After the former lover of a first class QANTAS hostie gave Crikey some
tips on what’s hot and what’s not in the plush high altitude world
serving the rich and famous, we have received a flood of complaints
about the service levels at the national carrier.

Living with a first class QANTAS hostie

Sealed Section – January 5, 2004

“Bangkok
is desirable to have on your roster every few weeks, so that you can
stock up on prescription drugs (Xanax, Valium) without a prescription
for both yourself and your flight attendant buddies that don’t have a
Bangkok in the near future.

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The ever unpopular Sydney to
Johannesburg route frequently sees crew ringing in sick after a big
night out, and in one case crew having to coax a crying flight
attendant into getting on the plane. Apparently BA pays a per-flight
bonus to their flight attendants to “agree” to do Johannesburg, the
crime capital of the world.

If you are a pompous first or
business class passenger, or simply famous, you will be talked about.
If you are really annoying, crew might even parade around the galley
with your fur coat whilst you are asleep.

In order to keep the
HR department in a job, rules and procedures must be changed every few
weeks. This results in flight attendants concentrating more on the new
service manual than the level of service they are providing.

 Do
not fly ex-Sydney the day following large gay parties such as Mardis
Gras or Harbour Party. Half of the attendants have already rung in sick
with the other half still coming down from a range of substances and
possibly manning the wrong position on take off.

Do not approach
a first class flight attendant as he walks down the economy aisle to
the crew bunks at the rear of the plane. You are a loathsome economy
cheapskate, he is entitled to sleeping half of the flight and therefore
won’t care or will only pretend he does.

If you are flying ex-LA
and don’t like the service, then you can get stuffed and fly United
because they are the only other airline servicing the highly profitable
route.

A “10 day London” which consists of 3 or 4 working days
flying, 6 nights in deluxe hotels in Singapore and London, a daily
allowance and zero work obligation during your stay is considered to be
a real hassle and ringing in sick is seen as a good option if you don’t
feel like doing it. You might end up bidding successfully for a better
trip when you are re-rostered.

With rock bottom morale and customer service like this, I am not surprised at all the complaints to “Apology Airlines”.

The ex-Hostie Lover”

—————————————————————–

Bangkok: How Qantas risked safety to save money

While
it’s interesting to read about the poor food, rude service, etc. on
Qantas flights, there was a far more serious issue several years ago
that almost killed hundreds of people.  Qantas spun their way out
of it with minimal damage to their brand name, and I marvelled at the
time how they did not exactly lie in their statements to the media, but
Qantas certainly misrepresented the situation in several ways. 

I
worked in the aerospace field for 12+ years, so I do have some
background in this area.  The story I’m referring to was the
Qantas 747 that skidded off the runway in Bangkok during a torrential
rain storm, broke it’s landing gear off, and skidded to a stop on its
belly in a nearby field.  Whenever a plane “lands” like this,
there is the potential for a fuel leak, ignition, and the whole plane
exploding.  While the rain reduced the chances of this happening,
it was still a tragic possibility.

While there were a few other
contributing factors to this accident, the key technical issue that
emerged during the investigations was that the Qantas pilot did not
effectively engage the thrust reversers on the engines during the
landing.  Thrust reversers are installed on each engine, as the
name implies, to provide backward thrust to slow the plane down during
the landing.  Boeing and Airbus would not waste millions of
dollars installing these on every plane if they weren’t useful, but the
accountants who run Qantas decided that they weren’t really needed, and
they were costing too much to operate.  So, Qantas put out a
directive to all pilots to never run the thrust reversers up to full
power during landings.

When this issue was uncovered during the investigations, Qantas made 3 points in the media in response:

  1. The pilot has complete authority over his aircraft, and so if he wanted to use the thrust reversers, he is free to do so.
  2. Other airlines have policies not to use thrust reversers, so Qantas is just following standard industry practice.
  3. The claim that Qantas was saving money from this
    directive is ridiculous as the amount of fuel saved would be trivial
    compared to the fuel burned during the flight.

Each of these statements is not a lie, but each is extremely misleading.

Statement
1 is correct; however, one can easily imagine what would happen to a
pilot who decided to disobey a cost saving directive such as this on a
repetitive basis.  He’d end up getting assigned the least
desirable flights and schedules or worse.

Statement 2 is also
true; when I was working in the aerospace industry, I knew of several
other airlines who had a policy restricting use of thrust reversers,
including Lufthansa which had one of the most capable aero engineering
departments in the world.  However, Lufthansa’s policy was very
different than Qantas.  Lufthansa’s policy was that if the pilot
was comfortable that the landing was in “nominal conditions” (fair
weather, plane does not hit the runway late, etc.), he was asked not to
use the thrust reversers and instead rely on the brakes to slow the
plane down.  However, the decision to use the thrust reversers was
the pilot’s, and they were routinely used on all wet weather landings.

Statement
3 is the most ingenious spin and is also quite correct.  The fuel
used to run the thrust reversers up to full power would be trivial when
compared to the fuel burned during a 8-9 hour flight to Bangkok
(although this would add up over hundreds of flights per day). 
But, the primary cost savings to Qantas’ directive had nothing to do
with fuel.  The primary cost savings, worth millions of dollars
per aircraft per year, has to do with engine overhauls.  Aircraft
engine maintenance and overhauls are not scheduled like a car (kms
driven, or flown, in the case of a plane).  They are scheduled by
engine cycles, and a cycle is defined as running the engine up to ~90+%
speed and this happens every flight during take-off.  If the
thrust reversers are run up to full power during the landing, then each
engine would record 2 cycles per flight.  By directing that the
thrust reversers never be run up to full power, Qantas doubled the
maintenance intervals on their engines as there was only one cycle per
flight.  Since minor engine overhauls cost hundreds of thousands
of dollars, and major overhauls well over a million dollars, Qantas was
saving a lot of money with this directive.  The only fly in the
ointment is that the aircraft will slow down faster and safer when the
thrust reversers are engaged to full power, but the bean counters
obviously thought the cost savings were worth this risk.

