On good experience – not

I am currently sitting at a computer in the QANTAS Club lounge at Melbourne airport. My flight is scheduled to board at 7.45pm but the flight is delayed and it’s unlikely we will be leaving before 9pm. Other flights are delayed as well – an aircraft fault here, a cleaning issue there.

Mind you, the 5.30pm flight to Sydney has just been cancelled altogether after almost two hours of telling passengers that QANTAS was fixing a toilet and was sorry for the delay. Quite!

And last evening was the same. I left work at 6pm for an 8.30pm flight from Sydney to Melbourne. The flight takes one hour and five minutes. My flight was delayed and took off at 10.30pm. To compound matters, there was a delay in getting the plane loaded and we sat for twenty minutes on the tarmac. When we finally arrived in Melbourne there was a delay in getting the baggage out to the luggage carousels. By the time I got to where I was staying it was 1am – seven hours after I had left for the 30 minute drive to the airport.

A few weeks ago my flight from Albury to Sydney was delayed. This is my common QANTAS experience and, from what I hear in the QANTAS lounge, is a common experience for many people.

A couple of decades ago Australia had a domestic airline called TAA – Trans Australia Airlines. The popular moniker was “try another airline”. A similar moniker needs to be found for QANTAS.

What does QANTAS do to ameliorate the situation for long-time sufferers of QANTAS’s appalling delays? Nothing. That’s right, bloody nothing! Except for the “sorry for the inconvenience” mantra that even the announcer clearly has trouble delivering with any sense of sincerity, we mug passengers just have to cop it sweet and waste our lives waiting for QANTAS to deliver a proper on-time air service.

Sure, I am in the QANTAS Club (paid for my moi as a fee) so I get to scoff down a few beers and gobble a few biscuits. Pity those sitting around the terminal waiting….and waiting…and waiting.

Let me be clear – I am not having a good experience with QANTAS. I will tell everyone I meet about my experience with QANTAS, and so will hundreds of other passengers whose lives are wasted by the QANTAS “sorry for the inconvenience” service. I can hear four businessmen behind me now describing various methods of torture they’d like to see happen to QANTAS management – and I can see their point.

And no, we don’t want QANTAS to make things worse with shoddy maintenance and unsafe aircraft, although there have been quite a few stories about QANTAS planes and safety issues of late. Ahem.

Imagine if QANTAS was CityRail in Sydney – they’d be copping flak every day from passengers and the tabloids about woeful on-time running and shoddy service! QANTAS, it seems, is treated as though it is special – like an endangered species – and perhaps the route to extinction is the way QANTAS will go, along with other life forms unable to adapt to the demands of a critically competitive environment.

QANTAS basically doesn’t care. They have a duopoly in domestic air transport and they have a pretty cosy deal internationally, especially on the Pacific run where competition is limited. QANTAS can keep people waiting without penalty and that’s where the system really breaks down. QANTAS gives us time-poor passengers, the people who pay the fares and fill the seats, delayed services without any compensation whatsoever.

If QANTAS can’t stop the bad experiences then they need to show they actually care about wasting our time by providing some compensation. Here are some suggestions:

1. late running flights of up to30 minutes earn passengers a free QANTAS Club membership or 1000 frequent flyer points.

2. late running flights of up to three hours earn passengers a choice of QANTAS Club membership, PLUS QANTAS Frequent Flyer membership, 1500 frequent flyer points, or a free subscription to Conde Nast Traveller (we can at least dream while we wait for that QANTAS flight to take off).

3. late running of more than three hours give passengers a 25% discount on another return flight of equal geography (e.g  Melbourne-Sydney, Sydney-London), but with another airline!

QANTAS – the time is ticking and I am not getting any younger!


7 responses to “On good experience – not

  1. You should have come and had a chat – I was there all evening waiting for a flight to Hobart

  2. Dave,

    I would have enjoyed that if I had seen you there among the hundreds!

    Actually, it would have been timely since I’d met with a couple of chaps from AusAid (the Australian government’s international aid agency) and they mentioned some issues around evaluation and monitoring. I have spoken with Chris and Viv briefly about developing a narrative capture and sensemaking exercise with AusAid or with ACFID (the umbrella group for Australian development NGO’s).

    It seems to me that narrative capture and sensemaking from the recipients point of view (for instance) would be a fantastic way of evaluation and in identifying emerging options.

    I wonder if you’ve done similar work in the UK or with USAID in the States?

    Next time I am stuck in a QANTAS lounge, I’ll do a full exploration!


  3. Dave,

    Just to add, you have given me another reason to get onto Twitter!


  4. My daughter is waiting at Sydney airport for a Flight to Los angeles. Flight is delayed for 9 hours ! They gave her 20$ to eat in the airport. Wow ! How generous can Qantas get !

    On her way over to Sydney, the audio systems broke down 10 minutes after takeoff !

    Good service Mates !

  5. Sorry to hear you had such a bad experience. But you are definitely not the only one upset at Qantas. Qantas has been wasting peoples lives for quite some time now and don’t seem to be getting their act together anytime soon. See the news articles below.



  6. Brad, as someone in the travel industry I feel your pain, yet why do we all keep going back to Qantas? If at least 10 or 15% of us would avoid them at all costs then surely we would make them pay.

    Latest figures showed them having 78% capacity in August which is still quite strong.

  7. Good question! I think it’s a legacy of previous better times. There is that air of safety and Australian nationalism that has helped develop customer loyalty over a long period of time. However, I think this loyalty is gradually being eroded as we hear more about safety and maintenance issues, and poor on-time services. And nationalism will only go so far when it comes to being continually disappointed with flight arrival and departure times.

    QANTAS needs to lifts its game and treat customers with more respect – our time is precious too. The habit of flying QANTAS will definitely lose appeal if QANTAS continues to waste people’s time at airports. QANTAS is still fortunate that at the moment some people still fly with them for the frequent flyer points, addicted like mosquitos are to blood!

    Hint to QANTAS: don’t destroy the frequent flyer program as it now stands because I know that there are plenty of customers wedded to their points who will stay with QANTAS despite the lousy on-time running…up to a point.

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