Hello bikers & travellers! If you’ve been thinking of flying with Qantas thanks to their new attractive 30kg baggage allowance for economy passengers, you need to know what we just went through, returning back to Singapore from Queenstown, and why I will not fly with Qantas again. I first wrote this for the travel blog Unpackthere.com, but I thought I’ll share it here since many bikers use this airline to fly with their bikes.
We bought our tickets for an April 2013 trip in December 2012, and we were to fly from Singapore to Queenstown and back again. Because Qantas doesn’t have any direct flights to Queenstown, we had to transit in Sydney on the way there, and on the way back, it would be Queenstown – Auckland – Melbourne – Singapore. Bit of a chore there with the multiple transits, but at that time we had faith that Qantas would deal with it well.
The hoo-ha started in February this year. Qantas decided to reschedule the timing of the Melbourne – Singapore flight, so we had to either stay a night in Auckland or in Melbourne to catch our plane. They would pay for the hotel and food. Fair enough, we thought, although those working had to take an extra day’s leave, or we had to cut short our holiday by a day.
On the morning that we were leaving Auckland – ours was the first flight out at 0650hrs, we found out that the flight was delayed after we had checked in at 0530hrs. Till when? Initially they said, till 0750hr, but it just kept getting pushed later and later. We had a connecting flight to catch, we told them, but they said that Qantas will deal with it.
By 1030hrs we were still in the airport and asking for more meal vouchers (hey, feeding hungry mountain bikers is important!). I wasn’t peeved off until I felt that they did not provide us passengers with enough information. I overheard the rep from the Air New Zealand counter (the customer service for Qantas was under their counter in the Queenstown airport) telling a guy further up ahead in the queue that the planes had been struck by lightning, but when I asked that same rep if he could provide us with any info why the flight was delayed, he simply said he didn’t know. *cough – Liar!* Hey! Keeping customers informed is important if you want them to remain patient for the delayed flight. Why don’t they understand that?
They also started calling passengers to gate via the departure info on the TV Screens, but once we got to the gates it was still locked and unmanned.
Anyway, after all that waiting around, they announced at 1100hrs that the plane was finally ready to take off at 1200hrs. Now, getting through the gates, another issue popped up. When they scanned my boarding pass, an error showed up and the lady told me to “take a seat here behind the counter” as there was some problem with my additional baggage that we had checked in. So we waited. and waited. And I asked her again, what was the problem. She repeated, to sit down and wait. Finally there was no one else at the gate except me and the staff. Then she realised that I was STILL there, and turned to her colleague and said “have you cleared her additional baggage?” *FACE PALM!**
So they started jabbing on their computers and she told me I hadn’t paid for my baggage (we had). When we said we had she insisted that we hadn’t until we said we have the receipt for it, and before we could pull it out, she waved us off. Seriously? Customer service has seen better days but it’s not as bad as this next one.
When we got to Melbourne, there was no one to try to shuffle us or provide us info on our next flight to Singapore. One lady was just standing around with a bunch of other passengers so we had to ask for more information. They told us to go to Gate 8 to get a meal voucher, and when we got there, boy, I now know Qantas’ style of hospitality. Curt and can’t-be-bothered. They told us our next boarding pass won’t be ready but we were being shuffled onto an Emirates flight (they codeshare with Qantas), and to get our pass an hour before departure at the Emirates Lounge. They tossed us a meal voucher each, and when we wanted to get some more answers to our next flight, they pretty much ignored us even as we stood at the counter. Leaving puzzled passengers around seemed to be the mode of the day.
Now, all would be dandy if the rest of the day went smoothly, but when we went to Emirates to pick up our passes, they told us we had to go back to Qantas to get an itinerary to show them. So fine, we went to the Qantas lounge for help, and thank goodness there was at least an angel that day. Linh from the Qantas First Lounge was polite and helpful, printing out the necessary paperwork for us and even getting the delay report sorted out via fax from Sydney.
Still, when we went back to Emirates, they couldn’t give us our boarding passes but told us to go to the boarding gate. Doh! By that time we had been ping-ponged across so many airports and gates, it wasn’t funny at all. We FINALLY got our boarding passes at the gate and hauled our asses onto the plane, getting back to Singapore 24 hours after we had first got to an airport.
Overall, we were very unhappy with their poor scheduling of flights, lack of customer service in terms of providing adequate information to passengers and to top it off, the curt and cold staff.
Qantas, this is our final Goodbye. Rest assured I will not be voluntarily buying tickets for your flights for..ever.