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Learning from the Kiruba incident

In The Kiruba Incident we outlined the many things that went wrong with one customer’s Cleartrip experience and the steps we took to make things right for that customer. In this followup post, we’re outlining all the improvements we’ve made to our product and internal processes to prevent the recurrence of such an incident.

Our original process for international flight bookings went something like this:

  1. Customer purchases an international ticket(s)
  2. Block the seats with a 24 hour hold on the reservation (if the reservation is not ticketed within the time limit, the seats are automatically released)
  3. Request the customer to send us a scanned copy of their passport(s) by displaying a message on the booking confirmation page, sending an email request and an SMS notification
  4. Send an additional email reminder a few hours before the time limit if we haven’t received a passport copy from the customer

There’s four distinct reasons we used to request a copy of the passport:

  1. To prevent fraudulent bookings
  2. To verify that the customer has entered names exactly as displayed on the passport # To verify that the passport is valid for at least 6 months from date of travel
  3. Certain airlines (mainly American carriers) require us to enter the passport number and date of expiry at the time of ticketing

Anyone that has read The Kiruba Incident will know that the passport played a big role in the series of unfortunate events. We learned a lot from the incident and here’s the changes we’ve made to our process:

  1. Customer purchases an international ticket(s)
  2. We block the seats and inform the customer that they will receive their tickets within 24 hours.
  3. Our fraud scanning team checks the booking and flags it if they suspect it may be fraudulent based on certain parameters. For all bookings flagged as ‘suspicious,’ we call the customer and request them to send us a copy of the credit card used for payment and/or a photocopy of the passport. This process is completed within 2 hours from the time of booking if the booking.
  4. After getting an all-clear from the fraud team, our ticketing team takes over and checks whether the airline requires us to enter passport details while booking. If the information is required, we call the customer to get the data.
  5. We issue the ticket and email it to the customer and update the details in the customer’s Cleartrip Account

In addition to improving our process, we also made some improvements to our product:

  1. A yellow box has been placed directly above the traveller details form in our booking process. The box contains instructions on how to fill out names and making sure that they match exactly with the names printed on the passport.
  2. Since passports use the nomenclature of “Given name” and “Surname,” we changed the display labels for the fields to use the same nomenclature.
  3. Changed the text on our confirmation page to inform customers that tickets will be delivered via e-mail address within 24 hours.
  4. Completely rewrote our automated confirmation email & SMS messages to make things crystal clear.

We know a lot of you have been waiting to hear about what we changed and we hope this blog post answers that. We love hearing from our customers, even when its complaints–your voice helps us learn. We listen, we learn and we get better everyday. Thank you for being vocal.