When Jet Airways became my soup nazi!

Update (October 29, 2013): I got a call from Jet Airways this morning. Standard call letting me know that they will definitely look into it, but what made a BIG difference is that the lady start with, ‘I completely understand what you went through because I was on an lunch-hour Jet flight too earlier this week and went through the same experience’! I do not want to be cynical and assume that it is expertly scripted – I just like the fact that this simple nuance to add empathy is rather effective. I’m glad that Jet Airways acknowledged a customer’s concern and bothered to call and explain… and promised to set things right. Good start, that!

Original post:

So I lost my cool and ranted on Twitter, yesterday. I’m not happy with what I did and I’ll remember to not be that impulsive in the future.

This is what happened.

I was flying from Bangalore to Chandigarh, via Delhi, for a social media workshop for ISB alumni in Mohali. The Jet Konnect flight was slated to take off at 12:50pm and it took off on time too. I usually avoid Jet Konnect owing to their more-than-usual cramped seats, but there was no other flight available that was convenient from a time point of view, so had to opt for this one.

For a 12:50pm flight, I’d need to board around 12:10pm or so and that is what happened anyway. That leaves us with no time to have lunch at the airport and to trust the airline to ensure that there is food available, for a price, of course, given this is a budget airline.

nosoupAround 1:15pm, the in-flight folks started serving food. I was on the darned row 22 – bang in the middle. By the time they served other rows and came to the middle rows (4-5 rows in the center), it was already 2:30pm. And worse, there was no decent food left, barring peanuts, cashews, juice and cookies!

Now, I’d assume that a decent meal (I’m usually completely ok with a sandwich) is a basic requirement for a flight flying during lunch hour, but the good folks at Jet Konnect perhaps did not think so. Or, they did not prepare adequately to stock enough food.

Since there was no food anyway, and since I was not the only one going hungry, I did not want to escalate my annoyance by shouting at them or creating a scene. There is simply no point because that won’t help in any way.

The only way I could make a point was when the flight landed in Delhi, at 4:00pm. There was a 30 minute stop-over and I took to Twitter to rant about JetKonnect’s callous treatment. I did not address it to Jet Airways handle on Twitter initially because it was not intended at them – it was ideally intended to others who may be planning to fly a similar Jet flight during lunch hour and could be prepared better. I could also imagine some of them traveling with kids and their plight would be far worse.

But, some of the people who saw my tweets tagged it to Jet Airways on Twitter, and I tagged them too, eventually.

And then, they promptly asked me what was wrong.

I asked them to take alook at my timeline, clearly not in a mood to explain it all again. They did and merely asked me if the on-board catering has started again!

Now, how do I care? Or, why should I care if their catering service entered the flight in Delhi or not? All I know is that I was forced to go hungry. And that they did a super shoddy job of planning for stock. If Jet Airways was keen on resolving the issue, the least the team managing Twitter could do is to contact the folks in the flight and send a sandwich to me (my name is on my Twitter handle; won’t be difficult to find from a list of passengers flying that day – they even know I’m in Delhi for the stop-over) – I’d gladly pay for it too; I don’t want free lunches. I’d obviously be pissed off – yes – but the gesture to connect my tweet to solving a problem would at least give me some hope that they do care.

IndiGo did something like this sometime back. Someone in my Twitter timeline was stranded in Kolkata airport and was seeking directions to the IndoGo counter there. I had retweeted it and got a call within 10 minutes asking me what was wrong. I explained it to them and asked them to contact the right person.

Kingfisher did this too, sometime back. I had complained (not serious!) about the same movies being repeated in the in-flight entertainment system because I was lfying almost eevry single day that week. But they took note of that tweet and actually tweeted to me back saying that the movies in my flight the next day (they noted all those nuances, including that I’m was flying them again the next day) would be new, because that was a Friday and they change movie lineup that day!

In both cases, there seemed to be a concerted effort to coordinate between multiple divisions, in order to resolve a query or a concern.

In Jet’s case, it looks like a social media agency is at the helm of affairs, and they haven’t been given enough power or authority by Jet Airways to make things happen to actually resolve things on ground. Or, the agency (or the internal team managing social media) hasn’t thought through it at that level and assumes that all issues can be resolved in its own sweet time. This is social media management eyewash – a broadcast-style management of social properties that doesn’t really help the brand. I’d love to see Jet Airways take some steps towards being a social business given they are such a huge service brand, instead of sending press releases for reaching vacuous milestones like 150,000 Facebook likes.