Jetstar was awarded Low-Cost Carrier of the Year. At least that was what they told me five minutes into the 20-minute, pre-recorded “on hold” message yesterday. My sister rang from Honolulu that morning to let me know her flight to Sydney had been delayed four hours and was uncertain about the arrival of the connecting flight to Melbourne. I too was left up in the air when I found Jetstar’s website wasn’t forthcoming with travel updates. I rang the listed helpline. The operator hoped the flight could make up time and arrive in Sydney as scheduled. The plane to Melbourne would wait.

For four hours?

In Honolulu, passengers had sat on the grounded, delayed plane for two-and-a-half hours before disembarking due to a technical hitch. Refreshment vouchers were offered. The food venue was a considerable distance so the plane was delayed a further one-and-a-half hours while passengers made their way back to the gate. During the flight, passengers were informed there would be the Jetstar support team waiting at Sydney airport to redirect them to connecting flights. The support team must have been delayed; they didn’t appear.

I revisited the Low-Cost Carrier of the Year’s call-centre in the evening for the obligatory 20-minute wait. When I spoke to the operator, having explained the situation again, I felt relieved, then anxious, when he told me the flight was no longer listed so must have arrived. I drove to the airport. I briefly saw the flight listed as “LANDED, gate 24” on the boards. No sister. If there is a Jetstar information desk at Tullamarine it’s not obvious. I joined the check-in queue. I waited. They sent me to a different queue. I waited. The operator was as helpful as she could be but Jetstar flights, from that time on, went straight to Avalon. The only flights from Sydney to Tullamarine would be with Qantas. She couldn’t access Qantas information. She suggested the Qantas information desk.

If there is a Qantas information desk at Tullamarine it’s not obvious but was probably closed for the night. I asked for help at the International sales desk. The operator could locate my sister on the Jetstar flight from Honolulu. She made some suggestions about flights to Melbourne that night but couldn’t be certain. She advised me Qantas don’t give out passenger information.

I drove home. I rang Jetstar’s call-centre. I was informed the wait-time would be longer due to a higher volume of calls. It was suggested, instead of waiting, I could visit Jetstar’s website (see above). I waited.

The operator needed to check the passenger list, would I mind being put on hold? On his return he told me he couldn’t access Qantas data, however he could put me through to Qantas.

Qantas business hours were not the hours I was calling in. I held on in disbelief — I had been put through to a dead end. Fortunately it wasn’t, after a few moments I joined the Qantas call-centre queue for 20 minutes. The operator asked if I would mind being put on hold while he called Jetstar. As it turns out I couldn’t have asked for a better operator, he located my sister and her connecting flight to Melbourne. The Low-Cost Carrier of the Year should give that man a raise.