Guest Post: When Airlines take the moral high ground

This post is brought to you by AJ (Live From A Lounge) while Jason is out with two broken wrists and a microphone. Keep an eye out at MilesQuest for future guest posts by other Boarding Area bloggers.

 

I am not a fan of someone else taking decisions for me, be it the big ones like which party to vote for, or the small ones like what should I eat or drink. When an airline tries to do that, it could specially be more troublesome, because they are your service providers, and when they start taking decisions, it is seeking trouble.

One of my favourite airlines, Jet Airways, is doing exactly that and getting into trouble repeatedly. I was taken by surprise when a friend who lives in Goa, India’s favourite beach destination, informed about Jet Airways requesting him to bring out a package of delicious crab-meat he was carrying for friends in Mumbai, before they could load his luggage on the belly of the plane. He wasn’t sure if he was the only one so played ball, but seemed like Jet Airways was using this trick with enough residents of Goa to ask for trouble and requesting to abstain from flying Jet. Owned by a vegetarian entrepreneur, this is the first time I heard personal choices being imposed on the airline. The modified policy, which I access via the news media report, stated:

effective June 27th, 2011, there has been a policy revision wherein carriage of fish, crab, sea food, meat and poultry products will be prohibited as check-in baggage

This first got reported in the local media, and of all places, New York Times  picked it up. The airline claimed to have put in place this guideline to ensure such products do not lead to seepage and damage of luggage. However, pray tell dear airline, how did you let go the tin of Indian sweetmeat I carried in my bag in July 2011 in my trip to Delhi.

The hue and cry raised did force them to modify their policy again, and they issued a media statement in November about not wanting to hurt the sentiments of anyone and how the whole thing was a well-thought out move. As you’d read at the end of the NYT piece, 9W refused to speculate how vegetarian pickle would not cause damage but delicious sea-food would.

And while I was getting over this, I came across a case of 2009 where a flight attendant, again with Jet Airways, refused a Canadian female passenger on a Bangkok-Delhi flight a ‘rum drink’ on the grounds that she was a woman. BBC reports that the female passenger took them to court. The FA did pass of her personal policy as the airline policy, but again, another instance of personal beliefs being imposed on passengers took the airline down as one with a regressive line of thought. Guess what, the court has now ordered for compensation of US$ 1000 to the passenger, and this will no doubt turn out to be one very expensive drink for the airline.

(In all fairness to the airline, I did try to look for a copy of the judgement, but not able to find it yet on the website of the court. If someone succeeds in finding this one, please send me a link!)

Readers, do let us know at BoardingArea if you think customer is king or not?

 

 

Enjoy these other Guest Posts while Jason recovers, and wish him a speedy recovery:

 

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Comments

  1. Hope Jason is well soon!

    My opinion? In both of the situations cited (not allowing meat products because of the owner’s vegetarian beliefs and not allowing a woman a drink because she’s a woman) … no, I believe the airline overstepped their bounds. One has every right to their beliefs, but when providing such a widespread public service as transportation … well … I don’t believe it’s right for them to impose their beliefs on travelers. If I don’t want to serve a segment of the population, or don’t wish to do service in a certain way, then my business should be one that allows me discretion. Providing air travel doesn’t, in my opinion.

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