This week’s Compensation Clinic is about a Japan Airlines Business Class flight I recently took and where my seats wouldn’t automatically change into the sleeping position, requiring a manual adjustment every time.
Having problems with the mechanical function of seats in Business and First Class isn’t an anomaly. It happens rather frequently, especially in the newer generations with more complicated integrated options.
On my last Japan Airlines flight Seattle – Tokyo – Bangkok I had just this problem on the NRT-BKK sector and the staff had to manually adjust the seat for the period that I wanted to lay down and sleep.
It was annoying but in the end they made it right. I was surprised when the purser handed me a certificate towards the end of the flight that would allow me to pick from a range of compensation items.
The choices are:
- Visa Gift Cards
- Japan Airlines Miles
- Japan Airlines Vouchers
I’m not an active collector of Japan Airlines miles under the mileage bank system so opting for miles doesn’t make much sense to me as I’d have to supplement the balance with Marriott points until I reach the desired mileage level.
JAL Vouchers don’t make much sense to me at all so I ended up choosing the Visa gift card.
The letter arrived within 10 business days at my address in Thailand:
It’s a VANILLA Visa Gift Card that you can also obtain in Japanese convenience stores. The downside it: It has to be swiped and doesn’t have a chip or tab function.
There is no mention of how much they actually compensate you anywhere in the letter. You have to sign into the website and enter the card details to pull up the current balance of the card:
The balance showed 20,000 Yen, which is quite a nice compensation for the next Japan trip. I did make sure that it worked and tested the card at the supermarket self-checkout in Bangkok two days ok. it worked just fine.
As far as the compensation amount is concerned, 20,000 Yen is US$140 since the Yen went on another slide. Not as much as it sounds, but it will still pay for a few dinners, etc in Japan. I wasn’t able to identify what the Forex charges are for these gift cards, so it’s probably best to simply use the balance up in Japan.
I didn’t even know that JAL has this option as it wasn’t ever offered to me before even though I had my fair share of problems with them. I do remember that ANA uses the same system as I got such a voucher 3 years ago when the wifi was down:
Another Airline that used to give “Customer Appreciation” vouchers for inflight issues is United Airlines, but I believe this system has been discontinued for many years.
Generally, I like when airlines empower their crew and ground staff to deal with problems on the spot rather than telling customers to write to customer relations and create even more hassle. The way JAL handled this was excellent, especially since I didn’t even ask for anything.
I had a problem with a seat defect while flying Japan Airlines Business Class, and without pushing for it the purser handed me a compensation certificate to enter into a website to choose from a list of compensation items.
The 20,000 Yen Visa gift card that I selected is definitely a nice way to compensate for such issues without having to choose airline-related instruments such as miles or vouchers. In this case even one time customers can get compensated without the need to get back on the airline.