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travelers rage at Alan Joyce over chaos

Overwhelmed staff snapping at distressed flyers, baggage going astray for days with no word on its whereabouts, flights delayed and trips rerouted through cities across the other side of the country or just plain cancelled.

It’s not even the school holidays yet and commuters have taken the national carrier to task. Their message: Qantas is quickly becoming a failed airline and CEO Alan Joyce must resign.

Yesterday Crikey made a deal with Joyce. Given that the CEO keeps blaming crappy travel experiences on passengers or the airport staff (anything but his own corporate governance), these holidays we passengers will get “match fit” and ready to fly like pros. All Qantas has to do is what it says on the packet: get us (and our luggage) from point A to point B within, say, an hour or two of the prearranged time.

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If not, we’re going to do what Qantas customer service staff used to do before their jobs were axed in the pandemic, and document everything that goes wrong on the ground and in the air to demonstrate to Joyce just how bad his problem is.

If you’re flying with Qantas over the winter break, fill us in on your stories at boss@crikey.com.au

‘God-awful’ experiences with Qantas

Some of the reports we’ve received read like an Australian tourism industry-focused reboot of Fawlty Towers. Christiana Paterson booked from Perth to Alice Springs in March. Then she got a notification that her return flight was rerouted… through Sydney.

“Now I don’t know about you, but I usually like to book my nine-hour hauls for destinations like… ohhh, I don’t know? THE PHILIPPINES?!”

Paterson decided to make a trip of it and stay in Sydney an extra night. Except Qantas expected her to pay double for the experience. Then when she called to try to talk through her options, she was put on hold for 40 minutes — several times.

Rodney Bettany had a six-hour delay for a flight to Bangkok with little warning. The airline gave passengers meal vouchers, but the vendors on the voucher tickets had been closed for two years.

Chaos, and no one to clean up the mess

A common theme among travelers is that when things have gone wrong, staff have been too overwhelmed with the sheer volume of problems that they are unable to help.

Libby Hicks-Maitland was flying out of Melbourne. When she got to the airport the board showed her flight de ella was canceled — no text, no email. When she found Qantas staff and asked to book on another flight, the computer wasn’t working. Staff told her to work it out on her own device.

“If I had created that mess for my clients I would have been sacked,” Hicks-Maitland said. “Why is [Alan Joyce] paid so much to create this mess and why is he still in his position?”

These stories are echoed on Twitter, to which travelers are turning after being unable to get any assistance from the airline.

Ace Crikey reported yesterday, Joyce sacked almost 6,000 staff during the pandemic, including in customer service. Baggage handlers copped the brunt of it, with about 1700 losing their jobs in a move that was later found by the Federal Court to be illegal. Their jobs have since been outsourced to a third party contractor. On top of this, many of the baggage handlers who were sacked have been refused new airport jobs, despite the chaos in airports around the country.

as one Crikey reader put it: “Qantas and everything about it has become a farce and a joke.”

Crikey is determined to hold Joyce and his airline to account over one of the busiest travel periods. Keep us in the loop regarding your experiences with Qantas over the winter break by writing to boss@crikey.com.au

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Australia has spoken. We want more from the people in power and deserve a media that keeps them on their toes. And thank you, because it’s been made abundantly clear that at Crikey we’re on the right track.

We’ve pushed our journalism as far as we could go. And that’s only been possible with reader support. Thank you. And if you haven’t yet subscribed, this is your time to join tens of thousands of Crikey members to take the plunge.

peter fray

peter fray
Editor-in-chief

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