It isn’t just self-booking domestic travellers who find dealing with Qantas odd or baffling.

A travel agent has sent in this account of his frustrations with the airline, which he says he works hard at supporting.

I was successful in converting a sales enquiry today from a V Australia / Delta Airlines ticket to a purchase of a Qantas Airways ticket in economy class from Sydney to Los Angeles to New York…

Based on Qantas Airways’ inflight entertainment service, their A380 product from Sydney to LA and excellent departure times suitable to the passenger I was able to convert their enquiry into a booking at a $100 premium over their initial V Australia / Delta Airlines enquiry…I also explained, whilst optional, it is advisable to pre request particular seats in advance at $20 per sector once the ticket was paid in full today.

So with three sectors involved and an additional $60 payment for pre seating the premium above Virgin / Delta came to $160 and was readily agreed to by my client based on my advice.

Given QF 108 from New York to Sydney via Los Angeles is operated by two different aircraft models on the one QF108 flight number from JFK to SYD.. an A330 JFK to LAX and B747 LAX SYD… pre seating at $20 for this sector is not possible through my GDS system (Galileo) or at www.qantas.com.au.It is only possible by calling Qantas Airways telephone reservations and having them pre seat the flight in their native Qantas Airways reservation system and having them process the payment manually.

I waited for approximately 10 – 15 minutes for Qantas Telephone Reservations to answer the call after adding the passengers Bronze Qantas Frequent Flyer Membership Number into the telephone system.

A reservation agent in the Hobart call centre (I requested her name and have it) answered the call and I explained my dilemma.

Her initial reaction was… You are a travel agent and you must do seat reservations yourself in your system…. This is despite my explanation of the QF108 problem…

Now this is the mentally I speak of….. The Qantas “How may I help you” mentality is really “Let me see how I cannot help you in this instance”…

So my Hobart reservation agent’s initial excuse was… you are a travel agent I am unable to help you… you need to call the travel agent’s help number between Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm…

I explained I have called reservations many times previously to add seat reservations for JFK to SYD and have never experienced difficulty having a Qantas Reservations agent take additional payment (in this instance $60). I must admit I have had to prod a little once or twice to get past the “your a travel agent” excuse…

Also.. why would I waste my time calling if I was able to complete the request myself?…

However, my Hobart Reservation agent insisted she was unable to assist in this instance… we don’t do seating for travel agents….. and anyhow we need to speak with the passenger directly if you intend to use their credit card…

No problems… the passenger is sitting in front of me listening to this conversation unfold…

I requested to speak with a supervisor… and was placed on hold…

“My supervisor confirmed we are unable to help travel agents… and do the seating for any of the sectors of the reservation”

I recommended I place the passenger on the phone directly with the Hobart reservation agent and have them work together to solve the clients problem – namely pay Qantas an additional $60 for pre seating… It’s not as if we haven’t already tried to do the seating ourselves through www.qantas.com.

I was placed on hold for an additional few minutes… and then advised – as I had disclosed I was a travel agent – Hobert reservations would be unable to assist myself or our joint passenger as per policy but the passenger would be welcome to call back for assistance…

So at this stage.. we are at 30 minutes of waiting and arguing about her inability to assist me to pay the additional $60…. all in front of the passenger who I had just convinced to pay a $160 premium for Qantas’ great Australian service….

At this point I was advised “as there was nothing further Hobart Reservations could do for us the conversation would be terminated….” Beep Beep Beep

Now sadly… this is not an isolated incident of one grumpy hard working reservation agent… This reflects the mentality of the Qantas Airways organisation… I see it time and time again…

What rule, procedure, policy, reason am I able to give – in order not to help you with your request today….. It’s all about what can’t be done rather than what can be done….

I understand there are rules and procedures… but today’s experience was beyond ridiculous.

Make of this story what you will… I was just so totally frustrated at this lack of service and vision behind this poor customer service experience by Qantas Airways today…. not only to me as a travel agent and supporter of Qantas Airways but also to our joint client who just purchased a non refundable Qantas Airways ticket based on my recommendation…

I was able to pre seat the passenger from Sydney to LAX to JFK at $40… no pre seating from New York to Sydney via LAX on QF 108 was made… I did try….

(Note: This is not about Qantas being necessarily worse than anyone else, given the recent totally amateur hour shambles on the relaunched Singapore Airlines booking site, or waiting 45 minutes for a Virgin Australia help line person to admit to being clueless. Really lousy customer service afflicts most companies, with gold medal winning performances from Optus and Blackberry affecting this very unhappy customer of both. What this post is about is just another insight into Qantas losing sight of keeping travel agents and their clients loyal to the brand.)