Armstrong gets Jetstarred

September 4th, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

writes:

It was meant to be a family reunion commemorating the death of a beloved relative. Air tickets were booked and the two sisters, both working their guts out in part-time jobs to put themselves through university, arrived at Wellington Airport on Sunday morning in plenty of time for their flight to Auckland.

But then they were Jetstarred. All flights to Auckland that day had been cancelled. Fog? A crack in the tail of the plane? A terrorist alert at Auckland airport? After much obfuscation the reason was given – “engineering problems”. Sometimes an indicator light fails and passengers patiently wait a few minutes before take- off for the fault to be fixed. But every flight that day cancelled due to a single engineering problem? What happened – did a wing fall off? …

Realising the reunion could be missed, tears flowed, friends were called, credit card numbers were yelled over the phone and eventually the girls got to Auckland. Everyone said: “Thank God for even if it does cost an arm and a leg to fly at short notice”.

If this was a one-off incident I would simply dismiss it as one of the perils of air travel, but the same family got Jetstarred the same way three months earlier. Around the same time my niece tried to return from Australia for a long weekend. By the time her delayed Jetstar flight actually left Melbourne it was so late she would have had to turn around again on arrival in Auckland so she spent what little was left of her weekend telling her Facebook friends she would never fly Jetstar again.

My policy is to never fly Jetstar (inside NZ, they seem fine in Australia) unless there is no other flight available. I also have a standing policy that if an organisation wants me to travel to speak at their conference, that they must not book me on Jetstar.

But there is one reason I am grateful to Jetstar. Every time a Tory argues that the private sector does things more efficiently than the public, I say “What about Jetstar and Air New Zealand?” and the conversation turns to the weather.

Air NZ is of course a great example of the Mixed Ownership Model :-)

I would point out that Air NZ have consistently had good service – both as 100% privately owned, and as a MOM.

Have you ever tried flying to Gisborne at short notice? It’ll cost you slightly more than going to Samoa and slightly less than Perth. Because Air New Zealand has a monopoly on most regional routes, they charge like wounded bulls. Is this an example of a state enterprise using its monopoly to rip off people in the regions? Possibly, but it could also be what happens when private investors buy part of a state asset. The state may want to provide an affordable service but private investors will be looking to maximise profit – even if it means gouging Gizzy.

I think it is simply just because no one else wants to fly to Gisborne. The problem is not what percentage of an airline is owned by the state (SOEs act just as commercially as the private sector), but the lack of competition. And I say you are more likely to get fairer competition when the Government that sets the competition rules does not own one of the companies involved.

What would be wonderful is a state airline with the level of service that Air New Zealand provides, but that is also affordable to those on low incomes and in the regions. You may be right to think that I’m dreaming, and that it will only happen when pigs can fly Jetstar.

Having checked the Air NZ website, there are some pretty decent fares from Wellington to Gisborne. You can fly up there for $89 and back for $109 if you book well enough in advance.

When I fly to Auckland, I often find the four taxi trips costs me more than the return airfare!

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40 Responses to “Armstrong gets Jetstarred”

  1. Elaycee (4,393 comments) says:

    If this was a one-off incident I would simply dismiss it as one of the perils of air travel, but the same family got Jetstarred the same way three months earlier.

    More candidates for the moron club – not content with being buggered around on just one occasion, they allow it to happen a second time. And yet they somehow expected a different result?

    You pay your money and you take your chances. And if you opt to use Jetstar, then you roll the dice accordingly.

    Zero sympathy from this quarter.

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  2. PaulL (5,987 comments) says:

    Yes, what would be great is an airline with brilliant service and that was really cheap (presumably, below cost). And the suggestion of low incomes means perhaps charges are based on income, not on cost+profit. Unless the staff would like to take a pay cut, I’m presuming a commercial provider won’t offer that. So really, we’re talking about whether the government would like to run an airline below cost. In other words, some NZers should pay more tax so that other NZers can pay less for air travel.

    Are basic logic skills not a necessary prerequisite for being a journalist? (Yes, a rhetorical question)

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  3. Mark (1,488 comments) says:

    When I fly to Auckland, I often find the four taxi trips costs me more than the return airfare!

    DPF it is cheaper and more convenient to rent a car for the day or even 2 :)

    [DPF: Yeah I do that sometimes, if I have the time and going to areas with parking]

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  4. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    I have only been delayed once on Jetstar. I fly about once or twice a month (though mostly regional routes).

    You simply cannot compare Jetstar to Air NZ. If you want to pay through the nose, then fly Air NZ, it’s your choice. It has nothing to do with being publicly owned. Also, when I travel the regional services Air NZ is notoriously late/delayed. Especially AKL to Taupo and Rotorua.

