Jan 15 2013

Yet more problems with Jetstar – why can’t airlines just fly planes?

Flock of small birds being chased by an eagle

Things that can fly

I’m at my kids place again, sitting on their balcony with my morning coffee, waiting for everybody to get up. It’s lovely and peaceful, and it’s going to be a beautiful day. At least weatherwise.

I was supposed to be back home again by now, but, as so often happens, plans changed.

My son was due to fly to Cambodia today. It was his first trip overseas (well, apart from that one time his father took him to England when he was 7) and they were very excited about it. It’s been booked for 6 months. The girls (including his girlfriend) are already over there, and he and his mate were flying out this morning to join them.

That is until last night at 7pm when they got an email from Jetstar saying that the middle of 3 flights had been “delayed” – code for cancelled. Just to put you in the picture, they are flying Jetstar, and their original itinerary was:

  1. 15 January depart Sydney 7am – arrive Melbourne 8.40am
  2. 15 January depart Melbourne 12 noon – arrive Singapore 4.45pm
  3. 16 January depart Singapore 10.50am – arrive Phnom Penh 11.45am

There I was, sitting quietly and happily on the lounge, when my son came out brandishing the email “Mum, what does this mean?” I read it with growing horror. By the time I got to the end I was sweating and shaking because I knew exactly what it meant – I would have to ring Jetstar!

You 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 make travelling in Australia quite difficult. It’s lucky Doc’s happy to drive everywhere!

I hate dealing with airlines. No, I loathe dealing with airlines. It’s as bad as dealing with Telcos and has the same effect on me, that is I was screaming at the voice activated answering system because it kept giving me irrelevant options and “couldn’t understand that request”.

Finally I got through to a real person. Unfortunately he had no idea what to do.

“I’ll have to look into the booking some more” he said “Do you mind if I put you on hold for a minute?”

Two minutes later he was back. “I just have to do some more checking. Do you mind if I put you back on hold?”

No, of course not. Well, for the first few minutes I didn’t mind. For the second five minutes I was getting a bit stroppy. At the 27 minute mark I rang Jetstar from another mobile phone, only to be told “we are experiencing longer than usual delays, the wait for an operator is more than 15 minutes.”

A word of advice – if these delays happen regularly, they are not “longer than usual”, they ARE the usual way you do business. Put some more staff on to handle all the calls. Better still, change the way you do business so you don’t get as many calls. And by that I don’t mean push everything to on-line. I mean improve your service! You’re an airline – fly a few planes when you say you will.

At the 40 minute mark he came back “The flight from Melbourne to Singapore is no longer available so they won’t make their connecting flight from Singapore” he said with what was unusual perception.

And that only took him 40 minutes to work out!

I handled it with unusual aplomb “so what are their options?” I asked, very reasonably I thought.

“I was checking that” he responded “The 7am flight to Melbourne on the 15th is OK, then they have JK1007 from Melbourne to Singapore at 8am on the 16th.”

“Yes,” I said, with an edge creeping into my voice “but then how do they get from Singapore to Phnom Penh? That won’t get them there in time for their connecting flight.”

“That’s ok” he responded “That flight is not available either.”

That set the tone for the next hour trying to sort out their flights. The conversation included such gems as “Do they really need to go to Phnom Penh?”  That’s where they’re meeting their friends so it would be useful.

He checked direct flights from Sydney to Phnom Penh (all of them apparently booked up), flights via Bangkok, Manila or Tokyo (none available), flights from Sydney to Singapore (couldn’t get there in time). He checked so many flights that weren’t available I began to wonder if Jetstar have any planes flying today at all.

And the solution? After one hour and 41 minutes (plus a few seconds) on the phone, all their flights have been moved back 24 hours. No extra time in any cities, no diversions via other destinations, just everything moved back 1 day.

Why it took so long to figure that one out I don’t know.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://kathswinbourne.com.au/yet-more-problems-with-jetstar-why-cant-airlines-just-fly-planes/

1 comment

  1. I have started using the local travel agency to book flights, it is worth the $15 booking fee otherwise I have to speak to Qantas each time my unaccompanied minor travels. They then are left to wait on the phone to the airlines and email me my flight details. We have had good service with Qantas which is lucky as it is the only airline that flies out of Armidale:)

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