Some days the stars just don’t align for you and what could potentially be a great day turns into a cluster fuck of a day. We all have those days, moments and experiences. Well that’s what recently happened with me on a voyage from Melbourne to Manila when travelling with Qantas. If you follow along on the tweets (now on Snapchat @honeybirdtravel) you would have been kept up to date as the Qantas social media team tried to tell me how everything that happened to me was a ‘safety issue‘ and ‘we’re sorry that you had a less than positive experience‘ with us.
In the hope that no woman (or let’s be honest here – person) ever has to go through what I did the following story is a true tale. Despite what you may be thinking after you read the below email to Qantas Customer Service team and a few select executives this actually happened to me.
I’ve removed the names of people involved and given them rather accurate descriptive names.
Note– Qantas have recently reached out to respond to me and in an attempt to resolve this issue and respond accordingly. Which in itself has been a fascinating experience. The general feel of these conversations has firstly been;
- We’re not going to treat you like an idiot and apologise. What happened was unacceptable on every level.
- We hope that next time you fly with us it is a better experience.
As of 29 June there are on going discussions on how this can be turned from a shit storm of an experience to a positive customer service relations issue. Think community crisis management.
To date a lump sum of 20 000 frequent flyer points have been added to my account. Which may initially seem generous if you don’t consider the fact that to redeem these points (ie on a new flight) I’ll have to pay Qantas for the service.So I’ll be double paying for the uniquely terrible experience.
If anything further comes of this I’ll update and let you all know.
Please allow me a short moment of your time (and your assistant’s who is most likely already read this before showing you) to relay to you my story- A Travellers tale and why I will never willingly fly Qantas again. This is a true story and relates to what can only now be described as a comedy of errors on my recent flights with Qantas – booking reference XXX, FF number 1 00 00 00
As part of the TBEX and the Department of Tourism Promotion Philippines current campaign to increase the awareness of the outer regions of the Philippines and the upcoming TBEX event in October I was invited to join in a familirisation trip to the Philippines. As a member of one of three FAM teams, and the only Australian representative, I was given my choice of any airline to take me from dreary Melbourne to the warmth embrace of the Philippines. Naturally I chose Qantas. A choice that I now sincerely regret.
On Sunday 05 June I happily packed my bags and made my way to Melbourne airport. With little to no stress I checked into my flights from 09:00 Mel-Syd and following 12:10pm flight from Sydney – Manila. As a regular international traveller there was little to nothing out of the ordinary happening in Melbourne airport. After clearing security, grabbing a much needed coffee and making my way to the designated gate I see the dreaded CANCELLED red wording on the gate screen. As the connection time between flights, which were those suggested by the Qantas website, was rather tight I nervously approached the last remaining friendly Qantas staff member I would speak to in the next 24 hours. Though at this point in time I was unaware that my day was about to go from nice to utter cluster fuck.
Along with my fellow Manila delayees I happily boarded the 10am flight and made our way to Sydney. This flight was rather uneventful with mild delays on route being caused by the terrible weather in Sydney. As we disembarked the plane and purposefully walked across to the International Transfer desk things started to get really interesting. All passengers on the 12:10pm Manila flight have been removed from the flight! The staff advising us one by one that we had been booked a hotel room, placed on the next day’s flight and given a measely $30 voucher to cover any meals at the hotel. Please collect your baggage, head down to the shuttle bus and come back tomorrow. Any further complaints, issues or expenses should be taken up with your individual travel insurance company.
With great shame I must confess to dropping the most hurtful and embarrassing line in my career “I am a travel writer, traveling on invitation of the Philippine government. I need to make it to Manila for a 7am domestic flight”
As I stood to the side shocked at being brushed away by a Qantas staff member two lovely gentlemen business class passengers arrived at the counter also requiring assistance to get to Manila. Now at this point the wonderful, amazing and helpful Qantas staff member emerged. As the lovely well dressed gentlemen asked if we, including myself, could be rerouted via Singapore to Manila. With incredible efficiency the staff member was on the phone and able to book these passengers to Singapore on Qantas ongoing to Manila with Philippines Airlines. Whilst politely discussing the numerous options for male business class passengers I was booked onto the same Qantas flight and then an ongoing Jetstar flight to Manila. Beggars can’t be choosers when flying economy. Though this change in flight situation has taken an 11hr trip to a 22hour trip seeing my flight now arrived at 5.55am
Now holding my newly confirmed flights I do as I’m told, going through to collect my very small bag to be checked in and collect the newest bunch of boarding passes. By now I’m sure you are thinking gosh what is this women’s issue? Our surly staff got her seats and helped on what can only be describe as a terribly busy day for all airport staff.
The little piece of paper in my hand had a very important suggestion written across the top – TICKET REVALIDATION/REISSUE IS RECOMMENDED. See attached. Keep this in mind as it’ll come back into play.
Upon arrival at the check in desk the first query I get is -Who told you to come here? Things slightly improved as I was given my boarding pass from Syd-Singapore. In the hope of making my life easier at the end of my journey I requested that my bag be allowed as carry on. Now again as a regular international and domestic traveller I’m fairly well aware of the safety requirements and size restrictions for carry on baggage. Which is why I was traveling with a small suitcase. The check in staff member advised me that unfortunately I could not take my baggage as carry on as it had been checked through from Melbourne to Manila and that the system would not allow the bag to be removed. The bag which I currently held in front me. Once again I allowed myself to trust that Qantas would take care of me and my valuables, and waved off my bag with reassurances that we would once again be together in Manila.