    If you want to pay $49 for a ticket to a main centre, then I think you waive your right to write a bitchy opinion piece. If Jetstar is soooo horrible, then why did you choose to fly them to such a special occasion?

    Air NZ isn’t crash hot on it service of the main AKL-WGL-CHC-DUD routes either. They’re just better than Jetstar at paying Senate Communications and giving reporters free flights to overseas conferences so as to stay out of the media.

    Has Dave Armstrong ever got some complimentry (tax-payers subsidised) gift from Air NZ…?
    Does DPF…?

    (*I do not work for Jetstar or have anything to do with them. I just find with this issue that the cheapo whingers annoy the hell out of me.)

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  5. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    “Having checked the Air NZ website, there are some pretty decent fares from Wellington to Gisborne. You can fly up there for $89 and back for $109 if you book well enough in advance.”

    Jetstar doesn’t fly to Gisborne.

    Is this a free advert for Air NZ?

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  6. RRM (9,933 comments) says:

    Ah yes, “engineering problems”, that old chestnut.

    When I used to fly between Rotorua and Christchurch a few times a year (while I was a Student at Canterbury Uni) it was quite noticeable that the southbound flight was never cancelled when the compact Rotorua terminal was full of waiting passengers.

    But several times when there were only a handful of us waiting, that’s when the plane coming from Chc or Queenstown would suffer the dreaded ‘Engineering Problems’ and we’d all have to wait another 45 minutes and get put on the competition’s plane instead…

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  7. nickb (3,687 comments) says:

    I had a return flight from Auckland to Wellington on the weekend, and experienced exactly the same issues. An hour delay each way was collectively greater than the flight time, surly employees and sick people both on our flight to Wellington (which delayed further the time it took for us to get off) and a sick person being carried off the flight before ours on a stretcher, which further delayed our boarding time in Wellington.

    Fucking atrocious, my first and last time flying jetstar

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  8. tamati (75 comments) says:

    When an elderly relative of mine past away suddenly last year, the relatives son and grandson had to make an very short notice trip from the United States to New Zealand. Obviously booking a long distance flight at short notice was very expensive, however Air New Zealand were extremely accommodating and were able to make arrangements.

    After the funeral and other duties, Air New Zealand, contacted my relatives and offered to refund a portion of their flights, as they are not in the business of profiteering from personal tragedies. My relatives provided proof of death and duly refunded a portion of their flight costs. Bravo Air New Zealand!

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  9. jedmo (33 comments) says:

    Here in Nelson Air NZ (aka Air Nelson) charges high, unless you book far ahead. The alternative is Sounds Air a real no frills, honest wysiwyg outfit. Just the one low fare to Wgtn ($107). Basic but reliable Cessna Caravan workhorse plane. Cabin crew? Sweets? Haha joke. Im just thankful I dont have to pay twice as much or more with Air NZ, and enjoy the ride every time.

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  10. Hamnida (905 comments) says:

    Four taxi trips!!!!!!

    The Wellington airport bus is $8.50 including free wifi.

    The Auckland bus is $16 (bit of a rip off).

    I am one of those people who never learn. No sooner do I swear never to fly Jet Star again, then I hop on the internet and get fooled by paying $69 instead $119.

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  11. Hamnida (905 comments) says:

    tamati – I have seen that happen too. If Air NZ know it’s a funeral or medical emergency, they only charge you a middle of the rage fare at most. I think about $150 from Auckland to Wellington.

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  12. labrator (1,850 comments) says:

    What would be wonderful is a state airline…

    *whoop whoop, pull up*

    … but that is also affordable to those on low incomes and in the regions…

    Translation: Wouldn’t it be great if someone else paid for me to fly wherever I wanted despite prevailing economics.

    What an awfully written article. Unable to make a coherent point but quite good at cheap digs. Booked Jetstar because it was cheaper (competition), Jetstar had an issue (competition), AirNZ is expensive (competition), I want cheaper fares with full service (government intervention).

    I’ve had some great flights with Jetstar, I’ve had some shockers with AirNZ. I tend to fly AirNZ most of the time however as I’m happy to pay more for their reliability (better avionics into Queenstown for example).

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  13. Mark (496 comments) says:

    While I use Air New Zealand to fly and you pay for the privilege I was catching a flight from Wellington to Dunedin the plane we were catching had “engineering problems”.

    However as the first flight to Dunedin that today, we just got off the plane and got another the other plane that was due to alo go to Dunedin about 45 minutes later. In essense stealing that plane as the other had to be fixed first.

    I dont know what happened to the passangers on the later flight, but Air New Zealand has a larger fleet which allows them to swap planes around if required.

    From what I understand of Jetstar is they dont have the spare capcity as they are a cut price airline competing against Air New Zealand which can charge higher prices on regional routes when can then be used to keep prices down on the routes Jetstar competes on.

