Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Public pressure forces some decency out of offensive QANTAS subsidiary

Too bad if you can't get a major newspaper to give big publicity to your complaint, though

Jetstar has suspended a gate attendant who allegedly abused a female passenger and had her thrown off a flight and apologised for the airline's "unacceptable" response to the woman's complaint.

Mesha Sendyk was removed from a Sydney to Gold Coast flight earlier this month for allegedly shouting at a gate attendant and getting on the plane without a boarding pass. Ms Sendyk, 42, complained to the airline, alleging she was abused by the staff member in front of her six-year-old daughter and had her boarding pass snatched away during a highly-charged exchange with the man.

The airline's customer care manager responded to Ms Sendyk's complaint with an offer to refund her airfare, an accusation she behaved in an "unruly, disruptive or violent" manner and a threat to ban the Byron Bay-based artist from all Jetstar services in future.

But two days after the incident came to light, a senior airline executive phoned Ms Sendyk to tell her the gate attendant had been stood down. "[Jetstar group general manager commercial David Koczka] apologised repeatedly about [the attendant's] behaviour and [customer care manager] Michael Mirabito's letter," Ms Sendyk said. "He said 'I think what happened was terrible for you and then when we responded to your attempt to reconcile, the response we gave was just unacceptable'."

A Jetstar spokesman confirmed the gate attendant had been suspended pending an internal investigation into the incident. "Senior management have taken this matter seriously," the spokesman said. [About time] "We've spoken directly to the customer and apologised for the incident that happened at the gate." "We have very good customer service, we've got very strong passenger growth - we're the fastest growing airline in the region. "We stand by the fact we're an organisation that's proactive and takes these things seriously." [Really?? Not much sign of it]

Ms Sendyk said she was tremendously hurt by the airline's initial response to her written complaint, as well as further accusations, levelled through the media, that she was at fault. "I can't say I'm happy with the whole thing but I think their assurance that he's no longer going to be in a position where he can victimise members of the public is good," she said. "It hasn't been pleasant but I'm happy with the response.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

QANTAS again -- woman badly mistreated and QANTAS doesn't care

Jetstar is the QANTAS budget subsidiary. And they're animals. The lady below should sue the b*stards

NSW artist, psychologist and mother Mesha Sendyk covered both ends of the emotional spectrum the day she decided to see the Dalai Lama, then try to fly home on Jetstar. Meditation was the last thing on her mind when she says she was angrily challenged over her carry-on bag by a male attendant at the gate. Now she has lodged a complaint with the airline and called for the attendant to be sacked. But the airline is standing by its man.

Ms Sendyk, 42, of Byron Bay, was with her husband and six-year-old daughter when the clash happened at Sydney Airport two weeks ago as they tried to get on the Gold Coast flight. “All of a sudden I heard this yelling match,” said another passenger in the line. “Then I heard a woman's voice say: 'Don't you dare touch me, take your hands off me.'"

The airline alleges Ms Sendyk got on the flight without a boarding pass and shouted at gate staff and flight attendants.

The stand-off began when the male gate attendant allegedly challenged Ms Sendyk over the size of her carry-on bag. The bag fitted the frame and Ms Sendyk was told "you can get on board" but when she remarked on the attendant's alleged “rudeness”, she said he got angry. “He then roared, using the tone of an incensed school madam: 'That's it! Your bag is going under the plane and if I hear another word you won't be flying at all,'” Ms Sendyk recalled him saying in a three-page account of her experience. “I said only, 'You need to stop being rude to me.'"

She said the attendant replied: "I can do anything I want," before allegedly snatching Ms Sendyk's boarding pass and circling the cabin baggage rules. “Look here … it says so here in your contract … I control who and what goes onto this plane."

Ms Sendyk, conscious that her daughter was becoming upset by the exchange and worried it could trigger her asthma, said she tried to move her family through the gate. Ms Sendyk said that when her husband, Xavier Bouquillard, asked the attendant for his name, the man said it repeatedly and spelled it out before saying: “You're not going anywhere.”

Ms Sendyk said she swore at the attendant and tried to move her family through. “I'd just spent three days with the Dalai Lama and just looked at him really dismissively and said 'f--- off' and we kept going,” she said. Ms Sendyk said the attendant cried out to stop her before rushing forward and putting himself between her family and the gate. “[He] rushed to the doorway pushing me with his large belly and manhandling me with his body to hit the doorframe, raising his hands and shrieking: 'Stop her, stop her!'” she said.

Ms Sendyk said she managed to manoeuvre her way through the gate and, after explaining the gate attendant had her boarding pass, was allowed by a flight attendant to take her seat in row four of the aircraft. Mr Bouqillard and the couple's daughter were seated together further towards the back. Ms Sendyk said she sat there for a few minutes before the same flight attendant came to her and told her she was being “deboarded and must get off the plane”. She tried to reason with the flight staff but was told there was nothing they could do. She said she was allowed back on the aircraft once to collect her bag and ask the other passengers if they would be willing to provide witness statements.

Australian Federal Police officers who were called to the gate advised Ms Sendyk to take notes on the incident as soon as possible. She was eventually forced to pay $349 for a Virgin Blue flight to the Gold Coast later that night. Ms Sendyk's recollections are supported by at least three passengers, one of whom heard the boarding gate exchange.

The Brighton Le Sands woman, 50, who asked not to be named, said everyone in line turned around to look. “All of a sudden I heard this yelling match,” the woman said. “Then I heard a woman's voice say: 'Don't you dare touch me, take your hands off me.' “Then she was standing behind me really furious, saying 'I'm going to make a complaint about that man.'”

The incident was handled “appallingly” by the airline, the woman said. “I actually got up from my seat and said 'just let the lady on board, she has her child on board and her husband'. She was not a threat to the plane,” she said. “Then [Ms Sendyk's daughter] started crying and the lady next to me started crying, that's how distressing it was. “It was just totally blown out of proportion.”

