Another Jetstar fail

January 4th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Sophie Speer describes her experience:

In travel, some factors, like the weather, are uncontrollable. But after 12 hours being messed around by on Wednesday, it was the management of controllable factors that put them to shame.

Flying into Wellington when a severe wind warning had been issued must test the mettle of even the most experienced pilot. So when, after extreme turbulence left me sweating and clutching the armrest while staring out at the white caps of the Wellington south coast, I was grateful that our pilot aborted and started ascending.

We returned to Auckland, where hundreds of passengers were left confused, frustrated and increasingly irate with an airline which made us feel like a mere inconvenience.

I was rescheduled on to an already delayed flight due to leave at 9.05pm, leaving me hours to roam the airport. At the time I thought I was one of the lucky ones. Without checked baggage, I got straight to the front of the queue while others had to first collect their bags, then queue up.

As the day wore on and the queue failed to shrink, tempers ran high as people jostled for space and priority. At the gate, the security staff in charge of X-raying our bags copped the most flak, simply because they were the only members of staff around for anyone to talk to. Not once did a member of Jetstar make their presence known to listen, explain or even just apologise.

This is the key difference – customer service. All airlines have delays. But when they happen, you have to have a culture and staff who will communicate with your customers about what is happening.

I live in Wellington, a city with a notorious track record for disrupted flights due to the weather. I accept that. What I could not tolerate was the lack of customer service, the lack of communication and the lack of empathy we received. Jetstar have probably lost the custom of many of those affected by the mess, myself included.

My written policy for speaking engagements is I will not accept bookings on Jetstar. They are too unreliable and seem unable to do basic customer service. To be fair to them, their Australian operations are pretty good – but somehow their initial DNA in NZ got contaminated and they have never recovered from it.

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10 Responses to “Another Jetstar fail”

  1. krazykiwi (9,189 comments) says:

    Sorry, but I have little sympathy for Sophie. She, like most of the rest of NZ is aware of JetStar’s track record… and still choose to book to secure lower airfares.

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  2. BlairM (2,287 comments) says:

    Yeah the time for sympathy for Jetstar customers is over. At the start yes. But now people know exactly what they are getting, and have no right to complain when they inevitably receive it.

    Don’t fly Jetstar. And if you do, don’t whine when they f*ck you over.

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  3. Peter (1,578 comments) says:

    No sympathy for anyone flying Jetstar. I flew a couple of low priced airlines in the UK back in the late 90′s. Never again – no way, no how.

    You get exactly what you pay for with those airlines.

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  4. dime (9,439 comments) says:

    they put my buddy up in a hotel wed night. probably because he didnt abuse any of the staff there…

    ya get what ya pay for. i sometimes fly jetstar out of wellington as i book late and air nz is too expensive (scumbag public sector workers flying out of wellington i guess).

    when i book i know that their will be issues.

    i know i will get there two hours early for check in. they wont be open. when they do open it will take 20 mins for their systems to boot up. i know the check in people will be assholes.

    i know to expect delays.

    i also know that ive saved 2-300 bucks so ill suck it up.

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  5. Rex Widerstrom (5,261 comments) says:

    Jetstar have issues in Australia too. There seems to be just about as many complaints about Australian services as New Zealand ones onthis webiste dedicated to Jetstar complaints.

    Then again, I’ve seen Tiger Airways (which now flies some Australian domestic routes) treat customers very unreasonably on some of these airport “reality” shows (Just channel surfing in the ads, honest).

    And I swore I’d never fly Virgin again after screaming to the airport to catch the redeye clutching the last-minute edit of a program I was pitching in Melbourne the nest day. Though I was on time (just), rather than hold Virgin up by faffing about checking I had everything I went through check in, boarded, and then found I had no cash. I begged… literally, after the first hour or so… for water on the almost 4 hour flight but was told, quite abruptly, that if I didn’t have the cash I could damn well dehydrate.

    So that just leaves Qantas who, like Air NZ, leverage their virtual monopoly as the only provider of basic services and gouge travellers (because courtesy, communication, mediocre food, drink and in-flight entertainment are surely just basic services in 21st century air travel, not some special “treat you like a Caliph” class).

    And as with non-mainline routes in NZ, they go beyond gouging and hollow you out completely if you want to fly on a route on which they’re the only carrier.

    A two hour flight to Karratha in the back of the plane can easily cost upwards of $1,000, presumably because they figure the mining companies are paying every fare. And I notice they’ve now stopped playing movies, instead re-running re-runs supplied by Channel 9, with whom they have a contra arrangement, I assume to save having to pay copyright.

    Oh for the days of Ansett…

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  6. cha (3,779 comments) says:

    I’d have thought the establishment of Jetstar as a union breaker would guarantee KB posters patronage.

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  7. Reid (15,947 comments) says:

    One of the best examples of customer service I have ever experienced in NZ is a shop called Ontrays in Petone which is basically an Alladin’s cave of delicious goodies from exotic meats and cheese to gourmet spreads and antipasto to beer and wine. Every customer who comes in is offered a free coffee, a real one and they never leave anyone waiting at the various counters for more than a few seconds without attending to them even if its just asking, ‘are you being served.’

