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.

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