Jetstar offered to refund Ms Sendyk's airfare but refused to reimburse her for the Virgin Blue flight. And in response to Ms Sendyk's three-page complaint, Jetstar's customer care manager Michael Mirabito threatened her with a total ban from the airline's services. “In the event of any further reports of unruly, intimidating or violent behaviour by yourself, Jetstar will exercise its right to refuse you carriage on all of its services,” Mr Mirabito said in a letter, dated December 8.

An airline spokesman yesterday said the gate attendant was a “highly-valued” and “long-serving” member of staff. The airline had employee reports that indicated crew were not comfortable with Ms Sendyk travelling on the flight, a spokeswoman said.

The same member of staff had a complaint against him posted on an online complaints forum earlier this year. "Wanted to find out at booking desk if we could upgrade to business [star class] on the return flight from Thailand using frequent flyers points," the passenger wrote. "Was told by [staff member] at desk that there was no possibility as frequent flyer members were the 'lowest of the low'. "He was extremely rude and condescending, it was very tempting to jump the desk and have a quiet word with him, but I wanted to get to Thailand." The passenger said he was told frequent flyer members were "the lowest of the low" a second time, by the same attendant, six months later before a flight to Bali. "The arrogance of the male person ... astounded me, and as an employer of over 20 staff I would have had him fired on the spot; surely this could not have been the first complaint against him," he said.

Two other passengers on Ms Sendyk's flight, who were seated next to her but did not know her, disputed Jetstar's claim she was shouting and using inappropriate language on board. “[Ms Sendyk] was a bit tired and upset but she wasn't loud or obnoxious, or annoying anybody,” one passenger, Diane Harris, said. “When she addressed the plane she was just pointing out that she was being thrown off the plane for whatever kind of behaviour and she thought it was unacceptable when the guy at the gate had been rude to her and now she was being pulled off for being 'obnoxious'.”

Ms Harris, who has been taking the same flight almost every week for three years, said the airline's treatment of Ms Sendyk was “dreadful”. “We were on the [same] flight last Thursday,” she said. “They have drunken yahoos in there on the way to the Gold Coast for a bucks' night or what have you and there's not a word of admonition to them and yet they throw off some poor woman with a family who's not being loud or obnoxious at all,” Ms Harris said.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Three current reports below on Australia's own third-world airline

QANTAS strands blind woman -- illegally

"Australia's national airline" refused guide dog and stranded blind woman. A mainstream carrier that is as ignorant -- and as ignorant of the law -- as an El Cheapo airline

QANTAS left a blind woman distressed and stranded interstate at night because the airline would not allow her guide dog on a flight. Qantas is not alone. Tiger Airways two days earlier baulked at letting the same woman fly with her guide dog.

Donna Purcell and her husband, Ric, of Sydney, met a wall of resistance from Tiger Airways when they tried to fly return to Adelaide with her guide dog for a weekend away last month. First, she was told that Tiger did not take dogs, then she would have to buy an extra ticket for it and even then could not be guaranteed to fly. Eventually she convinced the airline to take her to Adelaide, but when Tiger cancelled the return flight, she approached Qantas.

Despite at least 20 seats being available on a plane that evening, Qantas asked her to stand aside while they processed other Tiger passengers. Qantas counter staff told her to call reservations, who told her dogs were not allowed in Adelaide airport. The airline finally booked them on a flight the next day. It left Ms Purcell and her husband stuck in Adelaide with no accommodation arranged or food for her seeing-eye dog, Hetty, a three-year-old black labrador on a special diet.

Ms Purcell has lodged complaints with both airlines and the Human Rights Commission. "I was shunned because I had a guide dog," she said.

Tiger Airways, which could find no record of the complaint, yesterday apologised to Ms Purcell, blaming an outsourced company for not understanding the airline's policy. "Tiger Airways will take immediate action to remind our staff and business partners of our policies in relation to passengers with special needs," its communications manager, Vanessa Regan, said.

Qantas head of communication Olivia Wirth said the Qantas counter staff did not have the authority to make the seat allocation but the airline took the matter seriously and had apologised to Ms Purcell, offered to pay expenses and was reviewing its processes.


Qantas passengers in dark for eight hours

DOZENS of international travellers' plans were thrown into chaos last night when a Qantas flight to Singapore was delayed by eight hours and then finally cancelled. A faulty emergency exit door has been blamed for the delay.

Passengers on the 2pm flight from Adelaide were initially told that the flight would be delayed by am hour. But at 9.45pm last night, they were told the part needed for the door had not arrived and the flight would be rescheduled. Many passengers missed connecting flights in Singapore as a result and some passengers became irate when advised of the further day's delay.


QANTAS has lost it

Qantas is in the process of reinventing itself, if you believe the company's own hype. It has spent millions on a customer service training centre in Sydney; at least on domestic routes to begin with, it is in the process of redefining the customer check-in experience to radically reduce the time it takes.

It sees the main brand as a premium carrier, complemented by Jetstar as a cheap alternative, with the group able to offer something for each part of the market. But, particularly for long-haul travel, I'm wondering whether the Qantas group has already lost the battle for Australian hearts and minds.

The combined Qantas group share of the market is now below 30% on international routes from Australia, where once its share was nearer 50% (admittedly in the much more regulated old days). Its market share continues to shrink in spite of the invention of Jetstar, which was designed to increase it.

On the US route, Qantas is being clobbered by new capacity from V Australia and Delta, although Qantas still has the lion's share. Between here and Europe, Qantas is being swamped, not only by traditional rivals like Singapore Airlines, which continues methodically and relentlessly to increase its Australia market share (in spite of this year's pause caused by the global slowdown), but also by the new Arabian Gulf carriers, Emirates, Etihad and Qatar.

More than a million Australians - about 20% of everyone heading overseas - are going to Europe, but only 40% of them to English-speaking Europe (that is, the UK). Yet Qantas now has only two European destinations where it flies its own planes - London and the German business capital, Frankfurt. Its key competitors have far more comprehensive European networks. Emirates, for example, now has more than 20 European cities.

