Dom Post on Jetstar

January 4th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

Now Jetstar faces another bad news story. It refused to let 12-year-old Ashleigh Harvey fly from Christchurch to Wellington to see her father because only secondary school students are allowed to fly unaccompanied. Ashleigh starts high school in Christchurch later this month.

So let’s take Jetstar at its word and ask: is this a case of treating customers “as if they were friends and family”? Not really. A friend or a family member might reasonably suppose that Ashleigh fails the secondary student test only by a few weeks, and it is therefore daft to be so pedantic about the rule’s application.

A spokeswoman for the airline said the policy was clear. “There has to be some kind of cut-off.” But this is exactly what customers dislike about Jetstar – its mule-headed insistence on the letter of its laws. This is not “bringing a human element” or “empathy” to the customer.

This isn’t the first time Jetstar has bungled its public relations. There was the shocking case of Jeanette Strange, mother of Adam Strange, who was killed by a great white shark at Muriwai. She was told she would have to pay $321 to change a booking to get to Auckland.

It’s the culture, and they simply have it wrong. When Ansett NZ started in New Zealand, they had a great culture as the underdog seeking to win market share. They came across as grateful, every time you flew with them. By contrast, Jetstar seem to think you should be grateful to them for allowing you to fly with them.

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Complaint Letter of the Year

January 2nd, 2014 at 7:18 am by David Farrar

Rich Wisken writes to Jetstar over a recent flight:

Dear Jetstar,

Do you like riddles? I do, that’s why I’m starting this letter with one. What weighs more than a Suzuki Swift, less than a Hummer and smells like the decaying anus of a deceased homeless man? No idea? How about, what measures food portions in kilograms and has the personal hygiene of a French prostitute? Still nothing? Right, one more try. What’s fat as fuck, stinks like shit and should be forced to purchase two seats on a Jetstar flight? That’s right, it’s the man I sat next to under on my flight from Perth to Sydney yesterday.

As I boarded the plane, I mentally high-fived myself for paying the additional $25 for an emergency seat. I was imagining all that extra room, when I was suddenly distracted by what appeared to be an infant hippopotamus located halfway down the aisle. As I got closer, I was relieved to see that it wasn’t a dangerous semi-aquatic African mammal, but a morbidly obese human being. However, this relief was short-lived when I realised that my seat was located somewhere underneath him. …

Pinned to my seat by a fleshy boulder, I started preparing for a 127 Hours-like escape. Thankfully though, the beast moved slightly to his left, which allowed me to stand up, walk to the back of the plane and politely ask the cabin crew to be seated elsewhere. I didn’t catch the names of the three flight attendants, but for the purpose of this letter, I’ll call them: Chatty 1, Chatty 2 and Giggly (I’ve given them all the same surname - Couldnotgiveashit). After my request, Chatty 1 and Chatty 2 continued their conversation, presumably about how shit they are at their jobs, and Giggly, well, she just giggled. I then asked if I could sit in one of the six vacant seats at the back of the aircraft, to whichGiggly responded, “hehehe, they’re for crew only, hehehe”. I think Giggly may be suffering from some form of mental impairment.

I tried to relocate myself without the assistance of the Couldnotgiveashit triplets, but unfortunately everyone with a row to themselves was now lying down. It was then I realised that my fate was sealed. I made my way back to Jabba the Hutt and spent the remainder of the flight smothered in side-boob and cellulite, taking shallow breaths to avoid noxious gas poisoning. Just before landing, I revisited the back of the plane to use the toilet. You could imagine my surprise when I saw both “crew only” rows occupied by non-crew members. I can only assume Giggly let them sit there after she forgot who she was and why she’s flying on a big, shiny metal thing in the sky.

If there were vacant seats, appalling that they didn’t move him.

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Today’s Jetstar story

March 1st, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Kay Blundell at Stuff reports:

Jetstar refused to shift a booking for the mother of shark victim Adam Strange to fly to Auckland after his death.

Jeanette Strange, of Paraparaumu, had already booked return flights from Wellington to visit her son next week.

But after police broke the news to her on Wednesday of her son’s death at Muriwai Beach, her sister rang Jetstar to transfer the booking, telling the airline about the horrific reasons for the change.

“They put me on hold for 10 minutes to talk to a supervisor, then said they were very sorry but could not transfer the booking. She would have to pay $321 for a new ticket,” sister Kay Cresswell said yesterday.

I really don’t know what is wrong with the management of Jetstar. Some of the issues with their service are hard to fix, such as the lack of backup capacity. That is a consequence of being budget. Fair enough.

But not having a system in place where someone can have delegated authority to make decisions that are no brainers will just keep on resulting in these horror stories.

She then contacted Air New Zealand, and was told there were two seats left on a flight to Auckland.

When they arrived at Wellington Airport the flight was full, but police had already notified the airline of their arrival, and it gave Mrs Strange a discounted seat.

She was escorted to the Koru lounge, given refreshments, a diabetic food package for the flight, and was escorted to the plane.

