Qantas, the National Beggar.

Not content to compete on traditional measures such as quality of service, value for money and the overall customer service experience, Qantas has announced that it’s simply going to start begging customers to fly with them.

Speaking in London yesterday, Qantas executive general manager John Borghetti said that not since the SARS flu scare seven years ago had the airliner embarked on such a large campaign to remind people about the Australian brand.

“Mr Borghetti conceded the airline’s reputation had suffered in the past 12 months and the recession had dampened demand for travel. ”

“He said the Flying Kangaroo remained one of the most emotion-tied brands in the country and together with price initiatives, the airline would remain one of the most viable in the world. ”

Since when did slashing prices become an effective strategy to repairing a damaged brand? 

What Qantas continually refuse to acknowldege is that their in-flight service is atrocious.

Having just flown Malaysian Airlines (once again), I was incredibly impressed with the quality of service in economy. The cabin crew are friendly and helpful, the food is great and the drinks are free-flowing. There is a even a dedicated Customer Service Manager in addition to the cabin crew who personally goes around the cabin greeting and talking to passengers, arranging additional drinks and snacks in addition to the pre-set meals and drinks. 

Compare this to Qantas where you just get sneered at if you so much as ask the cabin crew for a glass of water.

It’s about time that Qantas realised that other airlines – particularly those in SE Asia – are providing a far superior inflight service and until they catch up in this department, then they will not repair their reputation.

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33 Responses

  1. Well perhaps the cabin crew are a little up themselves, but Qantas is a great airline.

    We should be proud of it and support it.

  2. “We should be proud of it and support it.”

    Why Tom? Qantas concede themselves that their reputation is poor. Slashing prices is not the way to repair a damaged brand. Improving the overall customer service experience is, but Qantas fail to recognise this.

    I’m sorry, but I can’t be proud of something that is second or third rate compared to other alternative suppliers…

  3. Indeed Tom. Why?

    I get pathetic service when I fly with Qantas to Manila (which I do frequently). I have now dumped Qantas and will fly with SIA via Singapore as I get to Manila more refreshed.

  4. We ought to be proud that Qantas continues to maintain a huge Australian workforce. It overwhelmingly performs its own maintenance, employing tradespersons, apprentices, and qualified engineers. It hasn’t fragmented the workforce through shonky contracting.

    It is one of an ever diminishing number of Australian companies that remain committed to Australia.

    Despite the disruptive wildcat action that occurred over the weekend by some baggage handlers, Qantas continues a strong commitment to Australia.

    We should support this company, or the skill base it provides will be lost. With no way of recovering it.

  5. Which reminds me of my last experience flying international with qantas. I pressed the attendant button to order a drink.

    The steward arrived and asked the guy sitting next to me wether he wanted anything. The guy said “no” and before I could say anything the attendant stormed off.

    I pressed the button again, and the flight attendant returned, and all abrupt and irate declared “I was here just a minute ago.”

    “I would like to order a drink” I said. To which he said:

    “Well you should’ve asked”

    “No, I said, you should have offered.”

    “No you should’ve asked. I’m busy, don’t waste my time” he said.

    “Are you always this rude?” I asked.

    He then stormed off without saying anything nor offering me a drink.

    Yep, service we can all be proud of…

  6. reb, I can only assume that this experience occurred in economy.

    Yes, it must be a nightmare back there!!!

  7. Tom,

    Correct. These days you have to fly Business Class with Qantas to receive the same service you’d experience with anyone else in economy…

  8. Ok, I’ve already admitted that the cabin crew are a bit up themselves.

    The point is that Qantas remains one of the very few profitable airlines, it retains a strong commitment to Australia through employment of a huge workforce.

    I’ve written complaints to the MD of Qantas in the past and received a good response.

    Perhaps try it.

  9. “Perhaps try it”

    Why bother? I’ll just vote with my feet…

  10. reb, I can only assume that this experience occurred in economy.

    Yes, it must be a nightmare back there!!!

    And this is possibly one of the problems of Qantas, it only acknowledges corporate Australia, you know those people who don’t even pay for their own tickets when they fly. The rest of us who actually pay with our own money and go economy are very obviously treated as the ‘cattle class’. And don’t get me started on the contemptuous treatment of Jetstar to it’s own passengers!

    Well perhaps the cabin crew are a little up themselves, but Qantas is a great airline.