In the past two decades, Qantas has axed Manchester, Paris, Rome and Athens - not because it couldn't fill its planes on those routes, but because there weren't enough business travellers to make those routes pay.

Jetstar plans to return to Rome and Athens. But I think Jetstar will not only struggle to find acceptance from Australians if it flies to Europe, but also needs to tap new markets for visitors to Australia - and most (though not all) of those are in Northern Europe. Think Spain, Germany's many big regional cities, Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Ireland -- countries from where travel to Australia is already (or potentially) the strongest.

Do you think of Qantas if you're heading to Europe? How would Jetstar go against Singapore Airlines and Emirates? Has the horse already bolted, particularly since its chief low-cost rival, AirAsiaX, already flies daily to London and has just secured rights to fly to Paris?


Thursday, November 19, 2009

QANTAS again (1)

Who gives a damn about passengers? They were made to wait 90 mins. on the plane for nothing and then just dumped over an hour's drive away from their destination. No help. No explanation and no apology

Disgruntled passengers say Qantas deserted them at the Gold Coast Airport last night after their flight into Brisbane was diverted due to bad weather. The QF 665 flight was also struck by lightning during its descent into Coolangatta.

Passenger Denis Gailey said the plane landed about 7.50pm but passengers weren't allowed to disembark until 9.35pm.

A Qantas spokesman said the airline didn't have engineering support at the airport, as it was no longer a Qantas port, and had to wait for an engineer from Brisbane to arrive. "That explains why people had to stay on board for that long. "They stayed on board in the expectation we'd get them up again. But unfortunately the plane was declared unserviceable by the engineer," he said.

But Mr Gailey said there was no communication. "When we got off, we were told to follow the staff in yellow safety vests and that buses were on their way. But we never saw anyone in yellow safety vests. "Passengers found their bags themselves. There was no co-ordination," he said. Some passengers organised hire cars while others waited for buses which arrived after 11pm. "We had no food, no direction and no-one to ask.

Qantas spokesman admitted passengers might not have had access to shops or food between the meal served onboard at 6pm and arriving in Brisbane after midnight. "The opportunity to provide refreshments just didn't eventuate unfortunately. "I think our focus would be on getting our passengers to Brisbane as quick as possible," he said. [It was obviously a "focus" that didn't succeed]

Mr Gailey said Qantas crew avoided the group of passengers after disembarking and refused to make eye contact. "The cabin manager had a moral obligation to take control of (the situation) and stay with us." There was no apology or offer of compensation, he said. "It was a complete sham," Mr Gailey said.

The Qantas spokesman said "cabin crew essentially did their job for the day when the flight landed". "Ultimately the crews have responsibilities as far as the flight was concerned and they hand it over to ground crew once they're on the ground. He said he would talk to the customer care department about compensation, but said the event was unavoidable due to the weather conditions. "We certainly regret any inconvenience the incident might have caused our customers but our focus was on getting our customers to their destination as quickly as possible."


QANTAS again (2)

Cost-cutting has undoubtedly hit maintenance, as well as customer service

A QANTAS passenger plane taking off from Hong Kong was brought to a screeching halt after a pilot heard "a loud bang" from the engine. QF30, a 747 Jumbo with 313 passengers onboard, was heading to Melbourne from Hong Kong International Airport at 9.55am local time yesterday (6:55am AEDT yesterday) when it came to an abrupt halt.

Clasina Cue, a Melbourne grandmother and former airport worker, was aboard along with her friend, Lisa Taliana, also from Melbourne with both returning from a Hong Kong holiday. Both say the plane was nearing taking off speed. “The plane's nose was a bit up in the air,” Ms Cue said. “There was a big bang and a shudder. The pilot slammed the brakes and stopped the plane. It had been close to the point of no return.”

Both Ms Cue and Ms Taliana said they could smell smoke in the cabin. Ms Cue believed it was from the “screeching” tyres. Ms Cue and Ms Taliana both praised the pilot. “It was the pilot’s quick thinking. We could have gone up in the air. It could have been a lot worse,” said Ms Cue. “I’m just thankful we’re not dead,” said Ms Taliana. “The pilot did an awesome job. Not taking off was the best thing he could have possibly done.”...

The Qantas spokesperson said there had been no cockpit indications of engine failure but it was later found that the engine needed new compressor blades. The spokesperson could not say why there was no cockpit indicator of a problem before the bang alerted the pilot.

Qantas planes have been bedevilled with numerous incidents over the past couple of years. There have been union claims that safety is being compromised with maintenance work being outsourced to overseas terminals. The Qantas spokesperson however said the plane in question had been maintained in Sydney.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

QANTAS near-disaster again

Qantas pilots forgot to lower wheels. Qantas is going to run out of luck soon

QANTAS has stood down two pilots after a Boeing 767 landing in Sydney came within 700ft of the ground before the flight crew realised they had not lowered the plane's undercarriage. The airline and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau have launched investigations into the October 26 incident. The pilots are due to be interviewed by authorities on Friday.

The crew on the Melbourne-Sydney CityFlyer service apparently recognised the problem and had started go-around procedures when they received a "gear too low" aural warning from the aircraft's enhanced ground proximity warning system.

It is understood investigators are looking at possible human error and a communication breakdown between the first officer and captain about who was lowering the landing gear.

According to a former Boeing 767 pilot, a crew on an instrument approach would normally start lowering the undercarriage when the plane was between 2000ft and 1500ft in order to ensure that it met requirements that the aircraft was stable and configured to land at 1000ft. In visual conditions, the aircraft needed to be stable by 500ft, but lowering the gear at 700ft or even at 1000ft was still far too late, the pilot said. Landing gear problems or gear-up situations were involved in 15 per cent of airline hull-loss accidents last year, according to an analysis by the International Air Transport Association.

But Qantas said yesterday that a crew failing to lower the undercarriage was extremely rare and it was taking the incident seriously. "The flight crew knew all required procedures but there was a brief communications breakdown," a spokeswoman said. "They responded quickly to the situation and instigated a go-around. The cockpit alert coincided with their actions. There was no flight safety issue. "The incident was reported to the ATSB and the pilots were stood down. We are supporting the ATSB's investigation and our own investigations will determine what further action might be warranted."


