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.


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