    Why aren’t they pulled into line then?

    I don’t know how you can separate the ‘face of the airline’ the ones who provide the customer service from all other service depts. eg. maintenance. If the customer service is lacking, it reflects badly on the airline as a whole.

    Why isn’t customer service a valuable tradition of the company? This is what the paying customers are interested in.

  11. The last good publicity qantas had was Rain Man. Since then it’s all been about near-misses and poor maintenance. If the in-flight service is as poor as you say, Reb, then they need a bomb under them. Good service and word-of-mouth are often the best publicity a business can get.

    BTW, there is no need to feel proud of a publicly listed company like Qantas unless it offers a good reason to feel such pride. As far as I know, some of its maintenance is now being carried out off-shore, and it often threatens to increase the ratio.

  12. Tom

    ” it retains a strong commitment to Australia through employment of a huge workforce.”

    Not sure about that. This ‘commitment’ by Dixon et al (including the Board) seemed to be wanting back in April 2007 when they were falling over themselves to sell(out) to the APA consortium. If they had been successful back then QANTAS would now be toast. A luck escape but no thanks to the Australian management.

    Reb:

    “He then stormed off without saying anything nor offering me a drink.”

    Lucky you! Never have words with anyone who is about to pour you a drink out of your line of sight. Lol.

  13. “then they need a bomb under them.”

    Oops. Maybe I should have phrased that differently.

    😳

  14. reb

    I like this line form management.

    Mr Borghetti conceded the airline’s reputation had suffered in the past 12 months and the recession had dampened the demand for travel.

    But he said the flying kangaroo remained one of the most emotion-tied brands in the country and together with price initiatives, the airline would remain one of the most viable in the world.

    “I think it suffered a little, it got a bit tarnished in the last calendar year and that was more attributed to industrial disputes we were having with engineers which caused delays and disruptions to our customers domestically and internationally,” he said.

    Once again its all the unions fault,

    An airline decimated by a management all too concerned with their own salaries and share bonuses based on short term gain and trying to sell the ariline to a private consortium which would have netted them hunderds of millions between them and the current management has the audacity to blame union action over the last 12 months as what has damaged their reputation. Their reputation has been getting worse and worse for 8 years now. And remember I still fly QANTAS.

  15. Has anyone noticed that all the routes frequented by our politicians still have QANTAS flying rather than or in addition to Jetstar. Does that tell you something ?

  16. Reb

    Are we going to have a self-service watercooler on the flight today?

  17. Yes, TomM, i must wonder about this ‘commitment’ that Qantas has to Australian workers.

    I just wonder how great that ‘commitment’ would be without the pressure from the unions.

    They did attempt to move a large protion of maintenance overseas, only buckling under union pressure.

    But on the other hand, as a company and an Australian icon, we should be proud, and we should support them, and those that work there.

  18. But on the other hand, as a company and an Australian icon, we should be proud, and we should support them, and those that work there.

    Don’t you think that Qantas is taking the patronage, pride and support of Australians for granted?

  19. kittylitter

    Yes I do, on the management side.

    But there are a large number of employees who don’t, those are the ones I am thinking of.

  20. Thanks Tom R, for some very qualified agreement.

    If Qantas isn’t around, who in Australia will employ aeronautical engineers? Or avionics apprentices? Or the skilled trades that overhaul complicated instrument and engine components?

    You can rest assured that it won’t be Virgin, and I don’t think Malaysian has any plans to expand their Australian employment.

    In turning away from Qantas people are undermining the actual existence of in industry here. The Qantas Board will always (try to?) take decisions that provide the best outcome for shareholders, they have to by law.

    It is up to consumers to ensure that the best commercial decision is also the best decision for local employment. Unions have a role to play in this as well, they’d do better to –
    • Encourage flexibility in cabin crews.
    • Stop the type of stupid behaviour that occurred with baggage handlers over the weekend.
    • Consolidate union coverage, from the ridiculous number they have at the moment.

  21. but but but Tom……

    Surely the customer service experience should be the number one priority for Quaint Ass…?

    If customers aren’t happy with Q, and they know they can get better service/value for money elsewhere, they’ll simply vote with their feet (like me) and go elsewhere….

  22. reb – “If customers aren’t happy with Q, and they know they can get better service/value for money elsewhere, they’ll simply vote with their feet (like me) and go elsewhere….”

