Sunday, January 31, 2010

Jettisoned in Japan

Jetstar in its usual form

After visiting relatives in Japan, we were booked this month through Qantas on a Jetstar flight to Sydney via the Gold Coast.

Jetstar cancelled the flight on the day of departure and like other passengers we queued for 3 hours at Osaka check-in to be given a hotel voucher and the news that we were required to make our own way to Tokyo to catch a flight the following night.

The cancellation in itself, although annoying, is not the issue. The annoying part is Jetstar's neglect of its duty of care in abandoning its customers in a country where English is not widely spoken and travel is not easy.

When we got to Tokyo we were told that there were no seats left via the Gold Coast and we would have to go to Cairns, wait five hours and then get a domestic flight to to Sydney. We are told by others: That's Jetstar - happens all the time."


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Delayed and disgruntled Jetstar passengers back in Sydney

"You get service if we feel like it", seems to be their motto. Why could not delayed passengers have been promptly booked onto flights with other airlines? Flights leave Thailand all the time. NOTE: This is the second adverse report in ONE DAY!

Passengers stranded in Thailand for two days when their Jetstar flight was repeatedly delayed have finally touched down in Sydney, with some vowing never to use the budget airline again.

Flight JQ28 from Phuket to Sydney was due to leave at 9pm (local time) on Monday but the flight was cancelled, leaving 290 passengers stranded, a disgruntled passenger told AAP on Tuesday night.

The airline, citing "technical issues", offered passengers a full refund, $600 worth of Jetstar travel vouchers and covered the cost of two nights accommodation during the delay.

A replacement flight left Phuket on Wednesday and arrived in Sydney about 8.30am (AEDT) on Thursday.

"I will never fly Jetstar ever again," one man told Macquarie Radio as he arrived in Sydney.

Passengers included a woman due to undergo chemotherapy and children meant to return to school on Thursday.

The cut-price airline on Wednesday said it had issued a written apology to passengers.


Jetstar again! They are just animals

Jetstar tells mother she can't fly with twins. And they are not apologizing

JETSTAR has been forced to issue a refund to a young mother who was told she couldn't fly with her twin daughters. Aimee Moutray turned up at Auckland International Airport, New Zealand, with her 18-month-old twins Arliyah and Janade on Monday only to be told the girls were not allowed on the flight.

Ms Moutray had booked the NZ$481 ($379) tickets online over a month ago so the toddlers could be flower girls at her cousin’s wedding this Friday, the New Zealand Herald reported.

Jetstar’s website states that passengers wishing to travel with more than one infant must phone customer services for assistance, and Ms Moutray complied. A Jetstar representative helped Ms Moutray with the booking and assured her that it would cover her and the twins.

However it was a different story when she arrived at the check-in. She was told that one child had to sit on her lap and the other had to sit on another passenger’s lap.

Despite telling the check-in staff that the twins were capable of sitting in a seat and asking for the assistance of a flight crew member during take-off and landing, the family was not allowed on the flight.

The airline also refused to give Ms Moutray a seat for a second adult so the family could make it to the wedding.

Ms Moutray has been trying to arrange another flight but is waiting for the refund from Jetstar to come through, which she was told may take several weeks.

Jetstar’s Head of Corporate Relations Simon Westaway said he did not know how the phone booking was able to go through but a refund should be with the family in the next couple of days.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Jetstar passengers stranded in Thailand

More of those alarming "maintenance problems" from QANTAS. Cutting corners on maintenance will be fatal one day

JETSTAR passengers booked on a Thailand-to-Sydney flight have been stuck on the resort island of Phuket since Monday because of maintenance problems. Flight JQ28 was due to leave Phuket at 9pm (local time) on Monday, but the flight was cancelled, leaving hundreds of passengers to spend Australia Day stranded far from home, Natalie Soltyszewski said.

The passengers were put up in a hotel on Monday night and told they would leave at 5pm (local time) yesterday, but due to more maintenance problems that flight was also cancelled after they had boarded the aircraft. Jetstar again arranged accommodation for them last night.

The Qantas-owned no-frills carrier later confirmed the stranded travellers would be picked up by bus to catch a replacement flight to Sydney at 5.30pm today.

But tempers were frayed as the passengers waited for information. "They boot you off the plane and then you are stuck dealing with the Thai ground staff who don't know anything," Ms Soltyszewski said. "The information is just not forthcoming. We'll go to a hotel now, and we'll find out in the morning whether or not we've got another plane."