While
the investigations and reports were being finalised, Qantas did release
a statement stating they had reviewed their policy on thrust reversers
and pilots were now free to utilise the thrust reversers when they
thought it was necessary.  During a few flights I took on QF after
that, the pilots were taking advantage of this change of policy. 
Qantas moved the Bangkok plane to China for repairs to avoid media
scrutiny and save $$ on the repair bill which was stated to be over
$100 million.

From the accountant’s point of view, the
directive probably saved Qantas well over $100m while it was in force,
so this directive was still probably seen as a financial “win” for the
company.  The issue of prohibiting pilots from using every
available means to slow and safely land an aircraft, even in the worst
weather conditions, did not appear to concern the flying kangaroo who
were very lucky not to have lost their claim as never having a fatal
crash as a result of this policy.

The Pilot

——————————————————-

No points or clubs on the new Aussie Airlines

I
heard something from a friend which blew me away, although on
reflection, it is consistent with the “new” Qantas’ appalling behaviour
and treatment of its customers. Qantas no longer flies to Bali.
Australian Airlines, Qantas’ low cost regional carrier, does the
honours.

My friend – a Qantas loyalist – and his wife are going
to Bali on holidays. They live in Brisbane which means they have to fly
to Sydney on Qantas domestic and change planes – the cost is around
$400 more than flying direct to Bali with Singapore or Garuda (for
example).

They have just learned that they are unable to use
Qantas Club lounges at Sydney International or at Denpasar. They
questioned Qantas about this, only to be told that they couldn’t use
the lounges which were exclusively for Qantas passengers and that
Australian is a budget airline that doesn’t offer those privileges.

My
friend pointed out that Australian is a Qantas airline and that he was
flying Australian because Qantas no longer services Bali. The Qantas
staff member was about as interested as you might imagine, that is to
say, not at all.

To add insult to injury, they will also not
receive points for these flights. I think Qantas is going to come a
cropper. What will happen when Qantas passengers start to travel with
the low cost subsidiary, only to find that there is no access to
lounges and no crediting of points.

What’s the point in staying
with Qantas at all then – it will be easy and attractive for people to
switch to Virgin Blue where you can at least pay $5 to access a lounge.
I hate to see a once mighty brand sink to the depths that Qantas has
sunk to. I know that running an airline is a tough job these days and
it’s hard to turn a profit, but I’d have thought that the one asset
every airline should protect is its loyal customers – something the
Asian carriers definitely understand.

Keep the Qantas stories
coming in the hope that somewhere in the organisation, you’ll tap a
nerve with someone who has Geoff Dixon’s ear and can undo some of these
exercises in insanity. And yes, the service is variable to say the
least, and the food pretty uniformly awful.

Name withheld

———————————————————————-

What about the points rip-off?

Regarding
the current Qantas correspondence, I’m surprised that no-one has
remarked on the devaluation of Frequent Flyer points. For example a
discount economy fare to Singapore previously required 25,000 points to
achieve an upgrade to business class, as from January 1, 2004 this same
upgrade requires 45,000 points to move along the fuselage a few rows.
This represents an 80% depreciation in the value of points already
earned on an entirely different understanding of their value. In my
case thousands of my FF points were earned at the rate of one point for
every dollar spent on my Amex card as well as air-mile points earned as
a Gold FF. Why is this company allowed to simply strike down the value
of their corporate ‘currency’ without any explanation apart from the
bromidic ‘global issues have had a significant impact on the world
economy’. This may be so but in the case of the Australian dollar, our
more usual currency, it’s value has increased.

No amount of
corporate double-speak like ‘our objective was to ensure that the
Qantas frequent Flyer program delivers rewarding benefits’ can mask the
fact that it is now far less rewarding than previously. And the service
has declined accordingly.

Tarnished Gold FF
 

—————————————————–

The ultimate hell trip 

Dear Crikey

Regular
travel overseas as part of a job has its perks but it’s also got a hell
of a lot of downside. Most of the downside is the getting there and
back. I’ve developed a healthy dislike for Qantas, United Airlines,
Lufthansa, Garuda and China Airlines. Qantas is the recipient of most
of my ire; due probably to the fact I’ve had to fly with them more than
the others.

Take one trip to

Germany

about four years ago. My colleague and I landed in

Frankfurt

on a Saturday morning at

7.00am

with the temperature at 2C only to find that Qantas had lost our luggage. With a 3 hour train journey from

Frankfurt

to

Cologne

in
front of us and dressed only in jeans and T shirts, we warned Qantas
that we would need some clothing if the luggage wasn’t promptly
delivered to us. They smugly informed us that their conditions of
carriage required us to wait 24 hours before purchasing replacement
clothing at their expense.

No worries we thought…..first thing in the morning we’d go shopping. Once in

Cologne

and after about $300.00 in phone calls, we finally received word that our luggage had magically turned up……in

London

!
Heartened though we were to discover where the luggage was, it didn’t
really help us much in warding off the cold. Saturday night in

Cologne

was -5C and snowing.

Sunday
morning arrives and we got on the phone again in an attempt to talk to
anybody….anybody at all at Qantas. The closest we came however, was a
cleaner at

Cologne

airport; a lovely German lady who was able to speak just enough English for us to become totally confused.

We eventually
waited 3 hours longer than the 24 hours Qantas demanded we survive
without clothes before venturing out in the cold to go shopping for
some warm jackets. Ideas of perhaps trying on a couple of Armani suits
were slowly forming in our minds but of course it couldn’t be that
simple. We quickly discovered that all of

Germany

is closed on Sundays and it was even impossible to buy a newspaper in which to wrap ourselves.

