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.