Ms Soltyszewski had been on holiday with friends in Thailand for a month. "I'm not so worried about myself," she said. "One lady has to get back for chemo. Some kids are starting school tomorrow. "It's a great Australia Day for us."


Saturday, January 23, 2010

More Jetstar horrors

Jetstar is the "budget" tentacle of QANTAS. "Budget" apparently means: "Be prepared to be treated like sh*t"

Check-in missed

My daughter was at the Jetstar check-in counter at Coolangatta Airport 35 minutes before departure for her flight to Sydney but was told the flight had closed. There was no apology or explanation.

I called the customer service number to complain that they don't adhere to their own policy. (Jetstar policy is to close check-in 30 minutes before scheduled departure.) A customer service agent put me on hold and after waiting for more than five minutes I figured she had simply hung up on me. I guess that's one way to deal with complaints.

Turned back at gate

My 19-year-old daughter phoned, sobbing, from Coolangatta Airport saying she had been turned away from a Jetstar plane that was about to depart. A female flight attendant had told her that her carry-on bag was too big and she would need to pay $80 to have it checked.

She had flown from Sydney two days earlier with the same carry-on bag but the attendant said the Sydney staff weren't doing their job properly.

The attendant then announced the flight was about to depart and that my daughter would need to pay again for the next flight. My daughter said she couldn't and began to cry.

At this stage the manager arrived and told her that she was "causing attention with her attire" and asked if "blondie was getting upset because she might not see her boyfriend that night?"

According to our daughter, other passengers carried on similar bags.

Jetstar has no customer service direct line and offers to return calls within 72 hours but no contact has been made.


Friday, January 15, 2010

Whistleblowers attacked at QANTAS subsidiary

The men who raised concerns about Jetstar Pacific feel vindicated by an inquiry into the airline -- but the airline is not apologizing

DIGGER KING knew his colleagues were unhappy when he joined his fellow Jetstar Pacific engineer Bernard McCune in taking their concerns about safety at the carrier to Vietnam's aviation regulator. But he did not expect the loud knock on his front door late one night in November.

"This guy came around to my place on a motorcycle and rammed it into my door. He then started to kick it down." The man, says Mr King, was David Andrew, his former housemate and the maintenance manager at Jetstar Pacific, in which Qantas has a 27 per cent shareholding.

A police report of the incident formed part of a Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) investigation into Jetstar Pacific, which ordered Mr Andrew be removed from his post, an edict the airline adhered to.

"There was a lot of hatred there for me," said Mr King, a 65-year-old veteran of the airline industry. "People were telling me, 'You are going to bring us down. This place will go out of business.' I told them if they did something when we first complained about it, it never would have come to this."

Mr King and Mr McCune spoke yesterday of blowing the whistle on what the CAAV found in a report released this week to be a "very poor and ineffective" culture of safety maintenance at Jetstar Pacific.

Mr McCune, who was found by the Vietnamese authorities to have been illegally sacked after he refused to sign a resignation letter drafted for him, said he first raised the safety issues in early 2008. "The reason we went to the CAAV is because senior managers weren't responding to the safety concerns. There was an intense investigation and we have been found to be correct."

As well as finding that the airline had committed a number of safety violations, the CAAV report also accused Jetstar of covering up defects.

On Wednesday night, a day after the report's release, both men said they felt vindicated. All they had wanted, said Mr McCune, was to "fix the safety problems and clear our names".

Mr McCune has become a minor media fixture in the country. Photos he obtained of a damaged plane laden with passengers ready to depart were splashed across the country's print and online media last year. Jetstar accused Mr King of leaking the photos. He was suspended two days later on the grounds of making repeated mistakes, a rationale the CAAV found to be unsubstantiated.

Local maintenance staff at Jetstar petitioned for Mr McCune's reinstatement, saying "he was the foreigner they hated most" when he started at the airline in 2006 but they soon came to regard him as a "good teacher and good friend".

While the CAAV backed the whistleblowers, Bruce Buchanan, the chief executive of Jetstar, said yesterday there would be no apology nor reinstatement for the men.

Mr Buchanan said the CAAV report had been blown out of proportion and he insisted he would have grounded the airline if he had had concerns about its safety. "This airline is performing well and from a safety perspective it is making giant strides … The safety performance has improved 100-fold since we got in it," he said.