Back to the
3mtr by 3mtr backpacker’s hole (enthusiastically referred to as a four
star hotel room) my colleague and I were sharing at $400.00 per night.
We continued to call around the world in a vain and resoundingly
unsuccessful bid to talk to anybody ….anybody at all, at Qantas. We
eventually received a phone call from our dear cleaning lady at

Cologne

airport.
She was just finishing her shift and had decided to have a look to see
if there was any unclaimed luggage lying around. Lo and behold, two
bags with Qantas tags standing forlornly in the corner of a freight
shed. God knows how long they would have stood there had she not looked
for them. The lovely lady organised a taxi and sent the luggage over.
We eventually received it at

6pm

Sunday evening.

We finally
heard from Qantas the following day and after a heated discussion we
were promised upgrades for our return journey as compensation for our
inconvenience.

The following Friday, my colleague and I were booked on the

11pm

Qantas flight from

Frankfurt

back to

Sydney

via

Singapore

. Earlier that evening, we ventured out into

Frankfurt

to
have some dinner before heading to the airport. I got into a spot of
bother while crossing the road, looking the wrong way for traffic (they
drive on the opposite side of the road to us) I was taken by surprise
by oncoming traffic and had to sprint to get out of the way. The snap
was quite audible, the pain was incredibly obvious; I had torn my
Achilles tendon.

With my foot
strapped to stop it from flopping around, we eventually arrived at the
airport to discover that Qantas had decided to renege on the upgrade
arrangements. Not only that, but Qantas had actually managed to totally
ignore our seating preferences. Both my colleague and I were Gold
frequent flyers with Qantas; this status was supposed to guarantee the
best possible service and attention. We found ourselves seated in the
middle two seats of the jumbo along with other frequent flyers bitterly
who were complaining about all the bloody tourists who had all the good
seats. We encountered the Purser from hell who astoundingly told us all
to “get stuffed”.

In a great
deal of pain from my foot, I was not a happy chappy. My mood didn’t
improve when I discovered that the back of my seat would not stay up on
its own. Anyway, up and away we go with me vainly trying to keep my
seat in ‘the upright position” during taxi and takeoff. After we
reached level flight I took some pain killers and began to doze. My
colleague, unencumbered by a serious foot injury, had located another
seat which gave me a bit of space to give my leg some comfort. About 2
hours into the flight, I was woken from a fitful doze by numerous
objects including, a plastic cup, tissues and a magazine being thrown
at me. Looking around, I discovered a lady across the aisle was
responsible for throwing all the rubbish at me. She was agitated,
speaking rapidly in German and indicating to the gentleman sitting
beside me;…….her husband I later discovered. His face had an ugly blue
hue to it, there was white foam oozing from his mouth and his breathing
seemed to be very ragged. Even through my drug induced haze, I could
tell this wasn’t very good.

Leaping into
action, I was brutally reminded about the damage to my foot. I crashed
to the floor as the leg gave way hitting my elbow on the arm of the
chair on the way down. Through tears of pain and rage, I managed to
eventually get to the poor man’s tie and collar button. I stuck my
finger in his mouth to pull his tongue back out of his throat and
started pushing as many attendant call buttons as I could reach. By
this time the guy’s eyes were rolled right back in his head and he was
having some sort of fit. His wife spoke no English and was panicking,
prompting thoughts to enter my mind relating to the value of mammary
glands on bulls. No sign of any Qantas staff so I had everybody around
me push their call buttons. As the darkened cabin began to resemble a
Christmas tree, one of the attendants finally came down to “see what
all the fuss was about”.

After some
persuasive words from myself and one or two nearby passengers, the
attendant finally accepted that perhaps there was reason for some fuss.
Much to my consternation however, that realisation simply prompted her
to run away.

F

ortunately,
she returned with half the cattle section flight staff including one
attendant who claimed to have some idea as to what we should do. Turns
out she was completely wrong, as evidenced by the amount of white
putrid vomit that suddenly erupted from our patient, all over me and
most of the surrounding passengers and flight staff.

To cut a long
but dramatic story short, it seems the poor guy was suffering from a
very extreme case of motion sickness. After settling him down, I was
handed a mask attached to an oxygen bottle and instructed to hold the
mask over the sick mans mouth and nose. The attendants then promptly
left and returned to their curtained area to the rear.

After about
10 minutes, I decided I had waited long enough and pushed the call
button. Eventually an attendant appeared and I asked what was to happen
next. “Nothing” she said. “Just hold the mask there and watch that he
doesn’t vomit into it.” I was left alone again, somewhat stunned that
as a fare paying passenger I had somehow accepted a role as medical
orderly and would have to clean the evidence of my patients illness
from my shirt and trousers without assistance. Thankfully, some time
later the guy indicates he is fine and that he could look after
himself. I placed the oxygen bottle under the seat, took a couple more
pain killers and stretched out gritting my teeth against the throbbing
in my foot.

It must have
been about 3 hours later when I was again awoken by various missiles
being thrown at me. Turning around I identified the same woman across
the aisle as, once again, the perpetrator. As on the last occasion, she
was pointing and waving wildly and speaking in a very excited manner in
words I had no way of understanding. Having learnt my lesson about
leaping into action with a torn Achilles tendon, it was more of a hop
into action as I lent over the guy I had previously assisted and
slapped his face repeatedly in a bid to drag him back from his
unconscious state. His eyes opened in fright and he started to ward me
off. He was apparently fine and had been soundly asleep. The problem
was in the row of seats behind me where a very elderly gentleman was
crying profusely and trying to attend to the very elderly lady sitting
beside him….his wife I ultimately learnt. Sitting isn’t actually an
accurate description by the way;…..she was half on the seat and half
out of it and looking very decidedly unhealthy.

I leant back
and over my seat which immediately crashed into the full recline
position crushing the old guy down onto his wife and causing me to
remember my foot once again as I tried to regain my balance. We went
into the call button pushing exercise again, once more lighting up the
darkened cabin until we received the “what’s the fuss now?” response
from a flight attendant who had obviously drawn the short straw and was
upset about having to leave her curtained off area. Her reaction to my
advice regarding the now very seriously ill old lady was “are you sure
she’s not just sleeping like everybody else?”. She too ran away as it
dawned on her that the look on my face might actually suggest a serious
risk to her own health was imminent.

