Less than a week after it was caught demanding a higher airfare from a nurse that broke her journey on a Jetstar flight to look after a dying passenger, the airline is making page one headlines in New Zealand for disgraceful conduct following the Christchurch earthquake.

These two reports are the more puzzling because at the highest executive level Jetstar’s responses to natural disasters like the Queensland floods and cyclone Yasi have been prompt, humane, considerate and manifestly genuine.

What is the cause of this disconnection between front line staff and management in situations like this?

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One argument could be that going back to its first days in 2004, Jetstar’s operations were predicated on not touching the Qantas ethos of full service air travel, and the maximisation of additional charges and inflexible booking and check-in processes was hard wired into the Jetstar customer relations culture.

If so it is high time for re-education of the front line. Management has set a high standard of compassion and co-operation in these matters, but the message isn’t getting through.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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