Mr McCune denied Mr Buchanan's claims. He said he had never applied for a promotion at Jetstar Pacific and that both men had presented written and verbal reports on the safety flaws at the airline, including a lengthy email - viewed by Fairfax Media - to a senior Qantas manager based in Australia.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Dangerous QANTAS subsidiary

Cost cutting again. It's pretty bad when a Third-world country thinks you are too slack

SAFETY practices at Jetstar Pacific Airlines, the Vietnamese carrier part-owned by Qantas, have been found to be ''very poor and ineffective'' and defects hidden from supervisors, prompting the country's aviation regulator to demand senior management be removed.

The damning report by the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam, obtained by Fairfax Media, also found Jetstar Pacific illegally sacked an Australian engineer - Bernard McCune - who tried to bring the problems to the attention of the airline's senior Australian managers.

Among the dangerous practices identified by the authority was the removal of a defective anti-icing pipe that, rather than being replaced, was welded and placed back in the aircraft by an unauthorised contractor. ''Technical staff did not report [this] occurrence on purpose,'' the report found, following an audit conducted in October.

Moreover, ''many mistakes and violations were covered up deliberately by JPA [Jetstar Pacific Airlines] from the supervision''. The authority added: ''Technical staffs record incorrectly the size of defects and twisting the fact of defect level.''

Amid deep cost-cutting at the airline, it concluded that there were not enough maintenance personnel and that the maintenance facilities were substandard.

The airline regulator laid the blame for the shortcomings squarely on the company's senior management. The ''quality assurance system operated very poorly and ineffectively, therefore [there have] been many violations occurred within the maintenance process. Managerial staff was actual causes and fully responsible for this system error.''

Jetstar Pacific was ordered to remove the airline's general director, Luong Hoai Nam, a Bulgarian technical quality manager, Atanas Stankov, and the Australian maintenance manager, David Andrew, from their posts.

Mr Nam is under arrest after resigning in November, while a Qantas spokesman, David Epstein, said yesterday that Mr Stankov was shifted from his position on December 25 and would formally leave the company next month. He said Mr Andrew was demoted on the same day for not properly reporting work practices, but only for three months.

The fate of Mr McCune and another engineer - Digger King, a New Zealander - who blew the whistle on the maintenance woes and lost their jobs remains unclear. Qantas has not offered to re-employ them or issued any kind of apology.

Mr McCune was sacked illegally, the report found. It added there was no evidence of wrongdoing to justify the terminations of either Mr McCune or Mr King.

Jetstar Pacific noted it was still able to fly its aircraft, saying the report ''focused on administrative and employment matters''. ''Jetstar Pacific remains confident of its engineering and safety record, and continues to work closely with the CAAV,'' it said.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

A personal QANTAS update

One of the guys who lives at my place took a round trip to Melbourne recently. He was unwise enough to fly QANTAS. He got back two days ago. His luggage has just arrived this morning!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

QANTAS again. Did I say this was getting to be a daily occurrence?

They should sell off the A380s (if they can). They are just too complex to work reliably. It was just QANTAS vanity that said they had to be one of the first to have the latest and greatest. What the A380s are greatest at is malfunctions. QANTAS should have stuck to more tried and tested planes. With all the malfunctions, there is going to be a critical one eventually and the A380 will be the new De Havilland Comet. And that could well be the final straw that breaks the airline. Think of the legal costs if you kill 500 passengers in one fell swoop. And all the prior malfunctions will be a good legal basis for saying that QANTAS breached its duty of care

A QANTAS A380 flight from the US had to be cancelled after it reportedly recorded the longest wait on Los Angeles International Airport's tarmac since 2007, in the latest blow for the airline.

The cancellation of the Sydney-bound flight on Sunday night, Los Angeles time, came after a computer glitch at global distribution system provider Amadeus caused chaos on Sunday, the Australian reported.

An A380 flight from Melbourne to Los Angeles was cancelled on Monday because of a faulty fuel indicator after 443 people spent more than four hours on the plane waiting for take-off.

The latest problem also involved an indicator light, this time on the braking system. Almost 400 passengers spent three-and-a-half hours on the plane before Qantas cancelled it for 24 hours. US sources said this was the longest stretch passengers have had to wait on the Los Angeles tarmac since a computer glitch in August 2007.

Authorities have moved to impose fines of up to $US27,500 for US carriers leaving passengers stuck on a plane for three hours or more. Flight QF93 from Melbourne to Los Angeles was initially delayed one-and-a-half hours because of a fuel gauge fault. It was taxiing when the problem recurred, forcing take-off to be aborted.