    If you want cheap airline flights you will have to accept that the above can occur with budget airlines as the operate with little in the way of a backstop, otherwise use the more expensive airlines, or alternative forms of transport.

    If Jetstar does continue to fail customers then they will eventually go out of business which is what should, or the shareholders force management to improve their service.

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  14. Elaycee (4,393 comments) says:

    Hamfisted:

    I am one of those people who never learn. No sooner do I swear never to fly Jet Star again, then I hop on the internet and get fooled by paying $69 instead $119.

    Quelle surprise… :D

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  15. iMP (2,387 comments) says:

    DPF, will you be hiring a car when you arrive in AKL for the Conservative Party conference in Sept.? Aren’t you a keynote speaker? You could share the hire car with Whale.

    Me too. I will NEVER fly Jetstar in NZ.

    [DPF: I've spoken to Young Labour, so would speak to Conservatives. I'd give them some advice on how to get 5% also]

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  16. liarbors a joke (1,069 comments) says:

    I fly JStar all the time and have probably only had one delay. Small price to pay for competition. Some people have awfully short memories. Air NZ used to screw the travelling public. I refuse to fly with them.

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  17. Hamnida (905 comments) says:

    Elaycee – I am sure I’m not the only one to have had a bad expeience on a budget airline, and then end up using them again to save $50

    There are worse airlines than Jet Star, like Ryan Air and Air Asia.

    German Wings is really really really bad.

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  18. Hamnida (905 comments) says:

    iMP – I thought Mr Oil lives in Auckland?

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  19. muncha1 (20 comments) says:

    I’m a student on a student budget, hence Jetstar is a healthy risk sometimes. But given most of my travel is event based (sport, camps), I will never touch them on the first leg. But afterwards (having seen a big Highlanders win) I’m in not as worried about a delay or 2 on the return.

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  20. PaulL (5,987 comments) says:

    I’ve flown Jetstar because they’re cheap. I’ve had OK flights, I’ve had bad flights. That’s what you get. I got stuck in Queenstown on a flight to Aus once. Whilst everyone else sat around whinging I went and got a rental car, we drove to Chch and caught a flight from there. Jetstar gave us a refund. We caught Qantas from Chch. Annoying, yes. About what I expect, yes.

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  21. Nigel (516 comments) says:

    I love JetStar, but then I would never fly JetStar if I “had” to be somewhere, but for leisure it’s brilliant, great prices, great staff & they trump any US airline I’ve used for being on time ( though it’s not a particularly high bar that one ).

    Business class AirNZ is still the best of the airlines I’ve been on, though I’ve not tried Emirates.

    P.S. I’d add EasyJet & Jet2 to that list Hamnida, JetStar globally for a low cost airline is pretty damn good I think.

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  22. berend (1,711 comments) says:

    We recently had a couple of regional flights with Air New Zealand both canceled/delayed. Air New Zealand did try very hard to get people to their destination though, i.e. chartering a bus to a different airport, paying for a taxi, that kind of thing, so no complaints here.

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  23. Manolo (13,837 comments) says:

    Armstrong, a bore, yawn. One of the reasons why I ditched my DomPost subscription.

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  24. profile (13 comments) says:

    Both airlines suck. Air NZ don’t even bother to have the same baggage allowance and their star alliance partners so on arrival in NZ you have to repack/purchase smaller bags. They pull out the tired health and safety bullshit. Funny how a Singaporean grandad can safely lift a heavier bag than an Air NZ employee… All the Air NZ staff need to do now is make standing around a health and safety issue and they won’t have to do any work at all.

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  25. MT_Tinman (3,203 comments) says:

    When I fly to Auckland, I often find the four taxi trips costs me more than the return airfare!

    And so you should! Thanks to your mate Joyce the taxi drivers costs per passenger far exceed the space shuttle let alone an ordinary aeroplane.

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  26. PaulL (5,987 comments) says:

    Taxis are more expensive now than they were when regulated? I doubt it.

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  27. Hamnida (905 comments) says:

    Of course taxis are more expensive now. The price of gas when they were deregulated was 80 cents a litre.

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  28. seanmaitland (501 comments) says:

    @nickb – traveling on a cut-price airline to save money and then whinging about it is hilarious – are you meaning to come across looking like a giant, petty, cheapskate?

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  29. seanmaitland (501 comments) says:

    @DPF – something that would’ve been interesting for you to mention was how brilliant Jetstar are compared to other low cost airlines like Ryan Air and Easy Jet. Ryan Air in particular are absolute wankers, and pride themselves on it.

    The redneck NZ fraternity do not know how lucky they are, compared to what you get around Europe on their cheap airlines.

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  30. Hamnida (905 comments) says:

    The stories I could tell about Ryan Air, like how their “Vienna Airport” isn’t even in Austria.