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Qantas does it again

Qantas passengers stranded for 26 hours. TWO planes faulty. When will they get back to their old maintenance standards? Do they have to have a crash first?

FRUSTRATED passengers have been stranded in Sydney for more than 26 hours following problems with two Qantas planes. Around 120 passengers on flight QF31 experienced the lengthy delay on the Sydney-Singapore-London service.

The flight was originally delayed for over five hours due to a hydraulics issue, a Qantas spokesperson said. A replacement aircraft also experienced technical problems, forcing it to be returned to the terminal. "The flight was originally delayed by just over 5 hours... a replacement aircraft was allocated," the Qantas spokesperson said. "In the early stages of its take off roll just before 11pm, the flight crew received an engine control message which required a return to the terminal and a night stop."

The passengers were provided with overnight accommodation and meals, and have been booked on other flights later today. However frustrated passengers have told of their anger over the extensive delays. "They don’t understand that time is precious," one passenger told Channel Seven.

Passengers flying from London-Singapore-Sydney on flight QF32 will be delayed by approximately 22 hours as a result of the incident, the spokesperson said. The spokesperson has apologised for the delays. "We regret any inconvenience this delay has caused but will always put operational safety before schedule."


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Yet another reason not to fly Qantas

Man dies on 'unbearably hot' flight after plane takes off with no air-conditioning. The plane was clearly faulty and should never have taken off

PASSENGERS on a Qantas-affiliated flight are outraged after an Australian man died shortly after the air conditioning failed and temperatures soared above 35C. The Western Australia man, aged 85, passed away after suffering what was thought to be a heart attack or stroke on board the Air France/Qantas flight from Paris to Singapore last night.

Other passengers were furious the Boeing 777 departed in the first place given the fact the air conditioning wasn't working. Melbourne lawyer Ian Dunn, who was on holiday with his wife, said the pilot tried to start the plane three times in Paris. "The really awful thing was that it is quite possible that the heat on the plane when we first got on – which probably lasted about an hour and a half – may well have had some impact on this man dying," he said. "

I don't think the plane should have gone. "The plane shouldn't have been as hot as it was. "We were leaving from 11.30pm in Paris and it was about 15C outside but the temperature in the plane was over 30C when we got on. "Later in the day a guy with a thermometer recorded it as over 35C."

The deceased man was believed to be travelling with two other people.

Mr Dunn, who was sitting a few rows behind, said the first he knew of any incident was when an announcement was made asking if there was a doctor on board and several people came forward. The plane made an emergency landing in Bucharest, Romania, but the man died before or shortly after it landed.

Other passengers were left on the flight for more than five hours without air conditioning before returning to Paris, where they started the journey again 15 hours later. Mr Dunn said the pilot again struggled to start the plane. "It happened to be handled by Air France as part of its relationship with other airlines but we'd booked the bloody thing through Qantas."

Mr Dunn was supposed to be back at work today (Thursday) but instead had to spend another night in Paris, before flying home to Melbourne via Hong Kong. "They brought us back today from Bucharest to Paris, the people who are going to Sydney are now leaving on a flight that gets them as far as Singapore," he said. "There was a hell of a fuss when they were told they would be waiting for seats to become available on any Qantas flight and the flights are all full."

A Qantas spokeswoman said the customer who passed away had booked through Air France and it was unable to disclose his nationality for privacy reasons. She said there were 46 Qantas CodeShare passengers on the flight who were now on their way back home. "It's an Air France flight so it's not a Qantas operated flight," she said. "We have sold some seats on it for our customers but it's an Air France flight and an Air France aircraft."


Saturday, September 26, 2009

No security clearance needed to work as a QANTAS cleaner??

That this guy had full access to passenger aircraft shows what bunglers are the bureaucrats who are supposed to keep us safe. No surprise, I suppose. I resolved some years ago never to step on a plane again

A FORMER Qantas cleaner who was jailed yesterday for at least nine years for compiling a "terrorism training manual" had been convicted of terrorism-related offences in Lebanon.

Details of Belal Khazaal's overseas convictions emerged in the NSW Supreme Court as the Lakemba man - the first person in Australia convicted of making a document connected with assistance in a terrorist act - was sentenced. In December 2003 a Beirut military court convicted Khazaal in absentia of helping to fund a bombing campaign in Lebanon. He was sentenced to 10 years' jail with hard labour.

His Supreme Court trial centred on a 110-page book, Provisions on the Rules of Jihad, compiled in September 2003 using material he downloaded.

Khazaal had the book posted on an extremist website that was endorsed by al-Qaeda and ran publications by leaders of terrorist organisations. He said it was "strictly religious journalism".

Justice Megan Latham said it was a "terrorism training manual", advocating "widespread and indiscriminate loss of life, serious injury and serious property damage within the countries identified as enemies of Islam".

She jailed him for a maximum 12 years. He intends to appeal against his conviction and his sentence.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

More QANTAS gloom

I've returned from overseas having flown Qantas to and from Singapore from Perth. The flight there was suddenly cancelled with no explanation after numerous people had already checked in, the next available flight was five hours later, which was so packed that they had business class passengers in the front of economy getting champagne and the better meals but still sitting with masses! The return journey actually left roughly on time, but the Q video system was broken. I might as well have been on Jetstar at a fraction of the price, I'm sure I would have got a better meal for just a few dollars. Needless to say I will try another airline next time I go overseas. No wonder their profits are down, people are voting with their feet.

