MVP Summit = Australian MVPs pick on Qantas week
A fellow MVP, also from Perth, writes out his impressions of Qantas from his travels these past few days:
I'll probably be seeing Nick tomorrow, and will share notes with him, but his post inspired me to chat about my experiences over the past few days with Qantas. I ripped into them after my last trip (triggering an apologetic phone call from Qantas). My latest trip to Seattle has also had its unfair share of issues.
First problem - booking the flights via www.qantas.com.au (which I prefer to do because it hooks straight in with my Qantas Club membership) proved to be impossible. The online tool insisted on reporting that there were no return flights available, but at exactly the same time flights were available on Webjet and FlightCentre. So, I phoned Qantas. The end result was that the other sites were correct, there were return flights available, and the consultant promised to report the Web site's problems to the technicians because "something is obviously wrong there". The telephone booking fee was waived *and* I got my flights for the discount price that was being offered on FlightCentre and Webjet.
Second problem - a few hours before I depart, I receive a phone call to advise me that my first flight had been cancelled because of mechanical problems. But never fear say they, we have organised new flights for you. Instead of flying Perth --> Sydney --> LA --> Seattle I am flying Perth --> Canberra --> Sydney --> LA --> Seattle. Less time on the ground, more getting on and off planes. Lesson learned: Don't plan to work in Sydney in the QC during that 4+ hours between flights because, if you have my luck, you'll end up with barely two hours.
Third problem - check in at Perth took far too long - why? Because the Qantas Bookings Department, to quote the Qantas staffer that I overheard complaining, had "completely stuffed up flight 720". My flight changes, that Qantas had organised because of the flight cancellation, were "requested" status, not "confirmed" status. Oh yay.. here's me with an *international* connection, Qantas organises replacement flights (which I appreciated) but they don't take the final step of ensuring that the new flights *they* had chosen for me were confirmed - nor did they warn me that the seats were "requested" only - I was led to believe that the seats were confirmed. For a while there I was wondering if I was going to miss out on this trip to Seattle.
Fourth problem - arriving in LA. I have one suggestion for Qantas. Two hours between a plane from an international destination hitting the tarmac in LA and the connecting flight taking off is not sufficent time!! Ok? Granted, I should have looked closer at the flights that the Qantas Club Consultant chose for me, but hey - they're meant to be the most experienced of all Qantas staff - they should know what sort of time is needed, yes? Now seriously... 2 hours is not enough time for the plane to meander to the gate, for me to get off the plane, walk all the way to immigration, get through that, wait for my bags, take them to drop off, walk *all* the way around to the Alaska terminal and get through *another* security check. The only reason I made my flight was 1) I expressed my concerns to cabin staff and was moved to the front of the plane so that I could be one of the first off, and therefore first in the queue at immigration, and 2) because my bag, unbelievably, was one of the first to appear on the conveyor belt. Even with such assistance and luck, I made it to my gate barely 20 minutes before take-off. Pity any non-Qantas Club pleebs who are inexperienced and don't get that pink priority tag on their luggage. We all know how long it can take to get through immigration if you are at the end of a long queue, and if your luggage is slow to appear on the conveyor belt.
Fifth problem: After all that, my plane boarded late, and we then sat on the tarmac for over 30 minutes anyway.
Maintenance: I'll be honest - the plane I was on from Perth to Canberra, and then from Canberra to Sydney, was dodgy. There are plastic "filler" inserts (for want of a better description) between overhead storage compartment segments on the plane, and several of these had fallen away and were hanging down. I ask you, if the airline doesn't get the shallow, surface presentation of the inside of a plane right - stuff that would be fixed by simply pushing the inserts back into position, how much confidence do we have in the complicated maintenance?
Good stuff: Qantas/Alaska did not lose my bags for four days this time :o)