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  31. The Scorned (719 comments) says:

    Sounds like Jetstar are angling to be an SOE…..they act like one already it seems….

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  32. thor42 (971 comments) says:

    What I’m wondering is how long Jetstar can continue to give such CRAP service and still stay afloat?
    Who on earth is bankrolling them? Bill Gates???
    How the **heck** does such a lousy airline make a profit?
    *Do* they make a profit?

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  33. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    @thor42

    Jetstar stays afloat because they stay in the black (perhaps take some time to read the paper). And why are they in the black? Because they offer something of value that people are willing to pay for. Much cheaper tickets than the competitor. And for all of Jetstar’s problems (and I suspect some skulduggery from AirNZ and elements of the PR class) they still offer a very good product that people are happy to pay for.

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  34. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    I would point out that Air NZ have consistently had good service – both as 100% privately owned, and as a MOM.

    Not today, they didn’t!

    I was on an Air New Zealand flight from Maroochydore to Auckland this afternoon. 2 meal choices – lemon chicken, which had run out before the food trolley got to row 16 where I was seated; and a ghastly thing with a tiny piece of cold salmon, some cabbage and a few flakes of carrot, and a dry stuck-together stringy green pasta thing with a dawb of wasabi was all that was available by the time they got to me. Ghastly!

    Just not good enough for a four hour flight, especially given the failure of Maroochydore airport to provide any food of any quality either, and their requirement for passengers to go through security to the gate an hour before the flight left.

    An unfortunate end to what was otherwise a lovely holiday in south-eastern Queensland.

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  35. expat (4,050 comments) says:

    EWSH – I hope you’re not suggesting some people get comped into Koru membership…

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  36. Grizz (605 comments) says:

    The regional routes are a problem due to a lack of competition. I recently flew from Blenheim to Wellington at relatively short notice with an outfit called Air2There because they were about half the price of Air NZ. It was a 12 seater, single engined, Cesna Caravan. Given the weather conditions, it can only be described as the flight from Hell. Coming into Wellington I thought we were about to flip over several times. However, I cannot complain. The flight was on time and I got from A to B just like I paid for. Luckily for them, I kept my breakfast inside me.

    I can see Air New Zealand dominating regional routes for some time to come yet. They have the advantage of linking it into a frequent main trunk services, keeping interconnection times down. They are also capitalised with decent regional aircraft. In particular planes that are more stable in crosswinds during approaches to Wellington airport. What is more likely to work is a collection of small airlines, like sounds air, basing themselves at a main airport and making having a series of flights to nearby regional airports. However they are probably likely to use older less comfortable aircraft that are likely to break down more often.

    Also, some airports do not help themselves either in attracting passenger traffic. Take Hamilton for example. An expensive taxi or shuttle fare from town. Not on a bus route. $20/day to park when there is nothing but farmland surrounding. (Why someone has never started a park and ride I will never know) and WTF is this $5 departure tax. We are told it is to pay for development. Take note, Hamilton and Dunedin were similar airports in terminal design, carparking and distance from town. Both redeveloped at similar times. Dunedin is now far superior and does not charge a departure tax. No wonder Hamiltonians drive to Auckland airport where there are more conveniant and cheaper flights. It is also considerably cheaper to park.

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  37. Grizz (605 comments) says:

    Hamnida, one thing I will never understand about the Wellington Airport bus is the need to drive around the arse end of the airport and fanny about through Kilbirnie. The journey takes 15 to 20 minutes longer than it needs to. It should go direct from the airport into town. Instead it wants to behave like a local bus.

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  38. jcuk (693 comments) says:

    Lets not say ANZ is wonderful … flight 8 to SFO last month … missed connecting flight by two minutes …. had allowed six hours between bookings … spent night in SFO terminal…. replacement ‘8’ so small could not reach my shoes to adjust during flight. Frontier plane had more room .. six inches the brochure said. My ninth and worst crossing of the pacific in cattle class.

    Worst part of the ‘rescue’ by ANZ was not knowing what was going on and not having the option to remain in Auckland, could have found a motel rather than chair in SFO terminal.

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  39. Komata (1,191 comments) says:

    Toad: Re: ‘I was on an Air New Zealand flight from Maroochydore to Auckland this afternoon’

    And your carbon footprint was? Surely you’ve just used-up your allocation for the year, and as for the CO2 that was generated while you were flying. . .

    Given your well-known advocacy of the ‘need to be green’, and antagonism towards those whole persist in using modern technology, perhaps an explanation would be in order?

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  40. Mobile Michael (452 comments) says:

    Air NZ screwed over Ansett – best airline ever. I’ll never forgive them for that.

    Having said that, I’m not stupid enough to fly Jetstar – and my boss learnt that the hard way when his $4000 conference got disrupted by the $400 saving he got flying his 6 Wellington staff on an airline that couldn’t fly.

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