Saturday, March 15, 2014

Can women be professors or doctors? Not according to Jet Airways

I am already used to the comical scene at airports in Asia, where a sign-holder with "Professor Galit Shmueli" sees us walk in his/her direction and right away rushes to my husband. Whether or not the stereotype is based on actual gender statistics of professors in Asia is a good question.

What I don't find amusing is when a corporate like Jet Airways, under the guise of "celebrating international women's day", follows the same stereotype. When I tried to book a flight on, it would not allow me to use the Women's Day discount code if I chose title "Prof" or "Dr". Only if I chose "Mrs" or "Ms" would it work.

A Professor does not qualify as a woman

So I bowed low and switched the title in the reservation to "Mrs", only to get the error message

After scratching my head, I realized that I was (unfortunately?) logged into my JetPrivilege account where my title is "Dr" - a detail set at the time of the account creation that I cannot modify online. The workaround that I found was to dissociate the passenger from the account owner, and book for a "Mrs. Galit Shmueli", who obviously cannot be a Professor.
"Conflicting" information

For those who won't tolerate the humiliation of giving up Dr/Prof but are determined to get the discount in principle, a solution is to include another (non-Professor or non-Doctor) "Mrs" or "Ms" in the same booking. Yes, I'm being cynical.

In case you're thinking: "but how will the airline's booking system identify the passenger's gender if you use Prof or Dr?" - I can think of a few easy solutions such as adding the option "Prof. (Ms.)" or simply asking the traveler's gender, as common in train bookings. In short, it's beyond blaming "technology".

One thing is clear: According to Jet Airways, you just can't have it all. A JetPrivilege account with title "Prof", flying solo, and availing the Women's Day discount with your JetPrivilege number.

My only consolation is that during the flight I'll be able to enjoy "audio tracks from such leading female international artists as Beyonce Knowles, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Hudson, Taylor Swift, Kelly Clarkson and Rihanna on the airline's award-winning in-flight entertainment system." Luckily, Jet Airways doesn't include "artist" as a title.

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