A nice contrast.

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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 Jetstar 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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Jetstar strikes again

October 9th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Elle Hunt at Stuff reports:

A woman says she was “absolutely humiliated” when a Jetstar flight attendant demanded a “pregnancy” medical certificate to fly despite her not expecting a baby.

Kelsey Hughes, 21, of Rangiora, was queuing to board her flight to Christchurch after a weekend in Wellington for the World of WearableArt show.

The flight attendant scanned her ticket and she moved on towards the plane. “Then he stopped and came over to me, holding up the whole queue, and said: ‘Excuse me, ma’am, do you have a medical certificate to fly?’

“I said: ‘A medical certificate? No, why?’, and he said: ‘You need a medical certificate to fly with your pregnancy’.”

Mortified, Miss Hughes explained that she was not expecting. “He said: ‘Oh. Really? Oops. Sorry!’, then just turned around and walked away. He just brushed it off as though it was a simple mistake that anyone could make.”

Oh my God, unless you can actually see the baby kicking, or the mum is the size of a beach ball, you never ever assume.

How could anyone think she is 28 weeks pregnant?

I like that Jetstar provides competition to Air NZ, but they really need to impose a customer service focus on their entire operations and culture.

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Daylight Saving

October 3rd, 2012 at 7:35 am by David Farrar

I remarked on Monday to someone that daylight saving changes are no longer such a big thing. I recall the days of having to adjust all the clocks. But now the computers and the smart phones all adjust automatically, so you wake up on Sunday and that’s it.

Except for Jetstar.

Stuff reports:

Four Jetstar flights between Wellington and Auckland were delayed because the airline forgot about daylight savings.

The 8.15am flight out of the capital on Sunday was about an hour late while crew waited for the plane to arrive from Cairns.

Clocks went forward early on Sunday morning, but that wasn’t factored into schedules. As a knock-on effect, three later flights on the route were delayed.

Unbelievable.

Jetstar NZ seems to be the Wheedle of airlines!

In Australia I have found Jetstar to be fine. It is just their NZ operations which are so continually lacking.

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Another Jetstar complaint

September 19th, 2012 at 6:32 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

At 35 weeks pregnant, Sarah Clear was feeling noticeable enough already. The last thing she wanted was to be escorted off a plane in front of 150 passengers.

Mrs Clear, 33, of Wellington, had flown to Auckland with Jetstar last month to visit a friend in hospital.

Unbeknown to her, she was in breach of Jetstar’s policy on pregnant passengers because she had not obtained a clearance letter from a doctor or midwife.

But no staff member raised any concerns with her, and she had no reason to believe there was any reason she could not fly back to Wellington four days later. …

After the flight left, she managed to reach her midwife, who told the Jetstar manager she was fine to fly, but the airline told her a verbal confirmation was not acceptable.

So instead she caught an Air New Zealand flight home without any difficulty.

Mrs Clear was upset that the airline had not enforced its policy on her first flight.

“I have argued black and blue with them that if they’re going to stick to a policy, they must stick with it both ends. You can’t strand me in Auckland.”

If Jetstar had told her about the need for a letter from her midwife when she arrived for her flight in Wellington, it could have been arranged, she said.

Jetstar’s policy requires passengers who are more than 28 weeks pregnant to carry a letter from a doctor or midwife confirming the estimated delivery date, whether it is a single or multiple birth, and details of any complications.

It forbids travel after 40 weeks for uncomplicated single pregnancies, or after 36 weeks for multiple pregnancies.

Air NZ allows passengers to fly up to the 38th week for single pregnancies, or 32 weeks for multiple ones.

Friends don’t let friends fly Jetstar!

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Armstrong gets Jetstarred

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

Dave Armstrong 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 Jetstar 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 Jetstar 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 Air New Zealand 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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Pilots texting while flying

April 20th, 2012 at 8:41 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Confused Jetstar pilots forgot to lower the wheels and had to abort a landing in Singapore just 150 metres above the ground, after the captain became distracted by his mobile phone, an investigation has found.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau report on the May 27, 2010 incident on Flight JQ57, from Darwin to Singapore, reconstructed a scene of cockpit chaos.

The captain, of more than 13,000 hours flying experience, was distracted by incoming text messages on his phone, while the first officer, of more than 4000 hours experience, was probably fatigued, the report said.

So passengers get told phones must be turned off as they may interfere, but flight staff have their phones on – even during a landing. Is this usual?

Somewhere between 2500 feet and 2000 feet, the captain’s mobile phone started beeping with incoming text messages, and the captain twice did not respond to the co-pilot’s requests.

The co-pilot looked over and saw the captain “preoccupied with his mobile phone”, investigators said. The captain told investigators he was trying to unlock the phone to turn it off, after having forgotten to do so before take-off.

You do not need to unlock a phone to turn it off.

At 1000 feet, the co-pilot scanned the instruments and felt “something was not quite right” but could not spot what it was.

