Roger Fry writes: Re. “Dear Qantas: Ideas from a fed-up traveller” (yesterday, item 27). I read the article by Adam Jacoby. I too use Qantas a fair bit but haven’t had his unfortunate experiences. Perhaps he has to play the system a bit better to get the best results. Here are some ideas for him:

  1. Try some different departure times. The ones he uses obviously don’t work. Why persist? Almost every flight I use leaves on time – the exception recently was a plane that was held in Melbourne for 30 minutes until the fog began to lift at the destination airport of Canberra.
  2. Forget you ever heard of frequent flyer points. You want something for nothing – it doesn’t exist.
  3. Book on line. You can book when you feel like it, and save hundreds of dollars per week by picking flights which are often heavily discounted.
  4. Enjoy the Qantas people. Most have been there for ages, and have seen it all before. They have a sense of humour, and they appreciate patience, courtesy and gratitude for a job well done. When I stagger back after a long day they still can’t do enough to help me such as fetching my car in the valet car park.
  5. Don’t expect to get Ansett-style attention any more. Qantas people just delivery the service differently.

Rob Pickering writes: As a fellow frequent flyer (usually weekly, sometimes more), until a recent relocation overseas, on a regional QantasLINK route (Albury to Sydney) I cannot count the amount of times that a flight has been late, delayed or cancelled. To get a full business day in ex Albury, you must leave at 6:30am and come home at 6:55pm. Unfortunately the planes often leave at 7:00am or later and often do not return until after 8pm most days. This means returning home at almost 9:50pm after leaving your home at 5:45am hoping that today will be the day the flights are on time. It also does not enable you to schedule business meetings very effectively. A 9am appointment always comes with the disclaimer – if the plane is on time. That’s not even dealing with their international woes – I had never actually flown Qantas internationally until 3 weeks ago when I returned to Australia for business and I could not fly Singapore Airlines as they were fully booked (any wonder with the story I’m about to tell you). As a preface to this, I’ve actually flown Air China and for anyone who has flown them before, they are possibly the worst airline in the world (you know it’s bad when you’re sitting in the business class cabin and the stewards are smoking in the galley) but I’d actually prefer to fly Air China after this experience with Qantas. I won’t rehash everything that went wrong, but I’ll attach in a text document below the email that I sent to the Qantas staff outlining my issues and also their return letter from the Customer Care email address (which took four phone calls to obtain). It’s nice to know that any problems you might have with Qantas even if you write a detailed and comprehensive email is responded to with a “thanks for telling us, we’ll do what we can to fix it” email without any sort of recourse offered by them. I won’t be flying Qantas either domestically or internationally again.

David Goldstein writes: So Crikey wants gripes about Australia’s airlines? Well, how about compliments? Having flown on around a dozen domestic Qantas flights this year, only one was late, and that was due to fog at the destination. In fact, I have no problems with Qantas and always have a preference for flying Qantas. As for Adam Jacoby, doesn’t he have better things to do? De-icing machines in Melbourne? They would be so rarely used, what’s the point of having multiples? Hasn’t Crikey got real news and information to report rather than this garbage? You criticise The Australian for garbage – take a look at yourselves.

Jen Dillon writes: I fly regularly with Qantas back and forth to Perth leaving Friday, returning Sunday, for family reasons. The constant delays in departure and subsequent delays in arrival (adding on the two or three hour time difference) make this “long hop” very, very tiring. On almost every flight, I have also had to wait extraordinary times after landing to recover my bags – the worst being a 90 minute delay at Tulla when passengers were told that the storage lockers couldn’t be unlocked. The last two trips I flew Virgin – leave on time, arrive on time, get your bags and get out of here. Pure pleasure and cheaper to boot. Yeah sure, you have to buy your own coffee, but at least it’s hot and delivered with a smile.

John Carney writes: My gripe is not about airlines as such, except to the extent that airlines are in cahoots with the security procedures at airports. On Monday I left Sydney for Singapore. That morning, I had seen my skin specialist and received treatment for some melanomas. So I was being a good boy carrying some sunscreen with me. I know its decades too late for sunscreen in my case, but I thought better late than never. I attempted to carry a 115ml plastic bottle of sunscreen in my cabin baggage. The fact some of the sunscreen had been used was of no consequence. The rules are that containers of liquid must have a maximum capacity of 100ml. My sunscreen was unceremoniously thrown in the bin. Imagine my dismay when immediately after clearing this “security” I had to walk past several shops selling duty-free liquor in bottles obviously larger than 100 ml. So now it’s official. When travelling don’t buy sunscreen. Spend the money on alcohol instead.