On the bus and across to the international terminal I go. All the while getting receiving text messages from Qantas that my original flight QF19 has been rescheduled and delayed. See attached. Note the flight eventually left at 13:39. After clearing customs and taking a leisurely stroll to the departing gate of QF19 I was even able to wave hello as the plane was still at the gate.
An uneventful time was had during my transit and whilst waiting for QF05 to take me away to Singapore. Again the terribly disappointing service from Qantas escalated during this flight. Never before have I sat on a flight and felt like an inferior human being. Like many passengers I do enjoy the on board entertainment system during flights. As I was enjoying the unique selection on offer, with my head phones in Qantas Air Host Member Of the Year walked along the cabin offering passengers a bottle of water. As she passed me by twice with no water offered, I politely asked for a bottle. As she stood over me with a look of disgust on her face, with a tray full of water bottles in her arms, she informed me that she had given my water to my husband seated next to me. I was unaware that Qantas staff were still in the mindset that a young woman is not allowed to travel or indeed converse with the outside world without her husband. Now whilst I understand that such slip ups happen, a simple oh I’m sorry here’s your water would have had my giggling about this with my friends. However Qantas Air Host Member Of the Year decided to increase the level of awkwardness and certainly my discomfort by instancing that the young man, a total and complete stranger to me, go through his bag and return to me the bottle of water. All the while holding a tray full of water bottles.
I won’t bore you with the rest of the details on this miserable flight. The horrid inedible food (image attached), staff ramming into me during flight and the total and complete lack of care. It was with great relief when I disembarked in Singapore and made my way to the Jetstar transfer desk.
Well now this vital step comes into play. It’s approaching midnight and I’m eager to check in and go grab a snooze on the airport floor. Upon arrival at the transfer desk I rely the story of my woes and the hope to make this next step an easy one. I’m in desperate need of edible food. Only to be advised that Qantas has not paid for my Jetsar flight and that there is $660AU owing on my booking which needs to be resolved before I can be checked in on this flight. Thankfully for me the Jetstar staff went above and beyond in chasing down a Qantas manager who at midnight would reissue my ticket and allow me to be checked in. A stressful situation which took over 45mins to resolve. I’m sure you can understand how much love and care I’m feeling from Qantas right now.
Jetstar did a magnificent job of getting me to Manila on time where a staff member from the Department of Tourism was waiting for me. As I grab my bag, head through customs and taken to the domestic terminal I finally get a moment to freshen up and change my clothing. Only to discover that my bag at some point during this epic journey has been soaked. All of my worldly possessions were wet. With water dripping from my toiletry bag to wringing out my shorts. With a full day starting out with a domestic flight and followed by adventure activities my options were limited – dirty plane clothes or wet underwear. As I dislike wearing wet underwear I opted for dirty plane clothes.
During this saga the Qantas social media team did a wonderful job of ensuring me that I was nothing more than a number and only worthy of canned responses. The ever so helpful it’s a safety issue response was rolled out. Though my favourite response was being told that “it’s always our aim to follow a fair and consistent approach, and the baggage allowance and dimensions must be followed to check baggage in.” Which amuses me as this bag is a 55cm spinner case which I have frequently used as carry on baggage when flying with Qantas, Virgin and Jetstar.
I can not honestly express my disappointment during this saga. As I had personally requested to fly Qantas and not the direct flight with PAL, assuring the organisers that Qantas would be the airline of choice, offering exceptional service and delivery. Instead I found my travel time doubled, the staff sulky and unwilling to provide assistance, missed the briefing dinner and meet & greet breakfast. As my journey through the Philippines progressed the story of this saga was passed among the staff who truly felt sorry for me and went above and beyond to ensure that the rest of my trip was an exceptional experience.
What this story isn’t about
This story isn’t about money grubbing and shaming Qantas into giving me free stuff. Though I might have to reconsider that if they give me a life time brand ambassadorship, unlimited first class tickets and a pinata. That aside this is about sharing the story of what happened and ensuring that this doesn’t happen to anyone else. The staff that I came across failed in their duty to me as a passenger. Which you can read more about in the Qantas Customer Charter
This is me giving honest and critical feed back to a large corporation who differentiate themselves in a flooded market by giving the best custom service and experience. With 93% of their 30,000 staff based in Australia it’s easy to see how some things may pass them by.
Qantas is widely regarded as the world’s leading long distance airline and one of the strongest brands in Australia.
We have built a reputation for excellence in safety, operational reliability, engineering and maintenance, and customer service.
-About Our Company- Qantas.com.au
If you find yourself in a similar situation with any airline in an Australian situation you can contact the ACA for assistance.
The Airline Customer Advocate
The objective of the ACA Scheme is to facilitate, in accordance with the Complaints Process, the efficient resolution of complaints about Airline Services that have not been resolved by direct communication between the Eligible Customer and the Airline under the procedure provided in the Airlines Customer Charter.
You can contact the ACA at www.airlinecustomeradvocate.com.au or write to them at:
Airline Customer Advocate
Level 18, 363 George Street,
Sydney NSW 2000
Founder, Principal Blogger & Coffee Drinker
Coffee Lover | Travel Blogger | Horse Rider | Adventure Racer | Donut Dame. Generally nice lady-enjoys wine, indie movies & random dance parties in my tent.
It’s easy to get lost in all the deliciousness on offer across Austria. Here a few of the sweet treats not to be missed. You can thank me later!
Only an hour away from Melbourne, this region has a lot of hidden foodie delights. Here’s an insiders guide to 3 tops spots you need to visit.
Breaking free from creative burnout. Because ya know 2020 has been such a wonderful year for an Australian based blogger.