SOURCE (Via email)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

QANTAS: An airline that doesn't give a sh*t about its passengers -- or anything else much

Qantas seems not to do any real maintenance on its planes and when the inevitable malfunctions occur too bad about the passengers. The story below is about Jetstar, the low-cost tentacle of QANTAS. Qantas is the same airline that recently had a near-riot on its hands in Perth after a very long and unexplained delay. They should enable passengers to phone someone in the airline who can actually be helpful -- including offers of a no-cost transfer to another airline. The EU has strict rules about compensation that airlines must pay to delayed passengers. For once, I think Australia could learn from the EU

A FRUSTRATED Jetstar passenger is urging travellers to prepare for the worst when flying with the low-cost airline. Glenn Cullen took a swipe at Jetstar after revealing his bad experience when flying with the airline for the first time:

THERE had just never been the need to use Qantas' cheaper, younger brother Jetstar. Until recently. The occasion was a 50th birthday weekend on the Gold Coast, and I was initially travelling from Sydney to Brisbane. Despite literally dozens of flights between the two state capitals each day across a number of airlines, this proved something of a task.

When I arrived for flight JQ818 to depart at 2.35pm I was told it would now be leaving at 6.45pm. No explanation or apology, just that it was delayed until that time. I discovered I could get a refund but this did not extend to the price of a ticket with another carrier; it would cost me three times as much to fly with someone else at short notice.

I could however attempt to claim a refund on the difference for a new ticket through Jetstar head office. And that's where the fun began.

Me: "Before I purchase my ticket can I speak to someone about the likelihood of actually getting a refund for this?"

Customer Service: "No sir, you have to post it in and try your luck."

Me: "But how do I know if I will get a refund in the circumstances?"

Customer Service: "I'm sorry sir, all I can do is give you an address."

As I have a function to attend that night I ponder my options. Pay up and hope for the best, wait for the flight or ring Jetstar. I ring Jetstar Australia.

After a 20 minute wait I get put through to someone in South East Asia who eventually also tells me to send in a letter.

Me: "Do you not have someone who I can speak to now?"

Customer Service: "No".

Me: "Can I speak to a supervisor?"

Customer Service: "No, I'm the most senior person."

Me: "Well, as the most senior person, can you tell me whether I would be likely to get a refund?"

Customer service: "No I can't."

Me: "Can I speak to someone else?"

Customer Service: "No you can't, I'm the most senior person."

Me: "Can you transfer me to someone at your head office in Australia?

Customer Service: "No I can't."

And so it went.

Eventually I'm told I can hang up and dial the Jetstar number again and if I press the first option I will get onto someone in Australia. I ring, wait another 20 minutes to get through and seem to be connected to someone in Asia. Again.

Me: "Can you transfer me to someone locally?"

Customer Service: "No."

Much the same conversation transpires before I eventually hang up. Sigh.

I sit it out for three more hours in the domestic terminal before re-checking in. Then I am handed a $10 voucher by a stonefaced Jetstar check-in clerk. I think to myself this may be some compensation – back as a nine-year-old when I charged out my time at $2.50 an hour. Be that as it may I take the voucher with me onto the flight.

Once I have boarded the flight is delayed a further 45 minutes due to two missing passengers. The pilot points out our collective frustrations should not be taken out on his crew as the flight staff were on standby and it's not their fault. He does not however offer a suggestion as to where said frustrations can be taken out.

To this point I have not raised a temper. Upon ordering some cheese and crackers from the food cart this changes. The exchange goes like this.

Steward: "That will be three dollars."

Me: "I'll pay for this with the voucher, thank you."

Steward: "You can't use the voucher for this."

Me: "I'm sorry?"

Steward: "This is valid in the terminal only."

Me: "Are you kidding?

Steward: "No – and it says that on the voucher. You would have had plenty of time to use it at the terminal."

I shake my head and double check classy, photocopied stub only available for use on day and not for the purchase of alcohol.

Me: "Can you tell me exactly where on the ticket it says it's only for use in the terminal?"

Steward: Looks at ticket, pauses and responds: "Well, you would have been told that when you were given it."

Me: "No, I wasn't. Are you making this up as you go along?"

Heather "Well sir, I wasn't there so I don't know whether you were told or not."

Me: "This is (expletive). I have to wait five hours for a one hour flight and you are squabbling with me over three dollars for some cheese and crackers?"

She looks at me disdainfully and offers a punchline that could have come straight from the movie Clerks.

Steward: "Well what do you want me to do, it's my day off!"

Me: "I think I'll take it up with head office."

Steward: "You do that".

Touche – if only there was a number I could call.

Later, a spokeswoman for Jetstar said the flight was "unfortunately delayed due to a technical issue" and refreshment vouchers were only for use at the airport. "We arranged for an alternative aircraft to operate this service, however, unfortunately there was a five-hour delay," she said. "As per our normal policy, we provided all passengers with vouchers for refreshments for use at the airport."

She said Jetstar sincerely apologises to Mr Cullen (the writer) for any inconvenience this delay may have caused him. "Passengers were also able to request a free move to another Jetstar service, or a full refund of their Jetstar fare, which we would have processed immediately upon his request," she said.


Monday, July 27, 2009

QANTAS again

The faults and failings never stop. Anybody who flies QANTAS these days is asking for trouble. Their maintenance is obviously close to non-existent. There has got to be a major disaster waiting in the wings

A LOSS of cabin pressure at 25,000 feet forced a Brisbane-bound Qantas aircraft to turn back to Auckland shortly after take-off from New Zealand, a spokesman for the airline says. The Boeing 737 was carrying 91 passengers and crew for the Saturday morning flight out of Auckland, but Qantas spokesman Joe Aston said it was not necessary to treat the malfunction as an emergency.

"The aircraft ... this morning experienced a subtle pressurisation problem at 25,000 feet (7,600m) on ascent out of Auckland," Mr Aston said. "The cabin was depressurising at a controlled rate but certainly not rapidly or noticeably to passengers. There was never any imminent threat to passengers, the crew or the aircraft." The incident would not have been noticeable to passengers inside the main cabin of the aircraft and it was not necessary to supply oxygen masks, he said.

The aircraft landed back at Auckland without incident and passengers were transferred to a different plane which arrived in Brisbane just under three hours late. "The original aircraft is now being inspected by our engineers in Auckland," Mr Aston said.