Eventually we
had most of the flight staff in attendance along with a total of 3
doctors who happened to be on the flight. The Purser from hell arrived
as I was struggling back to my seat and abused me saying “you could be
a little more helpful and bring your seat back into the upright
position sir!” And thus I spent the remaining 4 hours to

Singapore

,
leaning forward in my seat holding the seat back upright so the doctors
could perform their miracles on the poor woman behind me.

One of the
amazing things was there were three unoccupied seats just across from
me. They were marked “Flight Attendants Only”. Despite suggestions from
myself, other passengers and the doctors that those three seats should
be used in a bid to create some space around the sick woman, it was not
until an hour before we touched down in

Singapore

that
the staff eventually relented and allowed the elderly man to sit there.
He was distraught and had been getting in the way of the doctors. At no
time during the flight did any staff take advantage of any of the three
vacant seats.

On my exit from the plane at

Singapore

,
I barrelled the Purser from Hell and related my entire experience. Pain
and rage can be wonderful things; I simply didn’t allow him to get a
word in. I saw fear in his eyes by the time I had finished telling him
exactly what he could do with his head sideways if at all possible. I
think there was now foam coming from my mouth.

Anyway, hobbling through

Singapore

airport
to find a smoking area, I kept hearing my and my colleague’s names
being mentioned by Qantas ground staff. On returning to the gate to
reboard for the

Sydney

leg,
there was an absolute panic amongst all the staff when I rechecked my
boarding pass. We didn’t get an upgrade but we were each allocated more
comfortable seating arrangements. The seven hour leg to

Sydney

with a different crew was uneventful, marked only by excruciating pain from my foot.

Steve from Blacktown

——————————————————-

Woeful service from Darwin

Have
been watching with interest the flood of tirades this week vis a vis
Qantas and it’s disappearing service standards etc. Couldn’t agree more.

Living
in Darwin I frequently have to jump on a plane to the South or East
coast for business or family reasons. I have plenty of horror stories
from these but this one is my personal “best of”. Booked a trip Darwin
– Melbourne return and a separate trip Melbourne – Hobart return
through the Qantas website.

Darwin – Melbourne comprised 2 legs,
the first to Adelaide and the 2nd onto Melbourne. Get to Adelaide to
find that despite my plane having landed on time Qantas had rescheduled
the 2nd leg plane I was booked on to an earlier departure time and it
was already half way to Melbourne.

No explanations or apologies.
Just get in the rather long queue to check in again and we will get you
on a plane to Melbourne as soon as we can. Arrive in Melbourne hours
late.

On the way back I was flying Hobart – Melbourne – Sydney –
Darwin. Check in at Hobart well ahead of time. The Hobart – Melbourne
leg was fine because it was on a separate ticket.

After that
though my booking had completely disappeared. The reason given? I had
been a “no show” on the Adelaide – Melbourne flight on the way down.
“Would that be the same Adelaide – Melbourne flight you rescheduled to
leave while I was still stuck on one of your planes between Adelaide
& Darwin which then saw me having to re-check in and hang around
Adelaide airport for several hours?” I asked without the slightest hint
of sarcasm.

To their credit the consultants I dealt with at both
Adelaide and Hobart airports attempting to sort out these stuff ups did
great jobs. I was however left with the impression that maybe this was
due to them becoming very accustomed to dealing with such matters on a
regular basis.

So like Marcia I now increasingly find myself dealing with Virgin Blue. “No expectation, no disapointment”.

Cheers,
Mike, Darwin.

—————————————————————–

No channels for complaints

Dear Crikey,

I
have been traveling frequently for over 30 years in all classes and
mostly, through necessity, with Qantas.  I have had many fine
flights with Qantas, in fact the vast majority.  I have also had
some appalling flights with Qantas as I have with other airlines. 
I would like to make what I think would be constructive suggestions to
the management of Qantas so that they can improve rather than just
complaining as they are an Australian company and often the only real
alternative for flights particularly if you are locked into their
frequent flyer and Qantas Club programs.

First, there is no
channel to make an official complaint at the air terminal at least in
Sydney .  Arriving at the terminal in Sydney for the 3rd time in 3
months to find the aircraft for the flight to Perth had not even left
the hangar and that there would be a 2 hour delay prompted me to ask
the staff at the gate counter if I could make an official complaint and
the subsequent confusion and phone calls, I was told that there was no
channel.  To provide this service and feedback from management
regarding a legitimate and constructive complaint is becoming standard
in companies with the public as customers and provides a means to turn
a negative into a positive.

Second, staff performance clearly
varies on flights from excellent to insulting.  It is improbable
to me that the really bad staff just turned bad that day.  Qantas
management need customer feedback on staff performance and should
manage them accordingly, not according to seniority or whatever
criteria they presently use.  This management should be linked to
their pay and conditions.

Third, variations and seating as to
class and cost should be treated very carefully and seating counters
should be able to make rebates on the spot.  At present, to
compound the insult of a downgrade, a passenger is asked to “contact a
travel agent” even if the booking was made over the internet.

Fourth,
check in queues at airports really are managed in manner of 18th
century asian traders.  Is it really necessary to have endless
queues.  Passengers will turn up with luggage, it should not be a
surprise. Please give some thought as to how to allocate a seat and
check baggage without all the hassle. I can think of ways why can’t
they. Why do staff have to be behind a desk?  What about remote
technology?

These are just a few of many thoughts but really the
fundamental is to stop treating the company like a holiday camp for
staff and begin to think for the customer.

Allan M

———————————————–

The problem with service levels at Qantas

A departed QANTAS veteran writes:

“Dear Crikey,

As
a former Qantas employee who worked closely with Qantas Flight
Attendants, your item 15 this morning is all so true! It is a real pity
that management, including CEO Geoff Dixon who is currently in America,
don’t listen to real customers instead of the usual sycophants who
surround them in the hope of an upgrade.

