Feb 15 2012

Which is the least worst airline in Australia?

I’m going to the Gold Coast for a friend’s 50th birthday soon (I don’t know how my friends got to be that old either).

Which raises a big dilemma for me – how do I get there?

Normally Doc and I would take a few days out to drive, stopping off and camping at different places along the way. But because I need to be in Sydney for work meetings, we only really have 4 days. I guess we could spend 2 days driving and 2 days there, but it doesn’t make for a relaxing break.

Which only leaves – flying.

But which airline?

I hate Virgin. Always have. I hate their image. I cringe whenever I sit on a Virgin plane and am forced to listen to their sexist, puerile jokes during the welcome and safety messages. And I can’t stand Richard Branson and how he has to surround himself with scantily clad women for every business announcement.

I’m not conservative or even particularly modest. I wear short skirts and high heels, even in a work situation. But if any normal woman ever went to work dressed like one of Richard Branson’s dolly birds, we’d be sacked!  And if any other CEO carried on like him there would be a sexual harassment suit.

I’m sure Richard would say he likes and respects women.  In an “Ask Richard a question” clip on his website somebody asks him why he thinks there aren’t more women in business.  In his answer he says men are lazy and just go with what they know (other men). He thinks that companies should be forced to have 50% representation of women in senior management/boards. A quick look at Virgin Australia shows that only 1 in 7 regular board members and neither of the alternative board members is female. They do better with their senior management with 4 out of 10 being female.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek none of the key executives or board members of the Virgin Group are female.

So, as a woman, feminist and mother of daughters I have a lot of problems giving Richard Branson my money.

Which leaves Jetstar – and Alan Joyce.

Now I know that Qantas and Jetstar are officially operated as two separate companies but that’s not what happens in practice. They don’t compete – Qantas doesn’t fly to the Gold Coast from Sydney and if you try to book a ticket they redirect you to Jetstar.

The Qantas board is not much better than Virgin’s, with 3 women out of 12 board members and 2-3 out of 11 executive management. Jetstar has the same board as Qantas, and 2 out of 4 of its Chief Executive Officers are female.

Making a booking on Qantas or Jetstar used to be automatic anytime I had to fly, but now I agonise over the decision. Alan Joyce grounded the Qantas fleet a couple of hours before my daughter was due to fly home after spending almost a year in the UK.  Even without the personal link I just cannot support what is happening at Qantas.

That said – I still feel that Qantas/Jetstar is the lesser of two evils – or I did until just now.

Here’s a list of the very frustrating problems I encountered in booking a ticket online with Jetstar

  • Very slow connection – this didn’t happen with any other sites I was on so I assume it was a Jetstar problem.
  • They kept automatically adding in “upgrades” which I didn’t notice until I got to the very end and saw the total cost was more than that quoted for the flights. I then had to keep going back to fix it (see number 1 above)
  • A $16 “seat” charge. Am I allowed to stand up all the way?????
  • An extra charge to get Qantas frequent flyer points for the flight.
  • A $30 “online booking fee”. Why am I being charged to do all the work? I decided if I was paying for it anyway I might as well get them to do the work so rang to book our flights. The cheapest flights over the phone are $30 more than they are online. That’s each flight, each way – a total of $120 for the two return flights. That meant going back to the website and going through all the above again. And being charged $30 for the privilege.

Tiger doesn’t fly Sydney – Gold Coast.

So Qantas/Jetstar – please don’t take my booking my flight with you as evidence that I support anything you do. I don’t. I just don’t have much choice this weekend.

Permanent link to this article: http://kathswinbourne.com.au/which-is-the-least-worst-airline-in-australia/

2 comments

1 ping

    • will on February 15, 2012 at 8:53 am

    Virgin Australia is a very different airline now – Since the rebrand from Virgin Blue they have taken on a modern professional image.

    Check out this advertisement after the rebrand, with a female pilot and two male co-workers:

    http://www.thenewspaperworks.com.au/images/StandardImage/virgin-australia-magic-article.jpg

    &

    http://www.boudist.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Virgin-Blue-Uniforms-345.jpg

    1. Thanks Will, who knows, I might find out for myself soon! Though judging by media appearances, Richard Branson doesn’t seem to have changed much.

  1. […] may be aware of my previous problems with airlines, and that’s only some of what’s gone on. I now refuse to fly either Jetstar or Virgin, which can […]

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