Jet Airways rejected our mobile boarding passes — is this fair?

When Jennifer Gonsalves and a friend, Janine Balistreri, checked in online the night before a scheduled domestic flight from Mumbai to Aurangabad, India, on Jet Airways, they thought they were all set.

Actually, they were not.

A Jet Airways representative rejected their mobile boarding passes and sent them back to check-in. By the time they got their paper boarding passes, they were unable to make it back to the gate in time to take off.

This tale of two stranded travelers could easily have been avoided had Gonsalves been familiar with Jet Airways’ policy that all boarding passes must be printed from a kiosk at the airport and that check-in at the counter must be at least 45 minutes prior to departure for domestic flights. When Gonsalves and her friend arrived at the airport, the check-in counter for their flight was already closed.

As a result, she and her friend had to purchase new tickets at a higher fare for a later flight. Gonsalves emailed Jet Airways and complained that there are “clearly no instructions on the mobile boarding passes” that they have to be printed out at the airport or that passengers must arrive at least 45 minutes prior to the flight or they will be denied boarding.

A Jet Airways customer service official replied that mobile boarding passes had to be scanned from a kiosk at the the airport and reprinted to a paper boarding pass. He added that it was “standard procedure that we close all kinds of check-in 45 minutes before the domestic flight.”

After she had been rebuffed by Jet Airways, Gonsalves reached out to our advocacy team and noted that she had “complained” to Jet Airways about the issue.

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“They continue to insist that we should have looked at their website and accompanying email to print the boarding passes beforehand,” she says, adding, “We have used mobile boarding passes worldwide and never had a problem boarding a flight with one.”

Gonsalves said she asked Jet Airways for a “complete refund” of the denied boarding ticket and compensation for the higher fare she subsequently purchased, which she valued at $510. She asked our advocate: “Can we get full compensation based on the facts or was this our fault?”

After reviewing an extensive paper trail of emails between Gonsalves and Jet Airways’ customer service officials, our advocate concluded there was nothing we could do to help.

He noted that Jet Airways’ online check-in procedures require passengers to print out their boarding passes at the airport and have their IDs checked, neither of which Gonsalves and her friend did.

As our advocate noted, Gonsalves should never have assumed that any given airline’s mobile ticketing procedures would be the same as those of other carriers. In fact, travelers should be familiar with an airline’s ticketing and check-in procedures and also arrive at the airport early enough to resolve any issues that might come up prior to departure.

Also, Gonsalves could have checked Jet Airways’ executive contacts on our website if she had any concerns or questions about Jet Airways.

Jet Airways refunded a “no-show charge” to Gonsalves before she contacted our advocacy team, and an airline official said he “deeply regretted” that Gonsalves had an “unfortunate experience” with Jet Airways.

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Although Gonsalves now admits she learned her lesson “the hard and expensive way,” we’re sorry we couldn’t help.

Michael Hinkelman

Michael Hinkelman is an award-winning journalist with more than 35 years experience. He has worked for daily newspapers in Atlanta and Philadelphia, most recently as a small-business columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News, before retiring in 2016. In 1993, Hinkelman won a prestigious Gerald Loeb Award for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism for an investigation into the finances of the Atlanta Public Schools. In 2016, he was a lecturer in media relations at the University of Pennsylvania's Fels Institute of Government. Read more of Michael's stories here.

  • Inquirer1111

    I would not have known this for JetBlue, so appreciate this post letting me know.

  • Bubbles

    It’s not for JetBlue..? It’s in India. Jet Airways.

  • jim6555

    Huh?? This posting is about Jet Airways, a domestic carrier in India. It has nothing to do with JetBlue, an airline whose service area is North and South America.

  • SirWIred

    What does the e-mail/pass look like?

    I have to say, if they want to issue “Moblie Boarding Passes” that are really just things to help the Kiosk recognize you faster, it should be in gigantic type all over the e-mail and the “pass” itself: “NOT VALID FOR BOARDING! PRESENT THIS QR CODE TO A CHECK-IN KIOSK IN THE TICKETING AREA OF THE TERMINAL TO PRINT A PHYSICAL BOARDING PASS!”