Dixon is absolutely out
of touch and has been heard to say “the crew and food are always
fantastic when I fly!” Hullo? There is a huge gap between what goes on,
both in the air and on the ground, and what management “thinks” goes on
in the air as they simply will not listen.  I could spend days
itemising other “tricks” crew (both technical and cabin) get up to and
one day soon may compile such a list for you and your subscribers’
illumination.  In short, Qantas management are arrogant beyond
belief and simply will not listen to any form of criticism. 
Surely they must realise what the public think domestically of them
after the success of the Virgin Blue float?

A disillusioned former toiler with the flying kangaroo”

——————————————————————-

Response from a 30-year Qantas veteran

Hi Crikey,

My
father has been a QANTAS crew member for nearly 30 years and I
forwarded him yesterday’s spray from your ‘former air-crew lover’.
Here’s his (edited) response:

“I had a read of this and I have
to say said it sounded like sour grapes from a dumped lover! There is
some truth in the Bangkok reports…it’s been like that for years –
Mogadon was another popular one. (However, the pills may be out-of-date
or generic, so really not trustworthy; you’d be a fool to take them
yourself or give them to yr friends on a regular basis.)

There is probably some truth in the HR dept keeping on changing the rules. A lot
of
First Class Flight Attendants (not ‘Hosties’ – they haven’t been called
that for years!) are not happy with this new category – not all it was
cracked up to be.

As for the After Parties flights… not
everyone in Qantas crews is gay. Those who are just don’t ask for
rosters that will have them flying after a big event. Some of them will
have projected ahead and be on holidays or LSL at such times.

As
for the UK rosters there aren’t any 10 dayers to LHR anymore. They do
the same trip but there’s less turnaround time at ports now. They need
the deluxe accommodation to sleep and rest their bodies from the
effects of time changes. Jo’burg has a reputation for violence but
there are safety precautions that all crew take for their own safety
while there….and they are careful for their own safety, not to
mention the time changes! The LAX trips are single sector and quite
arduous so if the pax don’t want to go by Qantas they’re very welcome
to go United, then they can compare airlines! It’s a pretty puerile
list of complaints made by this poor ex-lover who wasn’t even game to
put his/her name on their “report”!”

Having observed my father
do this job my entire life I can honestly say that, while it might seem
glamorous, this kind of novelty pales pretty quickly: long shifts,
demanding passengers, time changes and long periods away from home
(esp. when you’re junior and don’t have quite the say you wish you did
over where you end up going) all take their toll. Still, after nearly
thirty years, he still enjoys flying.

Cheers, Michelle

PS
– I can’t enlighten you as to exactly why there are syringe disposal
units in the QANTAS Chairman’s Club lounge but, beyond any possible
illegal uses to which disposed syringes may have been put, an
increasing number of Australians are now diabetic and regularly need to
inject themselves with insulin…

——————————————————————-

We really need open skies in Australia

Absolutely
Outstanding. Irony lives: Your reader Michelle writes in in defence of
QANTAS and quotes her father as saying “if PAX (don’t you just love
that term for customer, quickly de-humanise them as fast as possible”)
don’t want to go by QANTAS they are very welcome to go by United”.

That
just about sums up the attitude of QANTAS and apparently the majority
of its staff.   A couple of other interesting points raised
by your reader, firstly if you are going to critise someone for writing
anonyoumously, for credabilitys sake; its best if you use your full
name when signing off.  Secondly, ‘Hostie’ may be sexist,
politically incorrect but as far as QANTAS is concerned flight
attentant is an oxymoron.

As a long term ex-pat, I can assure
you the first thing expats in asia do when booking flights is ask for
any alternatives to QANTAS, unfortunatety due to the closed skys,
anti-competative policies in Australia we are often forced to utilise
Asia’s worst value and service airline in the region if we want to
return to Oz (try getting into Darwin other than QANTAS).

The
sooner QANTAS’ political flunky Anderson is removed from his position
of bias in the government and true competion is allowed into Australian
skys the better for us all.

In fairness, one final point I did
meet one supervisior who went around the terminal introducing himself
and generally chatting with particularly the older customers prior to
an international flight (ADE-SG), when I commented that is was a nice
touch, he informed me that it used to happen all the time until QANTAS
refused to pay for the extra 20 mins it took.  Still it was a nice
touch pity I’ve only seen it once in the last 50 international flights.

The Expat

—————————————————————-

Landing with a big thump

Inspired by the recent stories I offer the following:

“In
August last year I was at LA airport waiting for a flight to San
Francisco on the Qantas code sharer, which I think is UA. I had just
had nearly 14 hours of unsmiling Qantas ‘service’ where attendants
seemed to be present only when grumpily serving up the standard fare
which pass as meals.

At LA terminal a senior man wearing a
peaked cap in flight uniform, sans jacket, was happily mingling with
passengers at the gate lounge, especially the elderly and infirm,
inquiring about their needs and liaising with flight crew to get them
looked after. This went on for about an hour. The man was jovial, busy
and was happy to answer questions from anyone who approached him. By
the time the flight boarded I had concluded this man was a retired
pilot or perhaps a pilot grounded temporarily or awaiting retirement.

When
we boarded I realised I was wrong, he was the pilot of our flight. He
continued by making customer friendly announcements twice during the
flight, once naming all the attendants telling the customers what they
would be doing to help them.

Contrast this to the standard
imperious parade which constitutes the boarding and disembarking of the
crews of Qantas flights. These chocolate soldiers of the air breeze
past their human cargo apparently determined to avoid eye contact at
both ends of the journey. Particularly galling at disembarkation when
the cattle are queuing up as they stroll through their special channel.

And
more. In November I was returning to Sydney from Melbourne on a Qantas
flight, the weather was good and winds normal. We had to ‘go round’ a
couple of times perhaps because of congestion but it was mid-day, and
who knows, there were no announcements from the cockpit. We landed with
an almighty thump, but still no announcement from the cockpit.

