I love when airlines offer guarantees. Alaska Airlines offers a 20 minute baggage guarantee, whereby your checked bag will arrive at the carousel within 20 minutes of the aircraft door opening, or else you get 2,500 Mileage Plan miles or a $25 voucher towards a future flight. But the best part is that I’ve never actually had to exercise that guarantee, since my bag has always arrived at the carousel in less time than that. It’s amazing, given how long other carriers take.
In a similar vein, SpiceJet, the Indian low cost carrier, is launching a very interesting new on-time guarantee today:
Your time is of utmost importance to us, which is why we go the distance to ensure that we are always on time. And starting this Tuesday, 6th May, 2014, we are going one step further. Introducing On-Time Guarantee, our promise that we will fly you to your destination on time, because we know how a delayed flight can affect your travel plans.
This guarantee entitles you to a voucher worth Rs. 500 if your flight is delayed between 60 – 119 minutes and a Rs. 1000 voucher for a delay beyond 120 minutes.
Just to put those amounts into USD, Rs. 500 is ~$8USD, while Rs. 1000 is roughly ~$16USD. So if your flight is delayed 1-2 hours, you get an ~$8 voucher, while if your flight is delayed over two hours, you get a ~$16 voucher.
While $8-16 will generally go further in India than in the US, airfare isn’t actually substantially cheaper than in the US on a per mile basis.
As you’d expect, this guarantee only applies for delays within SpiceJet’s control, which is fair enough:
SpiceJet shall be under no obligation to provide any Voucher(s) in cases where the delay and/ or cancellations have been caused by an event(s) of Force Majeure, i.e., circumstance(s) which are beyond the control of SpiceJet and the impact of which has lead to the delay and/ or cancellation of flight(s), and which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken care of by SpiceJet. Such circumstances, may in particular, occur, including but not limited to, due to political instability, natural disaster, civil war, insurrection or riot, flood, explosion, government regulation and/ or any order affecting the aircraft, strikes and labour disputes causing cessation, slowdown or interruption of work and/ or any other factors that are beyond the control of SpiceJet.
Furthermore, it’s interesting that the guarantee isn’t an on-time arrival guarantee, but rather an on-time departure guarantee:
For the purpose of calculation of the period of delay, the time will be calculated from the scheduled departure time of the flight, till the time the aircraft’s doors are closed for take-off. SpiceJet’s decision in this regard shall be final and binding.
So theoretically if you have a three hour tarmac delay after you’ve pushed back from the gate, that would count as on-time for the purposes of this guarantee.
But the part that really makes this restrictive is that the voucher is only valid for 90 days, can only be redeemed by the person it was issued to, and has to be redeemed for travel at least 30 days prior to departure:
The Voucher shall be valid for a period of 90 days, from and including the date of its issue, post which it shall automatically lapse.
The Voucher can only be redeemed against booking made at www.spicejet.com for those passenger(s) to whom such Voucher(s) was issued.
To redeem the Voucher, the booking shall be made at least 30 days prior to the scheduled date of travel.
India isn’t as “mobile” of a country as the US, and certainly the average person doesn’t fly as frequently there as in the US.
As far as I’m concerned this is a total marketing gimmick, and actually a really smart one from their perspective. If anything, issuing people a voucher valid for 90 days that only they can redeem will drum up additional business. And the voucher really isn’t big enough so that it covers a substantial chunk of the ticket cost.
This is hardly a reason to fly SpiceJet and I’d almost be miffed if I thought I was getting a voucher and didn’t realize the terms. But from their perspective this is pretty smart, even if all of their flights for the rest of eternity were delayed.
(Tip of the hat to Live from a Lounge)