  • Dan

    Jet Airways used to fly to the US. It certainly got confusing at an airport like Newark where Jet Airways and JetBlue both operated. I wonder how many people showed up at the wrong ticket counters.

  • MarkKelling

    Yeah, don’t call it a “boarding pass” if you can’t board the plane with it.
    I always print out a paper copy of my boarding pass no matter which airline I might be flying. There have been too many times when there were issues at the airport with the reader device where those with paper passes were allowed through security, for example, and those without had to go and get a printed pass.

  • Dutchess

    I love mobile boarding passes, I probably would have been caught by this one. Sounds like the airline needs to put a note on the electronic boarding pass that a printed version is required. Better yet, don’t call it a boarding pass if it isn’t a stinking boarding pass!!

  • Annie M

    If she had arrived at the airport the recommended three hours before her flight was to leave – she would have had plenty of time to go back and get a printed boarding pass. It soundslike she simply didn’t leave enough time to arrive.

  • Bill___A

    “A Jet Airways customer service official replied that mobile boarding passes had to be scanned from a kiosk at the the airport and reprinted to a paper boarding pass. He added that it was “standard procedure that we close all kinds of check-in 45 minutes before the domestic flight.”

    Well, as far as getting a mobile boarding pass and having to get a paper one, that’s outrageously bone-headed, if you can’t use a mobile boarding pass, they should not issue them. Period. That’s on Jet Airways 100%. However, showing up late is on the travellers, 100%.

  • Lindabator

    Actually – it does. She just didn’t pay any attention

  • Lindabator

    Thy don’t – it clearly stats you must use the code to print out your pass at the airport — sh just chos to ignore the reading part

  • Lindabator

    thy do – it clearly states to go to the kiosk and print out the pass needed

  • Lindabator

    This is to ensure you go to the checkin desk area, and not just float over to the gaet — which she did

  • C Schwartz

    I still print out my boarding passes at the airport. It is not that I am a technological dinosaur but I do not want to run the battery of the phone and even more importantly I do not want there to be any problems with reading the mobile pass; I have had too many issues with digital coupons and other bar coded payments –the stores blamed the contrast on my phone, the screen protector, and I cannot remember what else.

  • Noah Kimmel

    Before everyone slams Jet for this, do note the following.
    First, the obvious one – Jet is not JetBlue. It is an India based carrier that does not serve the US directly, but does have a partnership with Delta.
    Second, mobile check in is used to select your seat and purchase upgrades, hence the value over just waiting until the airport.
    Third, If you have never flown in India, it is a bit different than other parts of the world. India Security regulations require proof of flying to get into the airport front doors – without a copy of your itinerary or mobile BP, they won’t let you in. This shocks a lot of Americans.
    Paper boarding passes have to be stamped at security and collected for flight boarding as paper verification to backup computer. If you did mobile check-in, there are priority lines to print. This issue is not isolated to Jet, it is all flights in India. I have had the same on Air India, Air France, and Singapore Air.
    As for Jet communicating to the customer, it is all over their website, but obviously not clear enough in the App. I didn’t go through Mumbai, but have taken a few trips domestic and international in India through Delhi, Bangalore, and Kochi. The security people all ask for the paper so they can stamp it. Not sure how the OP made it through otherwise.

    I do wish Jet was better at helping the customer and glad they waived the no show fee. As a reminder – when travelling internationally, show up early and ask questions! Given the manual nature of airports in India, it is surprising no one said anything.

  • Noah Kimmel

    India Security requires a ticket to get into the airport doors. Mobile gets you inside the airport. But you need paper to get through security and on a flight. After a few India trips, I am surprised no one told her, they are generally good about informing travellers and usually extra careful with foreigners

  • Kevin Nash

    Great information re: flying in India! Thank you for sharing.

  • Kevin Nash

    I also print out paper boarding passes, either at the airport or from my printer at home. I just like to have a backup in case my phone battery dies, the scanner can’t read the mobile boarding pass, etc.

    Better safe than sorry.

  • Alan Gore

    The idea of mobile boarding passes is relatively new, but any airline that implements mobile passes should automatically accept a displayed pass as being valid for travel – though this might not necessarily apply to a given country’s airport security. But when a mobile pass is not acceptable at security, you generally find out in time to go back to the ticket counter and get a printed one issued.