As
we taxied to the terminal the cabin crew announcer came on the
intercom. ‘….passengers are advised to take care when opening the
overhead lockers as luggage will definitely have shifted during THAT
landing’. No doubt there about the relationship between cabin and
cockpit.

I prefer the Qantas safety record and the UA service, why can’t I have both?

Quentin Clubbie”

———————————————–

Rude about my 2yo son

I
checked in at the Qantas counter last week with my 2 year old son for
an early international flight (checked in at 5.30am).  He was
being a normal 2 year old – playing and laughing but not being naughty
or crying.  The woman at the check-in counter, who seemed to be on
type of self-imposed go slow, made a comment that my son was being far
too noisy for that time of the morning.  We were the only people
at the counter.  I could not believe how rude and self-important
she was.

———————————————–

Cracking the Chairman’s Club by accident

About
15 years ago I got a bolt out of the blue letter from Qantas telling me
I was now a member of their Chairman’s Lounge, and myself a very low
ranking silver class frequent flyer, economy class as well except for
the occasional upgrade, the Lounge was fantastic, help yourself to the
grog, no time restrictions on that, fantastic nibblies and practically
always an upgrade to first class, with very sincere apologies if it was
only business class.

I thought this honour was bestowed on me
because at the time I was logging about 5,000 air miles a week but I
crashed to earth seven years later when it was discovered that my name
was the same as a high ranking Australian diplomat. Still, it was good
while it lasted, but I still wonder how my namesake would have felt
sitting in the Qantas Club while I was enjoying his privileges, just
goes to show that Qantas really don’t check up to hard to ensure they
have the right person.
 
Cheers, It was great while it lasted
 
———————————————–

The imperious Qantas staff parade

Hi Crikey,

Just read the interesting article about the despicable attitude and service experienced by fellow QF
passengers
and former staff. Can’t agree more about this – “Contrast this to the
standard imperious parade which constitutes the boarding and
disembarking of the crews of Qantas flights. These chocolate soldiers
of the air breeze past their human cargo apparently determined to avoid
eye contact at both ends of the journey.

Particularly galling at disembarkation when the cattle are queuing up as they stroll through their special channel.”

Whenever
I travel I loathe having to go through the whole embarkation process
where they grimace at you as you board. Their patronising method of
telling you how to insert your pass in the gate readers and then having
to tell you which aisle you need to go down when its easily deduced
from your boarding pass really gets on my nerves.

I once refused
to show my pass as I knew which aisle to go down but the man from
Taylor Square made show it anyway. They even do this on single-aisle
narrow-bodied aircraft. At least the mutton-dressed-as-lamb that used
to be on Ansett had a smidge more sincerity with their ‘welcome abord’.

Check
out the website A Yobbo’s View for a giggle about a guy from Perth’s
attitude towards Qantas – it’s a hoot. Also, I recommend you have a
look at airlinemeals.net and look at how many below 5’s Qantas’ boxed
meals get.

Anthony
Heathcote NSW

———————————————–

Why I fly Virgin Blue

The
planes are smelly and rattly, magazine is dog-eared or non-existent, no
newspapers available, headphones are crackly, food is just not, coffee
is still shite (has been for 20 years), citiflyer rip off service (no
skybridge at Perth, lets just walk across the sodding tarmac like the
Virgins so we may as well fly with the red baron), business seats
crapola (look like the same as economy except with different covering,
certainly no bigger nor roomier now), Dixon taking very good heed of
the Telstra mobile phone contract jargon re using frequent flyer miles
– bloody impenetrable gobbledygook when trying to find out how many and
what one gets.

So now I fly Virgin, pay my $$, do the business
and at least know I am not being ripped off (no expectations, no
disappointment)….plus can take my own champers and cheesey
comestibles for in-flight comfort.

Qantarse – need I say more!

Cheers Marcia

———————————————–

What Chairman’s Lounge really offers
 
Early
last year my father was ‘crowned’ as a Chairmans Lounge member. 
You spouse also automatically receives the Chairmans Lounge status (the
spouses’ Chairmans Lounge status does not affect FF level.)
 
He
was previously Platinum but now he notices he receives a total
different level of service.  When you call the ‘ultra’ priority
131 number only offered to Platinum and CL customers his call has
always being received within 5 seconds 24/7.   When
travelling from Cairns/Sydney and we requested an upgrade, a lady in
her 30’s (with 2 children under 5) were re-allocated seats in the
private economy section (only 2 rows) on (some) 767-300 aircraft. 
The flight attendants completed all of my requests and of my parents
with a smile and rushed to do so.  In our flight in particular we
were told at the check-in a abnormally large number of Chairmans Lounge
members were on the flight and that people (including the lady w/kids)
were shifted.
 
When travelling normally he flies Business
Class (First class were available) he is allocated the window seat in
first row every single time (even 747-400 sectors).  Qantas FA’s
who know of his status (due to being informed and a ‘priority passenger
list’) do serve him more promptly and perform all requests.  Have
you ever wondered why other people surrounding you are served more
promptly.  These are paying high-revenue-generating
customers.  Qantas provide the best service to the most important
customers.  He has never had a complaint to there service.
 
Why
don’t you criticising idiots look at your selves, you have strong
opinions about service (and so on) but to Qantas your the average
Jo-Blo, not a person generating $75,000 in revenue each year. 
Maybe earn platinum status and PAY for Business Class/First Class and
you may see a difference.
 
Anon

———————————————–

LAX chaos and the Qantas cowboy pilots
 
There
were dozens of disgruntled Qantas passengers at LAX today. Two flights
arrived at around the same time. Passengers on QF25 from Auckland were
told they had to stay on the aircraft while others, from QF11, made
their way to customs. This was despite impassioned pleas from a number
of passengers to be allowed off to attempt to make very tight
connections to other parts of the US and Canada.