    They have a sign up that says: “Communication is everything.”

    And this is the secret to great customer service, if you’re in the retail or indeed most service industries. Most people won’t mind waiting or dealing with some foible like a delayed flight or a stalled train provided they know the provider is aware of their needs and has communicated the details of the issue to them.

    One amazing thing is, this principle is not rocket science, it’s simple, basic, no-brainer human nature and if you’re in the retail or service industry doesn’t it behoove you to understand simple basic no-brainer human nature as it operates in your customers? Der.

    Another amazing things is, if you’re Kiwirail with a Wgtn commuter train stuck on the line or Jetstar or anything else, then it DOESN’T COST YOU ANYTHING to have the driver or the pilot pick up the mic at the earliest possible opportunity and COMMUNICATE the nature of the issue and the expected time of resolution.

    This is such simple no brainer stuff that you have to wonder WTF is wrong with the entire management teams of organisations like Jetstar and Kiwirail that despite that fact IT DOESN’T COST ANYTHING the drop-dead foolish idiot mental morons STILL, time after time after time, completely and utterly fail to do anything about it.

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  8. krazykiwi (9,189 comments) says:

    reid – O/T, but Ontrays rocks. Best customer service in NZ. I happly spend more there every visit than I had planned to.

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  9. Left Right and Centre (2,821 comments) says:

    Good comments on this topic….

    Rex mate… I read Virgin… and having read Richard Branson’s book I know how central the idea of value for money and customer experience is to him… so I thought.. what could this possibly be? You didn’t take any money to buy the extras buddy. That’s seriously it. That’s your big complaint. They wouldn’t give you water. Something that was 100% your fault not theirs. Good one.

    And you didn’t ask any of your fellow passengers if they could help you? Did you ask someone else if they had a drink you could share? Or offer to reimburse them at the other end? Lend you a bit of chump change to get a drink?

    Four hours…. you poor darling. Were you allowed to use the toilets or were they extras too? There’s water in the taps, yeah? Ah.. it’s icky ‘aeroplane water’… something wrong with it eh? Four hours mate? However did you survive that and stay conscious? Tell me… did you see mirages of water oases in the arrival area? Did you manage to stagger your way weakly to a source of refreshment on your last legs? I hope you went to A and E and got checked out for dehydration damage.

    You don’t need to glug something down ya gob every five minutes…. and if you were dry getting to the airport… that’s your fault. You’re not a child. Did you have a drink before the lovely plane ride little Rexy? There’s a good boy.

    Told abruptly… probably to make sure you took the hint instead of asking another fifty times putting on your best ‘dying victim I feel so cold’ voice. They might not miss your $$ Rexy. In business terms you’re if anything the pain in the sack customer that costs them more than it’s worth…. hahahha. Got any more travel stories? I want to LOL my arse off.

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  10. Hemi2k6 (1 comment) says:

    From NZ but have been living abroad, namely in oz for almost 20 years off & on, spanning the last 3 decades. Traveled across the ‘ditch’ numerous times. Traveled extensively throughout oz as well.

    I agree with ‘Left Right and Centre’, you get what you pay for, so to speak. . .

    One time I flew home to NZ, last minute booking couple days before x-mas. Qantas & AirNZ wanted $AUS900 one way! Found a flight with Virgin for $AUS700 one way, (Pacific Blue). Only catch was Melb > Bris > Welly. Bugger it, thought I’d give it a go, it’ll save me $AUS200 anyway. Well, since the plane was full, Virgin was flicking off the seats they couldn’t sell, so I ended up flying business class from Melb to Bris. Since my luggage was tagged ‘priority’, it’ll be forwarded on to Wellington without my inception at Bris, I was told by Virgin staff.

    Anyway, Bris to Welly I had to pay for dinner and a movie, of which I didn’t mind paying. Like I said, you get what you pay for. And it was still cheaper than Qantas or AirNZ. Went to collect my luggage in Wellington & my bag was 2nd off the carousel, ’cause it was still tagged ‘priority’.

    AWESOME I thought, how much better could this get. . .Easily pissed through Customs & Immigration in NZ. I was off the plane and in my sister’s car within 20 minutes, with my 3 x 1 litre bottles of top shelf & carton of smokes + luggage.

    Spent the night in Wellington, drove to Hastings to be with my mum for x-mas. Spent a few days in the Coromandel fishing with my brother. Went to my other sisters wedding in Hamilton, New Years. Flew from Auckland back to Melb $NZD500 with AirNZ.

    Moral of the Story: Be prepared to pay for that little bit extra, if you want that little bit of quality.

    @REX, your last statement: ‘Oh for the days of Ansett…’

    I remember flying TAA & Ansett years ago here in oz. But noting concerns me more than how the fuck is Jetstar (Qantas, parent company) allowed to fly domestic within NZ, when the oz government reneged on a deal to allow AirNZ to fly doemstic within oz, if they bail out Ansett? ? ? AirNZ spent almost ½ billion $’s on Ansett so AirNZ could fly domestic within oz. It may have been better letting AirNZ fly domestic within oz, rather that Tiger or Jetstar! ! !

    Just my humble opinion, if anyone else thinks differently. . .voice your concern.

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