    This case strikes me as being another one of those “find a reason to invalidate a perfectly good ticket so we can screw a passenger into having to pay an extra walkup fare in addition to her current booking” arrangements. You’re not going to convince me that there aren’t carriers which evaluate their gate agents on how many of these extra fares they can manufacture.

  • Bill___A

    Still, a document called a “boarding pass” is not appropriate to use on a mobile phone if it cannot be used as a “boarding pass”. Although I do not wish to debate the intricacies of flying in India, quite seriously, they need to do it differently than this. Although I appreciate the explanation, it just points more directly to the matter that the airline and the country need to get their act together in this regard.

  • Michael__K

    Where? Here is Jet Airway’s own photo of their own “Mobile Boarding Pass”—.

  • Michael__K

    The link in the article to (supposedly) Jet Airway’s online check-in procedures is broken.
    It appears the link is intended to reference this page on e-ticketing terms & conditions (which does not address the mobile process at all):

    It looks like the relevant info is on the mobile check-in page, which is poorly written and confusing (besides including an image of a phone with a “Mobile Boarding Pass”):

    Mobile check-in is available for:

    > Guests holding a valid Jet Airways booking reference (PNR), purchased directly with us or through a travel agent.

    > A maximum of 9 guests per PNR and Group PNRs with a maximum of four segments.

    > Guests holding a valid and confirmed eTicket only.

    > Guests departing from an airport which is online with our check-in system. Please click here to view the list of cities and airports where Mobile check-in is available.

    > Guests travelling with child and / or infant.

    > Guests booked on onwards codeshare and Interline flights.

    > Guests fulfilling the check-in time window criteria (Please refer the below check-in window table).

    > Re-print of boarding pass at check-in counter or Kiosk has to be completed before counter closure time.

  • C Schwartz

    Thank you for the explanation.

  • BubbaJoe123

    Do you have an image of this?

  • C Schwartz

    It is confusing because the mobile boarding pass is not truly a boarding pass that can be used. However the information is available on the website;

    I guess the lesson of this is to arrive early in unfamiliar foreign airports.

  • BubbaJoe123

    Yeah, burying the “Re-print of boarding pass at check-in counter or Kiosk has to be completed before counter closure time.” part at the bottom of that list of requirements is really hiding it.

  • Michael__K

    “Mobile check-in is available for… re-print of boarding pass…” Okay…. Without knowing this story what does that mean exactly? And if you already checked-in and already have a document called a “Mobile Boarding Pass” then how would you know this whole section even applies to you?

  • C Schwartz

    If she did not get through security then the travelers must have cut it very close

  • C Schwartz

    I just looked at the Air India website. As Noah Kimmel mentioned below, it is mandatory to have a printed boarding pass on a domestic flight at this point. The Bureau of Civial Aviation Security has not approved any of the various methods that have been tested since 2013.

  • C Schwartz

    The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security has not approved any of the methods that were tested. The airline cannot force the government to change — it seems they have tried several times with pilot and programs that went nowhere.

    I suspect the mobile boarding passes work on international flights going into India, which is why there is a program for them.

  • C Schwartz

    I had to look this up. It is domestic security Bureau of Civil Aviation Security that requires the paper copy.

    Air India has the same requirement. Their website in English is more comprehensive.

  • BubbaJoe123


  • Bill___A

    Shut ’em off where they can’t be used. United does.

  • Harvey-6-3.5

    Not according to the image in the post by Michael_K above.

  • Alan Gore

    And then using a broken link on the site to prevent even the most rule-licking pax from ever reading that line at the bottom. I haven’t even heard of Spirit pulling this one.

  • BubbaJoe123

    Where does it state this? The screenshots of the mobile “boarding pass” on Jet’s website don’t state it.

  • Blamona

    In a foreign country, that has usual power outages, internet outages, and communication problems, why would they cut the arrival of airport so close that they couldn’t print them in time? I’m sorry, but Smartphones don’t solve things in foreign airports most times. Just because it’s easy in other countries doesn’t mean it’s easy at all countries, and they have a right to conduct business as Indians do, not to convenience Americans.