The customer
service manager gave a very firm PA announcement to the effect that
Qantas ground staff were ‘steadfast in their denials’ for connecting
passengers to be allowed to disembark. Cabin crew just shrugged their
shoulders and did nothing to help passengers who ended up missing their
flights. Not their problem, as they swanned through immigration off to
a few days by the hotel pool. Needless to say, dozens of QF passengers
then had to rebook missed connections and many ended up taking all
sorts of weird and wonderful flights to try and make their final
destinations on the same day. To top it off, one the baggage doors on
the plane was apparently malfunctioning, meaning a long wait for
luggage to clear customs, further compounding the fiasco.
 
On
the same flight, the QF captain dissed the new US requirement that
passengers not congregate in the cabin, near toilets, during flights
into the US. Shortly into the flight, the second officer read a very
terse message saying “we have been told by the US authorities to tell
you this … “  Later, the captain came on and referring to the
earlier message, said “you’ve all paid good money to use the facilities
on this plane so basically do want you want”. The usual crowds formed
around the toilets without any intervention by cabin crew.

The
US requirement is typically OTT, but to hear the QF captain basically
tell the US authorities to bugger off raised eyebrows, particularly
among the American passengers on board who have gotten quite used to
all manner of security-related impositions on the air travelling public.
 
Martin
Los Angeles

———————————————–

Qantas gives the thumbs up to flying phobia passengers

I
would like to offer yet another perspective to the Qantas debates
currently raging. I’ve had a flying phobia for the last ten years.
Until recently, the most recent flight I had done was 3 years ago
one-way to Sydney. On presenting myself as a quivering mess to the
checkin desk, the staff listened with concern, and arranged for me to
be the last boarding the flight. Once in, a friendly flight attendant
came and said she had been given permission (as an ‘extra’ on this
flight) to sit with me for take-off and landing, and in fact was able
to remain with me for the whole flight, holding my hand, handing me
tissues and basically taking a lot of trouble to keep me as comfortable
as possible.

Then late last year I did a fear of flying
course, which is run by a group of female pilots in association with
Qantas. The course is excellent, and recently I took myself on a return
Qantas flight to Sydney. On flashing my ‘fear of flying’ card to the
purser when boarding each flight, I got the most caring and thoughtful
attention from the crews. The pilot on one of the flights made a lot of
weather announcements, pre-empting most of the mild turbulence we
experienced. On both flights the purser took the time to sit down and
have a chat to me and encourage me to persevere in overcoming my fear.
These attentions plus the instruction I’d received during the course
all helped for me to stay in control during both flights.

Not
being a frequent flyer (yet!!) I can’t comment on Qantas compared to
other airlines. And I’m sure that people might argue that the cabin
crew just wanted to make sure I didn’t start clawing the window off and
that’s why they were so lovely. But from the point of view of a ‘needy’
passenger, I was really impressed and gratified by the service I
received. Maybe when I’m a bit more used to it again I might start
noticing dog-eared magazines, right now I just appreciated the support
I felt from the staff.

By the way, this weekend I’m off on a
flight over the Yarra Valley in a small plane with some of my
classmates from the course…organised and piloted by the Qantas pilot
who was one of the instructors during the course, completely out of his
desire to encourage us to get more used to flying. Now that’s service!

AG, Victoria

———————————————–

Bronze: How low can you go

The
comments about Qantas and its remarkable service ethic have provided a
chortle this morning.   Whilst I can’t recall a “good” flight
for quite some time (I think it might have been TAA or the first
incarnation of Australian…), a recent experience was interesting.

Sydney
to Melbourne on a Saturday.  As usual, I arrived an hour before
the flight, slipped my frequent flyer thingy in to the electronic check
in.  Seat allocation was lousy, somewhere near the arse end of the
aircraft and in a middle seat.  Why do Qantas persist in seeking
seating preferences when its patently obvious they’re ignored.  I
zipped across to an empty check in desk and asked for assistance with
the seat allocation (being middle aged, equipped with dodgy knees and a
bit over six foot means an aisle seat is usually a good idea…). 
Ms Po Face looked at my ticket and said, “Its a full flight, and you’re
only a bronze flyer…and its a discount ticket..nothing I can
do..”.  If only she’d resumed filing her nails…
 
The
other slight oddity is if you use the new check in facility, the only
proof of ID is your credit card or frequent flyer card which is
inserted into the machine.  At no stage is your ID ever checked by
a human….unlike the US domestic and most international flights…hmmm
 
Duncan McNab

———————————————–

Don’t bother with the baby

 

Flying to Europe with an 18 month old, we requested one of the
bassinets that airlines provide that are secure and attached to the
wall at the beginning of cattle class. His first ever
flight so we were concerned he would be comfortable and safe. I
confirmed the request with Qantas before taking the Sydney to
Singapore leg of the flight and lo and behold when we boarded the plane
there was no bassinette available.

On a packed plane there was
not even a spare seat. Baby had to go on the floor at the feet of
myself and a couple of strangers in the middle section of the plane.
There are no seatbelts or restraints on the floor of an aeroplane. And
because we hadn’t bought a seat for him we were told there was no
allocated meal. Warm milk was totally out of the question. I finally
had to settle for some sandwiches and juice, grudgingly provided.

Our return flight was with Singapore Airlines and the cabin staff
went out their way to shower my son with toys and treats, warm milk and
food on demand, plus there was no risk of him flying around the cabin
should there have been an emergency.

 

VC

———————————————–

Qantas upgrades

I
am a Platinum Frequent Flyer. I travelled from Sydney to Brisbane last
week, having purchased an economy class ticket over the internet. I
tried unsuccessfully a number of times prior to the flight to use some
of my upgrade credits to get a business class seat. I tried again at
the lounge in Sydney, only minutes before final boarding, to be told
that “business class is completely full and there are no spare seats”.
We took off and – surprise, surprise – there were empty seats in
business class.