Friday, July 17, 2009

More on incompetent QANTAS management

And they are still in denial mode

QANTAS has come under attack for failing to support staff left to deal with angry passengers delayed by a lightning strike in Perth. The Australian Services Union says staff are still furious they were left without enough up-to-date information to pass on to passengers stranded when an Airbus A330 struck by lightning on approach to Perth airport last Friday, reports The Australian.

The aircraft, which was due to operate the red-eye service to Melbourne, was initially grounded for an inspection but was further delayed when the strike proved more serious than first thought. Passengers became increasingly angry because they were not being told what was happening and staff were forced to radio for police help when the situation turned ugly.

The union says staff were left exposed, powerless and intimidated by angry people and it was just a matter of good luck that there was no physical violence.

This view was disputed by Qantas, which said it believed staff were supported on the night by duty managers and operations staff. The airline said it had established an informal working group to investigate the incident and it was confident it could address some of the issues arising from the event.

ASU assistant branch secretary Pat Branson said her members were angry that they were continually forced to bear the brunt of customer anger about problems at Perth only to watch the airline do nothing about it. She said the latest incident was the straw that broke the camel's back. The union took the unusual move of publishing the Perth manager's phone number and urging customers to ring him personally to complain.

Perth airport has been a thorn in Qantas's side and a source of consumer complaints for years. Two years ago, the airline announced it would spend $50 million on its terminal to ease unpleasant congestion during peak periods, including the installation of QuickCheck kiosks, new security screening, an expansion to the departure lounge and a boost to its baggage systems.

But Ms Branson said passengers were still miffed that not enough had been done to solve problems at Perth and the facility was still subject to constant queues. "It's a mess," she said. "The facilities at the Perth domestic airport are the worst I've seen in Australia and they are more crowded."


Thursday, July 16, 2009

QANTAS does it again

You get the impression that they just don't do inspections and maintenance any more. A crash can't be far away. Sad to see a once-exemplary airline (voted second best in the world at one stage) sink so low. The deterioration in maintenance standards seems to have started in the latter half of the reign (2000 to 2007) of Margaret Jackson as chairwoman -- with a decision made in 2005 to send most maintenance work overseas -- ending up in amazingly bad Malaysian operators being given the work, for instance. We now seem to be seeing the fruit of that. A few skipped inspections might not matter, but if you keep skipping them it does eventually matter. Is Ms Jackson another example of a disastrous affirmative action appointment? Sadly, the new chairman seems to be very part-time, with lots of other fish to fry -- so would seem to be little more than a figurehead -- leaving everything to the cipher that is the new CEO. No strong leadership anywhere in the company any more so it is just drifting towards a cliff

PASSENGERS on a Qantas flight received a nasty surprise when water stored for the toilets poured from around the overhead bins. Flight QF25 was travelling from Melbourne to Los Angeles via Auckland, the Aviation Herald reported. The plane was flying over the Pacific when the water pipe supplying the toilets began to leak, causing water to pour into the passenger cabin.

The Boeing 747-400 was diverted to Honolulu Airport where it was serviced while passengers waited for two hours. The flight resumed with the same equipment after the plane was given the all-clear. The flight was delayed by five hours in total.


Friday, July 10, 2009

QANTAS has really lost it

Two current reports below. First episode: Fed-up passengers revolt over 18 hour flight delay in Perth. What with incessant mechanical problems and contemptuous treatment of their passengers they have become Australia's Aeroflot (the old Soviet airline). They were a first class airline once but no more. I would fly Singapore airlines now. THEY understand courtesy and efficiency. Nobody seems to give a stuff at QANTAS any more. I think they need former boss Geoff Dixon back. Not all his decisions were good ones but at least he seemed to be in charge. Has anybody ever heard of Alan Joyce, the present boss? That he is a former planning executive at the failed Ansett airlines hardly recommends him. General Cosgrove is on the board. Maybe he should get more involved somehow. He definitely is the "take charge" type

POLICE have been called to Perth's domestic airport to calm outraged passengers stranded overnight after their Qantas flight failed to leave. One radio listener, John, told radio station 6PR the A330 that passengers were screaming and yelling and Qantas staff called police after ongoing delays.

He said the aircraft had been hit by lightning on its way to Perth from Sydney and had been grounded until engineering advice could be obtained from France. Qantas confirmed the aircraft had been subject to a lightning strike and was ruled unfit to fly.

Passengers claimed they were kept in the dark with no communication from Qantas, leading to frustration and anger. Channel 7 reporter John Taylor said all media had been cleared from the terminal by Australian Federal Police amid rowdy scenes. Just before 8am, after waiting all night, passengers were told the flight had been cancelled and advised to go home and book new flights after 10am.

"A mate of mine has been stuck overnight, being told every hour that it will be another hour until they leave," one Perth Now reader said. "She has slept on the floor of the terminal, when she could have gone home and come back. 18 hour flight to Melbourne? No thanks." The passengers were angry that there was no provision for them to re-book their flights at the airport.

A Qantas aircraft has now been arranged to take the passengers to Melbourne via Sydney at 2.30pm, which will means the flight will have taken 18 hours. Qantas claims school holidays had meant there was a high demand on flights and it had been difficult to arrange alternatives.


Qantas Airbus A380 aborts landing at Heathrow Airport

A QANTAS Airbus A380 had to reportedly abort a landing at London's Heathrow Airport because of a problem with its front landing gear. According to The Aviation Herald website, Qantas flight QF-31 from Singapore aborted the approach last Saturday (July 4) due to a problem with the nose gear steering. A video posted on YouTube by a plane spotter appears to show the superjumbo performing a go-round at Heathrow before performing a safe landing on runway 27L.

But due to the jet’s to loss of steering, the A380 was unable to vacate the runway and had to be towed to Terminal 4, forcing airport operators to close the runway for about 30 minutes. The Aviation Herald said the A380 was repaired and headed back to Singapore after a delay of two hours.