At this stage the captain still did not realise the landing gear had not been lowered, and neither pilot went through their landing checklist.

At 720 feet, a cockpit alert flashed and sounded to warn that the wheels still hadn’t been lowered.

At 650 feet, the captain moved the undercarriage lever “instinctively” but then a “too low” ground-warning alarm sounded as the plane sunk through 500 feet, indicating the landing gear was not fully extended and locked.

The co-pilot was confused by the captain’s action in lowering the wheels, as he was getting ready to do quite the opposite  to abort the landing and re-ascend to the skies, investigators said.

Neither spoke to each other about their intentions.

Good God. So both were trying to land the plane independent of each other. That is real mickey mouse territory.

My policy to never fly Jetstar only applies to their NZ domestic operations currently. On the basis of this report, I’m tempted to apply it globally.

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New Jetstar Policy

July 5th, 2011 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

It is good to see that Jetstar have now come out and decided in future passengers are not allowed to urinate on other passengers. It only took them a few days to decide on this wonderful customer service initiative.

I understand they are now also considering a ban on shitting in the aisle.

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Devlin v Jetstar

May 25th, 2011 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Broadcaster Martin Devlin says cabin crew overreacted in removing him from a Jetstar flight today for alleged unruly behaviour.

The Radio Live host was pulled from the plane by police in Wellington this afternoon after the captain called for help.

The flight was due to arrive in Auckland at 9.25am but heavy fog meant the plane had to return to Wellington, a Jetstar spokeswoman said.

“We were expecting the fog to clear but unfortunately that didn’t happen so we had to go back to Wellington,” she said.

Devlin, 46, said he had only commented about the flight delay and asked if the Jetstar plane had equipment to fly in foggy conditions.

“Nothing happened. I was one of many passengers who wanted to know what was going on. We had been up in the air for hours. The stewardess over-reacted,” he told TVNZ.

He said that after speaking to the stewardess he returned to his seat and police arrived and asked him to leave the plane, which he did voluntarily.

If it was Air NZ, I would have no compunction in comcluding that Devlin must have been in the wrong, and his behaviour must have been threatening to have the Police called.

But this is Jetstar, where the customer service training manual seems to be that passenagers are akin to small vermin. You can’t rule out the possibility that they got him arrested because he asked to go to the toilet.

But witnesses on the flight said Devlin was “making a scene” and being abusive toward the crew after the flight was delayed, the New Zealand Herald reported.

Hmmn, so in this case, the blame may lie with Devlin.

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Jetstar scores another own goal

April 13th, 2011 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

From its first week of operations Jetstar has managed to time and time again alienate and offend its own customers, and potential customers. I’m not even sure if the problem is fixable – their DNA seems to lack the customer service gene.

Personally I will not fly Jetstar in NZ. If a group in Auckland wants to fly me up to speak to them, I now make it a condition that I not be booked on Jetstar.

Their latest stupidity is in Stuff.

Jetstar’s treatment of two high-profile disabled campaigners has been condemned as unacceptable by Disability Issues Minister Tariana Turia.

Tanya Black and Dan Buckingham – presenters of TVNZ disability show Attitude – had been due to fly from Auckland to Wellington yesterday morning but were not allowed on to their aircraft after they were told they each needed to fly with their own caregiver.

After an embarrassing standoff of 20 minutes or more, they ditched Jetstar and bought new tickets to Wellington on Air New Zealand.

Jetstar told The Dominion Post it would be apologising, and refunding their fares. It confirmed part of the airline’s concern was about how they might get to the toilet on the hour-long flight.

They had one “care-giver” between them, which is more than adequate. The chances of them both having to go to the toilet at the same time on a one hour flight is pretty much nil.

I recall when Ansett started up in NZ. They knew they had to gain market share, so they went for superb customer service. Everytime you flew with them, they personally thanked you for supporting their airline. They had the exact attitude an under-dog should have.

Jetstar seems to have developed an attitude normally found reserved for the Belarus Government. They seem to treat customers as a distraction. You can almost imagine they moaning how easy it would be to fly these planes about if there were no passengers to slow things down.

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Jetstar

March 5th, 2011 at 12:27 pm by David Farrar

Another day, and another story about Jetstar.

Jetstar must have the worst corporate reputation or brand of any major company in NZ, because time and time again they treat their custimers like shit. They did it in their first week of operations, and have kept it up since.

It would be great to have decent competition in NZ, but I refuse to fly Jetstar in NZ. Their service is bad enough, but it is their attitude that really appals me.

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Jetstar

October 28th, 2010 at 12:54 pm by David Farrar

I have a policy that I will not fly Jetstar in NZ, based on reports of their delays and service. In fact my policy now even applies to when someone else is paying for the travel – if they really want me to attend their conference etc, then a non Jetstar airline mist be found.

Incidentially I have used them in Australia, where they have been good, It is just their NZ operations which seems to be so bad.

Whale blogs his experience at giving them a try. He has learnt the hard way.

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