month they completely barred all Gold/Platinum card holders from accessing the lounge in Kathmandu, Dhaka and Colombo. Why this random decision was made I have no idea! As these are the airports I will look into the status swap with Vistara, although they don’t fly to these airports. Does anyone know if Air India offers a similar scheme?

  10. It’s been 10 year I am flying with Jet Airways. I have seen the transition from 100 to let’s say 20 – 30. Every services has gone bad. Starting from checking to food till deboarding. Now I am mostly avoiding Jet and moving to Vistara or Indigo.

  11. Jet airways is really going from bad to worst. There is no point remaining loyal to jet airways.
    Slowly they are taking all benefits of jet platinum members. As a loyal jet platinum member we all need to protest. It will be all unheard. Let god save the jet airways.

  12. One of the benefits of Platinum and Gold, while travelling on economy, was priority boarding. Now it is not there. So what is the benefit in getting elite status? Or even what is benefit for being loyal to Jet?

    I’m flying today from Kochi to Ahmedabad via Mumbai. I wonder if they have changed lounge access also.

  13. No good is left being JP member; they dont value loyalty anymore. Its all abt quantity. Wr should opt for other airlines. Vistara is doing good. So are there services.

  14. I did not find this to be the case. They still ask Platinum members to board ahead of the others. This is from ky experience of last three flights between Del-Mum in last week (9w340).

    • @Arun, this policy change has been implemented as of June 1. So I invite you to share your new opinion after 1 June when you have the opportunity to try out the new boarding system. I hope of course by the next time you come on a 9W plane, this system is discontinued.

  15. Oh no! I am an elite! I cant wait at the airport for a few minutes. My time is so valuable!
    Jee, just choose a different seat next time

    • @IKnowYouWontPublishThis So why bother : Oh no! I am an elite ! My time is valuable and that’s why I promise you over 90% of my flying business every year. So next time don’t change the benefits you commit on adhoc basis and make my life miserable.

    • If you travel about a 100 flights a year, then 10 minutes a flight is 15 hours per year of ou,r lives. When I mentioned this to Jet Airways they themselves appreciated I brought the magnitude of this problem to their attention. I don’t think it’s unfair to expect “I can’t wait at the airport…” as you appear to dismiss casually. My sense is they want to “listen” but they just don’t have leadership bandwidth to make the right and impactful decisions.

  16. Well said. Very honestly Jet Airways is going from bad to worse. After they sold their jet privilege, it’s just gone downhill. It’s not fare choices but more like unfair choices. You’re now as good as buying the miles instead of being awarded them. They are following the low cost principle and have a feeling they will soon become a low cost.

    If you’re a platinum or gold on jet, you can transfer that to Vistara and keep the same status. Much better than jet.

  17. 10A/F has now gone from being a preferred seat to a nightmare seat! What a sham.

    Dreading the boarding for my flight on 6th June!

  18. I agree with Kushi. Being Platinum with Jet Airways is just a sham, there are hardly any benefits, upgrades against miles or vouchers if not available in the flight inventory as is the case several times plats dont get any priority. I was other day comparing elite priviliges of airlines like BA, Lufthansa and Virgin they give so many benefits to their elite flyers Jet is no comparison. As a BA Gold member if you fly economy in any of its flights, the cabin services director comes to your seat in economy before takeoff and acknowledges your presence and asks if you need anything special etc during the flight. In Jet the supervisor will hardly move beyond the section behind the cockpit or if at all stroll just a few seats in business. Their deal fare choices you cant upgrade on international sectors against miles or vouchers even if you are Platinum. Platinum should have been exempt from that rule. Thats a very big low. Jet product and quality is down. They dont know how to treat elites.

  19. I agree with Khushi. I’v been avoiding Jet since last 6 months. They made it easier for people to qualify for the elite tiers, and now diluting the benefits.

    Have been sampling Vistara ( became a gold through Jet status match and a play by taking 12 flights in next 3 months) since start of this year. However, the experience has been mixed. It’s good if all goes well, but customer service drops to a new abyss in case of IRROPS.

  20. It’s not just boarding. Jet is gradually diluting its loyalty program and services. And they have gone too far. Free tickets that come with credit cards go waste because they are never available. Not even 6 months in advance.

    Reduced the number of miles you earn significantly recently.

    Food is just pathetic esp on non metro flights. Got soggy rolls on 5 jet flights back to back.

    Almost every jet flight is delayed now.. have been flying a lot lately.

    • Very true. JP program is just an eyewash…Still they want us to vote for JP in Freddie awards…Time to move on. Clearly they are following Air India’s legacy.

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