The Airbus A380 is the largest passenger airliner in the world and made its maiden commercial flight from Singapore to Sydney on October 25 2007. The Airbus fleet has made headlines recently over a spate of incidents involving the Airbus A330 and A310 models...

Qantas said the incident was not linked to recent problems the Airbus fleet. [So was it a QANTAS maintenance problem?]


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Big problems with the latest Qantas airbuses

It's getting bad when business passengers refuse to fly on them. I said from the beginning that I would never fly on one. I think my prophecy that they will become a second De Havilland Comet is becoming ever more likely. Reliance on computerization has been problematic enough on earlier airbuses and the computerization on the new planes is bound to be even more complex and hence more bug-susceptible

Disgruntled passengers on the new Qantas A380 luxury superjumbos have started calling it the A3-Lately or the A-180 (as in degrees), because of delays as long as eight hours. And, according to one Qantas insider, premium business passengers are demanding to be on the old Boeing 747, saying there is "absolutely no way" they are travelling on the Airbus A380 because of the unreliable departures.

The A-180 nickname stuck after one plane, bound for Los Angeles last month, came out of the hangar, loaded up with passengers, had technical problems, unloaded and went back to the hangar - a 180-degree turn. According to one business class passenger, that QF 11 flight took off eight hours late. After several attempts to rectify technical problems, the pilot told passengers he was not happy and unloaded them onto another A380 that took off just before 9pm.

A week later, QF 12 from Los Angeles to Sydney was three hours late due to what the pilot told passengers was an electrical fault with the A380 air-conditioning. Another passenger reported an A380 flying to LA earlier last month had a faulty fuel gauge which showed a full tank halfway into the flight.

There appear to be issues with plane layout as well. According to one flight attendant, when Russell Crowe was travelling in first class in the A380 recently, he complained about the noise from people walking up and down a set of stairs next to the first class suites. (The actor did not return a call yesterday.) The A380 is so quiet first class passengers could hear any clatter nearby. A barrier has since been erected to stop business class passengers using the stairs to access first class toilets.

And while pilots who fly the A380 say they are confident in the planes, the Air France A330 crash last month and other recent incidents involving high tech Airbuses have sparked concerns about over-reliance on technology which has essentially "pilot-proofed" aircraft. Around the world, aviation experts and pilots are debating whether planes are becoming too automated for pilots to control in emergencies, in which computers override pilots.

Essentially pilots are flying a computer in the sky. "And sometimes things go wrong with your computer," says the A380 captain Barry Jackson, president of the Australian and International Pilots Association. "It's pretty hard to reset something in the air." But he says he is "confident going to work" on the A380, that the aircraft is safe, and he will be flying one to Singapore on Sunday. He stressed that the A380 is different from the Air France A330, and in particular that the speed sensor system that appears to have been one of the causes of the Air France crash is not the same. But he agreed airbuses "haven't been having a good run lately".

The problem with the A380 fuel gauge was a design problem that Qantas engineers have since developed a maintenance procedure to prevent. "Technically the A380 has had its teething problems," he said yesterday. But he says 747s had similar teething problems when they were introduced by Boeing.

Investigators of the Air France Airbus A330-200 flight 447 from Rio to Paris which disappeared on May 31 with 228 people, have been looking at technological malfunctions, beginning with the plane's speed sensors, combined with stormy weather, as the cause of the crash. The A330 is typical of the fly-by-wire aircraft that use electronic systems to control the plane rather than hydraulic or mechanical devices.

According to The Sunday Times the pilot's instruments were giving "inconsistent" readings of the plane's speed. And an internal Air France report, quoted by the British newspaper, said "the reliability of these [fly-by-wire] aircraft has the consequence of reducing the pilots' appreciation of risk".

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has also been investigating recent incidents caused by computer glitches on high tech planes. There was the Qantas Airbus A330-303 "in-flight upset" on October 7 last year when the plane surged up and down over Western Australia, before pilots were able to wrest control from the computer and bring it down safely. The aircraft, en route from Singapore to Perth, "abruptly pitched nose-down twice while in normal cruise flight". A flight attendant and 11 passengers were seriously injured. The bureau found the autopilot had disconnected after the aircraft's computer systems started receiving "erroneous data" from the so-called air data inertial reference units (ADIRUs). The bureau also reported "other occurrences" involving similar anomalous ADIRU behaviour" in September 2006 and December 2008. "But in neither case was there an in-flight upset."

In March the bureau investigated another computer glitch which led to a tail strike involving a United Arab Emirates Airbus A340-500 during take-off at Melbourne Airport. The investigation found "an incorrect weight had been inadvertently entered into the laptop when completing the take-off performance calculation prior to departure based on a take-off weight that was 100 tonnes below the actual take-off weight of the aircraft". The result was the plane did not produce enough power to take off and although the pilots managed to override the computer and apply maximum thrust, the plane's tail hit the runway.

Then there was the Air New Zealand A320 Airbus that crashed off southern France on November 28 after what French investigators described as a power surge which made it fly sharply upwards, stall and crash as it was landing in Perpignan.

Jackson says the concern is the prospect that, as planes become more automated, financially strapped airlines will devalue pilot skills. Just this January, flight engineers were phased out of Qantas flight decks because their functions had been automated.