Passengers remained on board while maintenance crews examined the problem. They were not allowed to disembark because of heightened security procedures for US-bound flights that made re-screening passengers impractical. Qantas cancelled the flight altogether when it became apparent the crew would exceed their on-duty time limits. The Los Angeles-Sydney and Melbourne-Los Angeles flights have since departed.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

QANTAS again -- this is getting to be almost daily

Passengers should have been transferred immediately to other flights so that they could arrive nearly on time -- but QANTAS wouldn't know how to put their passengers first

Qantas passengers who sat on a defective A380 for five hours at Melbourne Airport yesterday finally departed for Los Angeles this afternoon, after yet another delay. Flight QF93, originally scheduled to take off yesterday at midday, was pushed back to 11am this morning. After another delay the flight finally left the terminal at 12.10pm, 24 hours late, and took off at 12.27pm.

A Qantas spokesman said engineers were this morning still working on the problem, in consultation with Airbus, that caused yesterday's delay. He said today's delay was due to the large volume of A380 passengers boarding at Melbourne Airport.

One passenger told Traveller that frustration boiled over during yesterday's delay and an "altercation" between another passenger and a Qantas representative was met by applause. After the flight left the gate, the problem reoccurred, forcing the superjumbo back to the terminal. Passengers were not allowed to disembark for more than five hours due to new security measures for US flights, which made it unfeasible to re-screen all 450 of them, they were told.

Business analyst Jeff Lobo said the delay had been "pretty horriffic." As a result of the flight postponement, he said he had missed hosting a clinical research workshop for over 20 people in North Carolina, a meeting difficult to re-convene. He said Qantas had been "ever apologetic, but decisions should have been taken much more quickly." "There was no depth to the explanations" offered by Qantas, which led to annoyance amongst those affected, he said.

After spending five hours on the grounded A380, "another couple of hours" were spent dealing with customs, which appeared ill-equipped to cope with the volume of affected commuters, Mr Lobo said. Mr Lobo did not get out of the airport until eight o'clock and stayed at the nearby Hilton Hotel overnight.

Another passenger, who wished to remain anonymous, said he had decided to go home rather than take up the Qantas offer of overnight accommodation, arriving home after 8pm last night. He said "there were issues, one after the other" all day yesterday. "There were different messages from different people (representing Qantas)," he said, over whether baggage should be left at the airport or taken with passsengers, and the availability of taxis.

Delayed travellers were told to go to the domestic taxi rank for transport, but rank marshals there were unaware of the arrangement, according to the passenger. "By seven o'clock there were a lot of angry people, a lot of tension" he said. There was an "altercation" between a frustrated passenger and a Qantas representative, which was received with loud applause.

The passenger heavily criticised the lack of "recovery effort" from Qantas following the delayed flight. Qantas said refreshments were served to passengers during the delay and that in-flight entertainment was available. The Qantas spokesman said overnight hotel accommodation would be provided to passengers who required it. "We sincerely regret any inconvenience that this has caused and we're doing everything we can to look after customers tonight," the spokesman said.


And QANTAS subsidiary Jetstar is just as bad

A Christchurch woman who was left to worry about her teenage son's fate after a dispute with Jetstar says the airline has agreed to investigate the incident. Stephanie Kelly said she was told by Jetstar staff last week that her 18-year-old son, Jordan Kelly-Houston, did not board a flight from Sydney to Honolulu. However, the teenager was on the December 31 flight, and arrived safely in Honolulu.

Kelly said she spoke to Alexander Knigge, head of commercial services at Jetstar Airways, yesterday. She said the airline had agreed to reimburse her for the phone calls she made to Sydney and the United States in an attempt to find her son. "He's [Knigge] agreed to investigate the conversations that went on," Kelly said. "He has offered to compensate [me] for my phone calls around the world and the extra night's accommodation we had to book in Honolulu."

Kelly-Houston was due to leave Sydney on December 30, but that flight was delayed until New Year's Eve. He was travelling – via a stopover in Canada to visit family – to take up a tennis scholarship at Florida State University. On arrival in Honolulu, Kelly-Houston had to wait for a new connecting flight to Toronto at 10am the next day.

As the flight to Honolulu was delayed, Stephanie Kelly had to spend $900 on the new flight to Canada. Jetstar had not committed to reimbursing her for the connecting flight, she said.

Jetstar spokesman Simon Westaway confirmed the airline had been in contact with Kelly-Houston's family. "Today, a senior manager of our airline spoke directly with Jordan's mum," he said yesterday.