In itself this incident was only a minor
irritation, but it did leave a sour taste in my mouth and is
symptomatic of the increasingly poor service provided by Qantas.
Frequent flyers are continually issued with upgrade credits. Yet they
cannot be used even when it is clear, just prior to take-off, that
there are empty business class seats. One has to question their value.

Robert Thomson

———————————————–

Bad experience became a staff training example

QF
recently asked about my flight plans for the year ahead as they are
reviewing my FF Silver status (downwards).  I do have Gold Kris
Flyer status (for the 3rd year in a row) however, simply because I can
get any flight and connection on partner airlines at a reasonable
price.  (Sadly, our business cannot afford to fly me business
class, unlike “Anon” and his fatuous family, but we do spend $35K+/year
so try earning gold status on economy tickets you prat).   QF
however, has been unable to through book a round the world flight on 3
separate occasions this year.  It became so ridiculous that my
business travel agents used the bad experience as a training example
for staff.  SQ service might be slightly antiseptic, but it is
consistent. There is a ripple effect arising from QF service levels.

Richard
Perth, WA

———————————————–

Finally, a positive qantas letter

I
have the following comments re travel on Qantas which may interest you.
I am happy for you to publish these comments. You will gather from
these comments that Qantas for me is an outstanding service provider.

For
some 18 years I have flown with Qantas as a vegan and can only talk in
glowing terms about Qantas’ service and committment to supporting my
diet. Flights on which vegan food has been served include most domestic
routes out of Melbourne and many international ones. International
flights include travel to/from Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore, London,
Frankfurt, Beunos Aires, Los Angeles, New York, Johannesburg, Auckland,
Harare and Fiji. There are probably others as well. I have been served
vegan food in all three classes, ie first, business and economy.
Congratulations to Qantas and thanks for making my eating on board so
enjoyable.

For some 16 years I have flown with Qantas as a dad,
mostly as a single dad. These flights commenced when my daughter was a
very young infant. Again, I can only congratulate Qantas and thank
Qantas for outstanding service and support as a parent, both on the
ground and in the air. On many occasions I have been impressed beyond
expectations by the way Qantas flight attendants have assisted me as a
parent and voluntarily made recommendations and shown initiative
towards my daughter. This applies to serving meals, providing
entertainment material, toiletries etc. Such outstanding service was
received in both economy and business class. Well done Qantas and thank
you.

———————————————–

Qantas: Less FF points for long distance travel

It
was some time ago (just after the demise of Ansett?) when Qantas
announced their first big change in the FF program, with the first
change from using kilometers to miles (the industry standard, they
stated).  The conversion rate then was 1km equalled .7 points, but
now you get .62 points per kilometer.  The consolation was you
received a minimum of 1000 points for any single flight – a boost for
all those doing the business trips between Canberra, Melbourne and
Sydney.  In reading the latest missive from Qantas, you could be
forgiven for believing that the “One World” alliance is close to being
torn apart with the points received from travel on partner airline
routes being scaled back to 25% for that route instead of 100%.  I
can’t help but think this change in awarding a minimum # of points for
a flight is the reason behind the devaluing of FF points.

Having
just come back to Australia on a round-the-world ticket, I’m amazed at
the variance in checkin counter arrangements.  In San Francisco,
American Airlines has an express checkin counter for those with
e-tickets and the requisite one or two bags of non-overweight or
oversized luggage.  This queue moves quickly and efficiently, the
only problem being this mode of airline travel doesn’t seem to be
familiar to enough people.  We have e-tickets here in Australia so
it’s just a matter of time before we get the electronic baggage
checking.  Nothing like e-tickets in Europe that I saw nor the
express checkin counters from SFO.

To finish off, that trip
started with an inbound to LAX, where sitting opposite the hosties, I
heard them remark on landing about how smooth it was and believe me, it
was easily the smoothest landing I’ve ever had the pleasure of sitting
through – there was NO bump.  I’m not particularly worried though,
it was a once off and probably some ex-military pilot or similarly
experienced pilot. Although I’m quite distressed that Qantas and
American Airlines don’t have better coordination betwe en connecting
flights out of LAX.  I don’t think I’ve ever made one that’s been
inside a 3 hour window – the Qantas flight is always late.  Why
are travel agents allowed to book connecting flights when you’ve got
less than a 50% chance in making the connection?  Getting on
connecting flights to the East Coast of the USA from LAX is
particularly hard if the flights are even a little late but having to
deal with reticketing and the angst of wondering if you’ll get a seat
and make it is just more than we should need to deal with on a regular
basis.

QFF

———————————————–

Qantas – Australian Slang For Rip off?

I
am in Karratha, WA which is about 1600 kms north of Perth. We have the
joy of being serviced by Qantas. With all the development going on in
the North West Shelf gas projects it must be a very lucrative route
even mores so since the demise of Ansett.

The flight time is
about two hours and for that you get the ride and half a salad
roll.  The cost is about $860 to $784 return depending on how soon
ahead you book.  The fully flexible return fare Perth to Melbourne
return is $741.

That’s right. You fly more than twice as far
with more flexibility more tucker (mixed blessing) and pay up top $100
dollars LESS for Perth to Melbourne return.

So do the letters
QANTAS really stand for mean greedy rip off merchants? Does QANTAS see
this as being a good corporate citizenship? Are we the wealth creators
in remote Australia subsidising (yet again) you city people?

Roll on Virgin or any other competitor.  By the way the service is only modestly reliable so we are not paying for quality.

Peter

———————————————–

A tall order for Qantas

I
was gobsmacked last year by QANTAS call centre rudeness when I tried to
reserve bulk head seating on a round the world ticket with QANTAS and
partners.

I am 6ft 4in and broad shouldered so even an aisle seat is a problem because the trollies knock me every time they pass.

Basically, I was told if I wanted a seat with legroom I should buy a business class ticket!

How different to the service at Virgin. Roll on Virgin International flights

Ed
Victoria

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