Danielle Percy writes: I wish to completely support the venting about Qantas. In the last six months, I have travelled overseas three times- once with Air New Zealand, Once with Pacific Blue, and Once with Qantas. The only bad experience I have had is with Qantas… On an eight hour flight I pressed the hostie call button, which was answered forty minutes later. I didn’t get an apology, so I asked for a bottle of water. I was told that lunch was going to be served in fifteen minutes so could I wait? In total… 1 hour for the bottle of water. One of my fellow passengers pressed the call button just to double check that it was ok to turn her laptop on, and was told by the hostie who answered the call that it was ok. To which she then added if only there were more people like you… you don’t want anything. Following this rather sub-standard service, I sent an email to Qantas… but was told that as it was hard to identify the problem and particular staff involved it could do nothing. Despite the inclusion of my flight number, and name- thus identifying where I sat. So after that experience, and lack of response despite my complaint, I will only be flying with the kangaroo when there is no other possible option. If Qantas is going to pass itself off as the quality alternative to Australia’s budget carriers, regardless of it’s international competitors, it is going to take more than upgraded lounges and a slick advertising campaign.

Mark writes: My partner is a Qantas ground staffer! She loves the airline, and loves her job, she works hard, but is totally disillusioned by the Qantas management, and who can blame her. Consider what they have to deal with on a daily basis; Passenger abuse because of delays and cancelled flights –including physical assault on rare occasions. I mean to say, it is management that dictate aircraft changes (they put on smaller aircraft, and then say sorry we oversold as they offload previously confirmed passengers). Passenger confusion over self serve check-ins. I mean they are a total waste of space, unless you do not have baggage. If you have baggage, you have to get your seat allocation in one place, and then go elsewhere to check your bags in; it takes easily 4 times as long. Geoff Dixon (should be number 1) this is the man who off loaded a full fare paying first class passenger so he could get on the aircraft. He should have gone after the failed private equity bid which he instigated in the first place. Qantas limiting customer agent staff numbers to critical levels at the airport (I wonder if they limit the numbers to such an extent at corporate level). Then complaining bitterly about the fact the staff has to do overtime. Qantas services being replaced by Jetstar without notifying passengers. It appears to me that the current Qantas management are great at stuffing up a great airline. The difference between Qantas and VBA really was service that is no longer the case. As for me I have QF Frequent flyer points, but I can’t use them, how can you, they will only take you to places you don’t want to go, when you can’t go anyway. Seriously, why do they offer them, it is a total scam!

Ray Quigley writes: My wife, and I, are frequent travellers to Bali to attend to our business. Three  years ago, my wife travelled extensively throughout SE-Asia on a FULL paid Qantas ticket. The last leg to Australia had a QF number. When she arrived at Denpasar airport, she was mystified to hear she was now going to Australia on the ‘newest airline called (sorry I actually can’t remember, but it was briefly based in Cairns- Australian ‘something’). However, the simple little ‘gaffe’ was that my wife was refused entry to the Qantas lounge in Denpasar, as she was not booked on a Qantas flight. Simply, they made a ‘promise’ that they never intended to keep. And show no remorse. We do anything we can to take an alternative airline.

Stephen Morris writes: Last month I travelled to China on business, I flew by China Eastern, a flight I was not especially looking forward to since over the last twenty years I have found Chinese airlines to be inferior in service and comfort to other airlines I have flown with such as Qantas, JAL or Singapore Airlines. However, the leg room was about double that I got on the last Qantas international flight I took, the service was excellent (the air crew seemed to be enjoying their job much more than the Qantas staff I have observed lately, I don’t think they feel very appreciated or secure in their job with current management). The food was excellent, if a bit Chinesey. Safety was also a feature of Qantas I always greatly appreciated over other airlines with their excellent maintenance system that was surely the best in the world. However, with current management deciding that Qantas profits are too low (only the second most profitable airline) and obviously safety is far too high and too expensive (hence outsourcing to low cost, much lower standard alternatives). I am greatly concerned that with the current policy of rapidly raising profits and rapidly lowing safety and maintenance standards, that Qantas’s unblemished crash record may not last much longer. For all these reasons I am no longer the committed supporter of our ‘national’ airline but embarrassed by its decline in service and safety and sadly looking for better alternatives.

Wayne Robinson writes: I’m not of such a height (179cm) that I find standard economy particularly uncomfortable, were it not for the idiot in the seat in front, who almost invariably decides to recline his seat, the moment the plane reaches cruising altitude, and leaves it in that position for the entire duration. As a result, I lose whatever space I had. In revenge, I try to kick the seat in front whenever I get up, hoping that the perpetrator is asleep. The airline that introduces non-reclining seats in economy would gain my everlasting gratitude.

Kathryn Lucas writes: Recently we flew home by Qantas from London, the service was OK and the seats were lacking in leg room. But, we flew Singapore Airlines to London and the service was fantastic all the way and the leg room was definitely better than Qantas. We will fly SA whenever we can in future as they are so much better than Qantas.

Peter Fray

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