  • The Original Joe S

    But if it ain’t in the e-mail, then it don’t exist, now does it? How is the traveler supposed to know that he has to go “look it up” somewhere?

  • The Original Joe S

    No, MS negative does NOT have an image of this. Ms negative just about ALWAYS takes the side of the scumbag against the customer.

  • The Original Joe S

    OK, I’ll shop elsewhere. You lost a sale.

    Make this statement to the MANAGER / OWNER, not to the useless clerk who doesn’t give a rat’s tail.

  • The Original Joe S

    Well, I guess I’ll not go to India. I can go to the local 7-11, and the nice guy there will ask me “You are wanting a doughnut with that coffee?” Makes me feel like I’ve been to Injuh! Ha ha ha ha!

  • The Original Joe S

    Untied does something RIGHT?

  • The Original Joe S

    You got it right!

  • The Original Joe S

    Or Mobile “GOTCHA”.

  • The Original Joe S

    SHUT UP, ALAN! Don’t give them any ideas!

  • Noah Kimmel

    what’s with the trolling? racist responses like this one, or angry belitting of people by calling them “incompetent toads” on the WOW article is really beneath you and the other commenters here.

    We come to this site to learn, help each other, and show respect for the individual, even when they make mistakes. Grow up

  • The Original Joe S

    Yeah, they have a right to be jerks, morons, incompetents, medieval, etc etc etc. One should realize that when going to McHindu-land.

  • Dutchess

    It says NOTHING of the sort. Here in fact, it says “Mobile boarding pass printed on paper will NOT be accepted.”

  • Dutchess
  • joycexyz

    Where technology is concerned, always have a Plan B. In the case of boarding passes, have a print copy available. I’ve witnessed passengers whose mobile passes won’t scan. They get pulled out of line, and I don’t know what happens next. I’m not a Luddite (I have a Masters in Information Systems), but I know that sometimes a paper and pencil are the tools of choice (or in this case, a paper copy).

  • Alan Gore

    It’s easy to always have a printed pass on the outbound journey, but it isn’t always possible to print a pass before starting a return – in the US, let alone in India. A standardized mobile pass, acceptable at security, would heal many wounds.

  • BubbaJoe123

    Disqus has an excellent “Block User” function which was created exactly because of people like The Original Joe S.

  • joycexyz

    We’ve traveled extensively and have never had a problem getting boarding passes printed at a hotel. I’ve never been to India, but I don’t believe they’re so backward. The other option is getting the boarding passes at airport check-in. The real problem here is that they didn’t read the instructions telling them to do the latter. It’s a mystery why that airline issues mobile “boarding passes” that are not really boarding passes.

  • cscasi

    Probably not a lot if people know who they are flying on and pay attention ot what is on their boarding passes; even looking at the monitors showing the airline flights and the gates assigned for the flights.

  • cscasi

    If one is not certain, one can call and ask. How hard is that?

  • C Schwartz

    This seems to be a peculiarly of domestic flights within India. It seems that it is expected that the traveler will know or will find out when going to the check in counters for luggage.

    It sound like one could use the jet airways mobile boarding pass to travel to India but domestically it is not allowed.


  • C Schwartz

    How do you know it was not in the email or in a link provided. Maybe the company does not feel the need to hand hold or be the nanny to foreign tourists and expects them to do some research for themselves.

    Mobile boarding passes have never been allowed domestically in India.

    Noah Kimmel has given some insights into domestic travel in India.

  • Michael__K

    Have you ever called to ask if your boarding pass is really a boarding pass? (And whatever answer you get, it’s a “he said she said” and you don’t have it in writing, right?)

  • jsn55

    When are people going to realize that they have two choices in booking a trip. Do the research and read all the fine print … or use a travel agent, a real travel agent. If you can’t manage either of these choices, at least show up at the airport several hours before your flight so you can iron out any issues in person. Such a shame.

  • The Original Joe S

    Because YOU YOURSELF said that the company doesn’t feel the need to hand-hold. So, they didn’t post it in the e-mail.
    You assume that because you know about India boarding passes that everyone does, and therefore criticize the OP. Why is it necessary to become an EXPERT in travel simply to board an airplane? You get an e-mail that says “boarding pass”, a normal individual might assume that it is the boarding pass.

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