Feb 25, 2004

Qantas staff warned about rorting

Is Qantas in business for staff or customers?

Sealed Section - February 18

A disgruntled Qantas customer writes:

“I have just returned from the United States and travelled on Qantas through Los Angeles airport.

While the new terminal facility is a very impressive and clean, the surly and disinterested Qantas staff, make for a very unimpressive experience.

I also observed a very pushy Australian Qantas staff member, with her husband at the check-in counter, waving her Qantas identity card and shoving copious quantities of luggage through the system, and then securing first-class seats for herself and co-traveller at the expense of a number of other regular business class passengers who were attempting to upgrade to first-class using their increasingly devalued points.

The ground and cabin staff were all fawning all over this fortunate couple.

I can only hope that the Qantas employee by the name of McCulloch had a very pleasant flight at the expense of those fare-paying passengers who keep her in her job.

When will Qantas get real and look after of those who pay to keep the company in the air?

Qantas staff warned about rorting

Sealed Section - February 25

It seems like the staff at Qantas are expressing their unhappiness through misuse of staff travel. Check out this memo that went out to staff on Monday afternoon:

Message - Breaches of Staff Travel Policy
Due to several recent incidents, I would like to remind all employees that the following practices are serious breaches of Staff Travel Policy:
  1. Creation of 'phantom' commercial bookings to "protect" (ie block from sale) seats for staff travel use.
  2. Manipulation of the staff travel onload/upgrade priority in the reservations or departure control systems.
  3. Travel by a beneficiary who is no longer eligible for staff travel but holds a ticket issued before eligibility status was removed.
  4. Adding, as a travel beneficiary, a person who has been dismissed from Qantas, or is currently suspended from the use of Staff Travel.
Audit processes are in place to monitor fraudulent practices such as those mentioned above. Such breaches of policy will result in disciplinary action which may include, as has recently happened, termination of employment.

Please ensure you are aware of your responsibilities in relation to Staff Travel Policy. All employees are encouraged to familiarise themselves with this Policy at http://qfintranet.qantas.com.au/stafftravel/policy or call Staff Travel for clarification on particular issues.

Terry Byrne
Head of Remuneration and Programs

CRIKEY: We can’t see the policy because it’s on the Qantas intranet but this memo clearly suggests that a lot of staff have been shafting paying customers and rorting the system. Can anyone provide more details on what free or discounted flights Qantas staff at different levels are entitled to? For instance, Qantas chairman Margaret Jackson was presumably delivered to John Travolta’s recent birthday party in first class. Does she declare the value of this as a fringe benefit? It certainly doesn't appear in the annual report as that only covers cash fees, super and the like.


Subscriber feedback:

Re: details on free or discounted Qantas staff flights

Because discounts are usually respected between carriers, there's probably nothing spectacular in their policy.  Or at least nothing substantially different from any other carrier's policy.

Close affiliates (eg. British Airways to Qantas) would respect their normal staff discount known in the trade as 'ID90' (industry discount 90).  That's 90% off, not 90% of, if you see what I mean.  Less chummy carriers would still offer some respectable discounts to staff from other airlines, from 80 down.

BA / Qantas policy was (as of 5 years ago, and probably hasn't changed):
  • Each employee can have as many flights as they like at ID90 (which explains why about 2,500 people applied for a cleaning role at the terminal in Cairns about two decades ago - before such jobs were smart-sourced out to non-perk-demanding contractors),
  • Each employee can nominate an immediate family member for a duration of 12 months at a time, starting at the anniversary of your commencement date, who can also receive these discounts (for use within that 1 year period only). They don't have to fly with the employee.
  • Employees who didn't 'get home' on time were severely reprimanded, and one of the requirements for travel perks was that you booked two routes back.  Obviously as a staff traveller, you're the first person to get shafted by the 103% over-booking policy most airlines adopt.
  • Making phantom bookings to increase your likelihood of a seat (or even worse, the likelihood of being bumped up into business class) was cause for dismissal, and rightly so -- if for no other reason than it showed an immense amount of stupidity to make such an easily traced false booking on a flight you just happen to be on.  Auditors only have to identify the flights staff were on, and then track down the handful of no-shows from those flights -- both painfully easy tasks.

While these discounts make flight really quite affordable, there are two things to keep in mind.  First, most non-executive staff found the discounts a huge motivating factor, up until the moment they realised they weren't paid enough to actually eat anything or sleep anywhere when they got to their destination.  This may go some way to explaining the stereotype that surrounds airline industry staff. 

Second, the discount is calculated from the normal 'RRP', if you will, cost for that leg.  So while you and I can both suffer the joys of living in a short person's world while enjoying a cramped Melbourne/Sydney hop for just $89, the ID90 on that flight would not be $9, but rather $45 - half of the actual commonly available cost.

Same thing for useful trips too - you can get $1200 Sydney/Heathrow returns, but discounts would be calculated on the carrier's ~$2,600 full fare.  So it's still very good, but not quite as good as it sounds.


Qantas staff are the bottom of the food chain

I was forwarded this story by a co-worker.  I am a travel beneficiary of a Qantas staff member and just want to make some points. 

While it is unfortunate that this particular customer was on the receiving end of bad service, I can only highlight that in my experience of travelling as a beneficiary has been that we are really treated as the bottom of the food chain, and we accept it. 

Many staff (cannot comment for upper management) travel on stand by.  This means that if there is no seat on the plane - you do not get on, as simple as that.  There was an instance last year where are large amount of staff were stuck in Singapore for many days.

We understand that there are full fare paying passengers that have a greater right to board an aircraft than staff. There is a policy for travelling that all staff must adhere to.  My partner and I follow it, and would not think of otherwise, as we know that staff travel is a privilege that comes with working for the company.  If there are staff that rort the system - they are sure to be weeded out and it looks like Qantas are on the ball with dealing with it.

While I cannot divulge the details on the discounted flights that staff receive, I will state that we all the same amount of airport and government charges and taxes as full fare paying passengers.  Many large companies offer benefits to their staff - the major banks offer discounted loans to staff for instance.  It's just that the staff benefit of discounted travel is more glamorous I guess.

The frequently flying Qantas staff get the perks

A relatively minor but corroborating story about your QF staff travel rort stuff. 

Took the wife to Sydney on the weekend for a rare treat. I'm up every other week so it was nice to have her along as well. Being booked on the 6am Sunday flight, thought I'd try a points upgrade to Business.  The lady in the Club tried very hard but in response to queries on the phone about the bookings for business and "us", she was told, yes, there were seats but no, there would be no catering, so I gave it a miss. 

On the way through to our seats up the back though, it was obvious that most of the happy chappies in the sharp end were staff.  I'm glad they ate well, but it's not a good look guys, and so obvious to those of us who support your airline, only to be thwarted in trying to use the incentives to continue to do so.

A loyal (get it) subscriber

Flying "Crew Class"

Among my group of friends and work colleagues, Qantas domestic business class has come to be known as "Crew Class", there being so many staff in the big seats on some flights. I travel a lot and usually get seat 1A, except when there are crew to be ferried around. I know they have to move staff all over the place, but, frankly, that's because the rest of us are paying, so maybe we should get a little priority. The thing that really gets up my shirt is that some of the working flight attendants spend so much time talking to the travelling crew that all the paying customers get less service. This is worse the later in the day the flight is leaving. By the 8.30 out of Melbourne it can be like a party that you haven't been invited to.


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