After 22 years with Qantas, Jackson says experience in flying light planes or in the air force is superior to simulator training. "Those skills are still needed no matter how automated planes are." Yet cheaper pilots, with fewer "real world" flying hours are replacing experienced pilots around the world, he says. The importance of pilot skill was clear in the emergency landing of a US Airways plane on New York's Hudson River in January. In this high-tech age we can't forget that the most important safety equipment is a well-trained pilot.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Three Qantas A380 superjumbos grounded in recent days

Even before these planes entered service, I said on various occasions that I could feel a re-run of the De Havilland "Comet" affair coming up. The Comet was the first of its class too. It was the first passenger jet airliner and it had an attractive design feature: Big rectangular picture windows for passengers to see out of. But after a while the Comets started exploding in flight. It was eventually found that those big picture windows were the problem. They weakened the airframe so much that it cracked and the plane disintegrated. To this day all airliners now have small oval windows. And the military version of the Comet -- with NO windows -- is still flying 50 years later: The Nimrod. It was a great plane except for that one fault. What will it be with the A380? Could be excessive system complexity. Everything on the plane is computerized and we all know how computer programs "hang up" at times. Frozen control surfaces at the wrong moment could be catastrophic. Problems are certainly coming thick and fast. I wouldn't go on one for love or money

QANTAS has been hit by a string of problems which have grounded all three of their flagship A380s in the past few days. One of the planes was back in service this morning, but the other two were declared unserviceable with a fuel tank indication system problem, reports The Herald Sun. "Qantas is an early customer of the A380 and naturally, as with any new aircraft type and like other operators of the A380, we expect the occasional issue to arise," the airline said in a statement. "We are working very closely with Airbus to resolve these but we remain committed to the A380 as the cornerstone of our new generation product offering."

The airline's first superjumbo, the Nancy-Bird Walton, was initially delayed for 19 hours in Sydney on Saturday because of a fuel leak. After repair work the much-heralded plane was cleared to fly the "kangaroo route" to Singapore then London. In London, it was again found to be leaking fuel and experienced a nose wheel ground steering issue. The plane was declared "unserviceable" and had to be grounded.

The episode comes after Qantas grounded the same plane due to a "minor technical fault" at Los Angeles airport five weeks ago. In the latest incident, the Nancy-Bird Walton was scheduled to fly from London to Melbourne as a one-off because of the initial delay in Sydney.

Passengers travelling to Melbourne on flight QF10 were delayed for more than 16 hours as a result of the dramas. One passenger stranded in London told News Ltd: "Lots of people were really excited to be going on the new plane. "Now basically they've cancelled the flight because there's a fuel leak. "It's a worry because it's brand new and a fuel problem is pretty serious." They eventually left London on a Boeing 747 at 2.24pm Monday, instead of the original departure time of 10pm Sunday.

A Qantas spokeswoman yesterday said repairs had been completed and the Nancy-Bird Walton departed London for Melbourne on flight QF10 at 11.25pm Monday local time (10.25am Tuesday Melbourne). The other two A380s were grounded in Sydney and engineers were "currently working to resolve this and we hope to have both aircraft returned to service very soon", the airline said. Of the two "unserviceable" A380s in Sydney, one was scheduled to be ready to operate QF31 Sydney-Singapore-London at 5.40pm today. The other A380 was scheduled to be back in operation tomorrow.


Risky decision

A FUEL gauge fault with the Qantas A380 fleet was identified mid-flight more than two weeks ago but engineers ordered the aircraft to continue flying the scheduled London to Australia routes.

The fuel gauge fault that led to the grounding of all three Qantas A380s earlier this week was first discovered on February 14, when QF 31 was in Singapore, en route to London from Sydney, reports The Advertiser. The aircraft continued flying the long-haul route for another two weeks before the airline's executives decided the fault was serious enough to ground the fleet.

The aircraft's manufacturer has since issued an alert to other operators of the A380 recommending action to fix the apparent glitch with the fuel gauges. It is not yet clear whether the flaw is a design fault.

On Monday, about 300 passengers were forced to wait more than 16 hours for their flight from London to Melbourne as another A-380 fault was rectified.


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Amid all its problems, Qantas is running around like a headless chook

Wotta lotta crap the story below is. It is more money spent on engineering inspections and maintenance that is needed, not more talk. Passengers are a lot more worried about bits falling off the aircraft than they are about the brightness of someone's smile. And how about having enough check-in desks open so that passengers can board without waiting in line for an hour or more? And WTF has wine appreciation got to do with any of QANTAS's problems? John Borghetti must be another typically clueless business-school graduate. It sounds to me like Qantas is headed the way of the now defunct Ansett -- a once great Australian airline that also lost its way

QANTAS is about to send 18,000 staff, from the chief executive down, back to school as part of a massive push to boost customer service standards. A high-tech $10 million training facility, which opened yesterday in Sydney, is at the centre of the strategy to propel the Qantas brand back to the top.

The move comes after a horror year for the airline where delays and maintenance problems battered its reputation with travellers, The Australian reports. Up to a third of its planes ran late and cancellations sky-rocketed as a result of an industrial row with engineers. It also comes as full-service airlines, which face a downturn in premium passengers because of the economic crisis, are being forced to compete more fiercely to fill business and first class seats.

The new Centre of Service Excellence brings all Qantas customer service training under one roof and covers areas ranging from makeup and grooming to telesales, check-in procedures and wine appreciation. Facilities include a 126-seat auditorium, four cabin-crew training pods that simulate aircraft environments and a hi-tech area where staff can send suggestions to management using interactive screens. It also features "customer experience zones", demonstrating the environments that passengers in various classes, and on various arms of Qantas, experience in the course of their journey.

Qantas executive general manager John Borghetti, who will be the first top executive to undergo training, said one of the main changes Qantas passengers could expect as a result of the new centre was more consistency in the airline's customer service. He said customer service would be a big differentiator for airlines competing for high-end customers in difficult times.


Saturday, January 3, 2009

QANTAS again -- another big holdup

Huge queues at Brisbane Aiport as QANTAS computers crash. You would think it was a budget carrier from the way it is run. There seem to be no backup systems for when things go wrong. Will it be another PanAm? Seems like it

QANTAS flights have been impacted by a global crash of the airline's check-in system. Queues at the Brisbane Airport departures area this morning snaked right through to Jetstar as frustrated travellers were repeatedly told of the computer problems.

Issues with the baggage system compounded the delays but passengers were reassured their flights would not leave without them. The 7.55am flight to Melbourne eventually departed more than 40 minutes later and other flights were held up for as long as an hour.

Qantas apologised to passengers for the inconvenience, on one of the busiest flying days of the year. An airline spokesman confirmed the global crash of the Amadeus check-in system. The problem last arose on November 16, 2009, and took about six hours to rectify as check-in staff were forced to process passengers manually.