Shweta Shankar, 31, booked tickets on a Jet Airways flight from Chennai to Paris for a holiday with her husband she plans to take in September this year. The booking was done in January, at a time when it didn’t seem like the airline would have to shut shop. The tickets cost the couple about ₹80,000.
About a month later, she was advised by some of her friends that she should cancel her tickets as news started trickling in about the trouble with Jet Airways. “A couple of my friends who are in the news industry told me the situation was getting worse and suggested I cancel these tickets and book them on another airline,” said Shankar. Initially, she didn’t take her friends’ warnings seriously. But as weeks passed, and more and more Jet Airways flights started getting rescheduled and eventually cancelled, she made a decision. “This was our first foreign trip together after marriage so I didn’t want it to get disturbed because of what was happening with Jet. I decided to book tickets on another airline and cancel the Jet Airways ones,” she said.
India’s first private carrier Jet Airways flew last on Wednesday after the company announced that it would temporarily halt all its domestic as well as international operations amid a fund crunch. While the airline has been in news for its ongoing financial crisis for a while now, Wednesday’s announcement has left passengers like Shankar and members of the Jet Privilege programme in a state of confusion.
We break down what’s in store for the passengers who have booked tickets on the airline for a future date, those who bought travel insurance for their trips, members of Jet’s loyalty programme and holders of co-branded travel cards.
If you planned a holiday or business travel in advance and didn’t foresee the situation, it could leave you in a state of panic and disappointment. However, the airline has clarified that it would refund the full amount on all bookings made in due course of time.
If you booked tickets through the official Jet Airways website, mobile application or ticketing offices, all you have to do is fill up the online form or visit the airport or a city ticketing office.
In the case of bookings made through online travel portals or agents, refund request will have to be made directly through them.
While the Jet Airways website says it will take 7-10 working days for the credit to reflect in your account, expect a further delay because travel portals are already requesting a window of up to 40 days for the refund.
Last week, when Shankar called the travel aggregator to cancel the tickets booked on Jet Airways, she was initially informed that it would take about 15-20 days for the refund to come to her from the airline; after a couple of days, the aggregator again informed her that the refund could take up to 40 days. Note that most aggregators usually take 5-7 working days to process refunds. There’s still no clear communication from the airline as to how long it will take for them to disburse all the refunds.
Regardless, it is advisable for you to cancel your tickets with Jet and book into another at the earliest. Thankfully for Shankar, she moved fast and got herself and her husband booked on Oman Air at almost the same price for the same holiday dates.
Packing insurance becomes important, especially if you’re travelling abroad. If you bought one, will the travel insurance company compensate you for the loss?
While most insurers cover you for flight delays and cancellations, note that this may not be a typical case of flight cancellation.
“Most insurers who cover trip cancellation have very clear terms and conditions on what accounts for trip cancellation and those conditions don’t usually include airline insolvency. The insurance industry still has to take a call on this,” said Tarun Mathur, chief business officer-general insurance, Policybazaar.com, an insurance aggregator. “In default terms and conditions that are their upfront, such a claim will get rejected,” he added.
For your hotel bookings, which could also get disturbed due to flight cancellations, note that you can request a refund because most hotels accept cancellations with a notice period of up to 24 hours. If you’ve crossed the 24-hour window and are not eligible for a refund, filing an insurance claim is your only option. While most travel insurance policies cover hotel bookings, since this is a one-off situation and most insurers don’t cover for carrier insolvency, your claims may not get disbursed. “Typically if the travel is cancelled due to a medical emergency or a natural calamity then the non-refundable parts of your hotel, entertainment and others bookings are covered by the insurer. However, the Jet shutdown is a case of carrier insolvency, no claim is even attributable for a case like this,” said Mathur.
But it makes sense to clarify with your insurer at the earliest to get the best possible solution.
Most frequent travellers prefer carrying travel credit cards, for which usually the airline ties up with a bank. With Wednesday’s announcement, you could be worried about what happens if you own a Jet Airways travel credit card.
Bankers and card networks Mint spoke with said that they are awaiting further clarity because Jet Privilege continues to be operational and even the airline has stopped operations only “temporarily”.
“Note that a co-branded credit card continues to work as a credit card even if the sponsoring brand stops its operations or ceases to exist. Your card limit will remain intact,” said a banker, on the condition of anonymity.
A co-branded credit card gives you beneficial deals on a particular brand. This helps the brand as well as the bank in acquiring more customers.
“The temporary closure of Jet Airways will not impact cardholders of co-branded Jet Privilege cards. The reward points earned through these cards are managed by Jet Privilege Pvt. Ltd, which is an independent company and part of the Etihad Group. Hence, the existing cardholders will continue to earn and redeem JPMiles for booking flight tickets of partner airlines of the Etihad Group,” said Naveen Kukreja, chief executive officer and co-founder, Paisabazaar.com, a loan aggregator.
In its 26 years of operations, the airline became the favourite of many with a lot of multi-nationals tying up with the company for their travel needs. Jet Privilege, the airline’s frequent flyer programme, started in 1994, under which the company rewarded customers with JPMiles to make airfares affordable.
Over the years, you may have accumulated thousands of JPMiles and could now be wondering if they have all gone to waste. But there is good news on this front. Though you may not be able to use these for all flight tickets, there are other things for which you can use these points, such as purchasing merchandise from their reward store and fuel from select outlets, among others.
In a statement to its members, Jet Privilege said that the value of JPMiles would remain secure and intact. “Members have the choice to redeem their JPMiles to fly free across more airlines, any destinations, any flights, and any seats, in India and globally, starting with the same JPMiles requirement as before which was applicable to Jet Airways and its partner airlines,” said the Jet Privilege statement.
You will also be able to use your JPMiles on your hotel bookings, for the purchase of fuel and up to 2,500 merchandise options that are available on the Jet Privilege reward store. “You can use your JPMiles to buy goods and services at JetPrivilege Reward Store and earn and redeem JPMiles for booking hotels and buying fuel at select Indian oil outlets,” added Kukreja.
You could also redeem your JPMiles for Amazon vouchers at the Jet Privilege reward store and then use these vouchers to make a purchase through the e-commerce platform. Vaishnavi Nudurumati, 19, who is a Jet Privilege member, said she was able to get a voucher worth ₹500 for every 2,000 JPMiles she redeemed.
(This story originally appeared on Livemint)