    But you won’t bother to email the MD with your opinions…

    As I said earlier, I’ve always been inclined to advise of my experience, good & bad. I tend to think people shold do this.

  23. These poor people tried to complain too, seems to fall upon deaf ears!

    nocustomerservice.com

  24. Yes Kittylitter, obviously experience the problems of poor service at Qantas. But to me supporting the participation of Australia in this industry and our local employment is most important criteria.

    I think there should be more loyalty towards Qantas, despite the occasional glitches. The more people abandon flying with Qantas, the more pressure there is on the board and management to cut costs by sending jobs and services off shore.

    Qantas needs to succeed, this is in our own interest.

  25. … I mean – I experience the problems of poor service…

  26. … I mean – I experience the problems of poor service…

    Oh, and I thought that enlargement would help help in the service department!

  27. not help help just help

  28. The combination of silicon and botox in the “service department” has had a marvellous effect.

    My mistress – Brandi – is particularly impressed. She says my performance is now as good as the entire Port Adelaide senior list and I think that’s meant as a compliment!

  29. I agree with you Tom. Despite the totally atrocious and over exaggerated bs that’s pervaded the national media and exposed every tiny delay or problem, which if they knew anything or had worked in the industry as I have, they would know most of which are routine, only illustrated that the latest media ‘fad’ was Qantas bashing. I notice now they are hounding Tiger and Virgin Blue so the carousels obviously revolved and it’s their turn.
    Fact is, Qantas has been doing off-shore maintenance in overflow situations since it bought the 747’s in 1971. For 2-3 years they were maintained by United Airlines in San Francisco.
    In addition, anyone still sceptical should read the opening pages of a recent issue of Australian Aviation (quite often critical of Qantas) that eloquently explained why Qantas and Air NZ are two of the leading technical airlines in the world and listed all of the industry changing safety and maintenance practices that they have pioneed between them.
    OK, the service may not always be perfect, but if you dig deep enough you’ll find bad stories about other carriers as well. Even the much vaunted Singapore Airlines.
    If you want to talk about a consistently good airline then Cathay would get my vote but it is all relative.
    Example 1.
    My wife and I travelled on Virgin Blue and we were split seated with our kids across an aisle so no big deal really. My wife politely asked the Virgin Flight Attendant if she could re-arrange the seating. She was sneered at. I have had similar experiences on Virgin travelling alone. Perhaps if they concentrated a bit more on politeness and service and a bit less on their over the top stupid games and comments they might rise in my estimation.
    On two other examples, one where my wife was rushing to her brothers side in his last few days she travelled Qantas with both our kids, one of which was an infant.
    Not only were the crew consistently friendly, attentive, caring and compassionate on the latter trip, half the crew on the 737 who were signing off in Adelaide waited with my wife and carried her baggage and one of the kids to the Augusta Airways departure area AND waited until her flight departed.
    I don’t care what you say because you weren’t offered a drink, I am DAMN PROUD of that company for that incident alone.
    Everyone wants to bag Qantas but when people were stranded in Thailand recently for weeks, despite the fact they had travelled on el-cheapo so-called ‘sterling service’ Asian carriers, who rushed to clear the stranded Australians? Qantas. I didn’t see Singapore Airlines or Malaysian Airlines rushing in to bring stranded Australians home, or even Thai on whom lots of people were booked.
    It just makes me laugh that people bag the crap out of Qantas yet when the chips are down, they almost demand that ‘their airline’ should come and rescue them.

  30. One last thing.
    Re the two incidents last year which sent the media into a frenzy.
    The Oxygen Bottle incident has the entire industry guessing as it has never happened before and likely, will never happen again but will likely lead to changed design rules for Boeing and other aircraft.
    No mention in the media of this – obviously because it’s not good ‘copy’ to admit you might have been wrong.
    Secondly, Airbus has taken responsibility for the software problem that sent the Qantas A330 into a dive and it has been pointed out that it also occurred twice to Malaysian Airlines a year or so ago.
    Once again, no mention of this in the mainstream media because it’s not sensationalist to present a balanced report which talks about facts.
    People, including the media, forget that Qantas was negotiating with its Engineering personnel at the time and it wouldn’t be entirely out of the ball-park for unions or personnel to slip selective facts to a frenzied media out of context now would it???
    In fact, since the wiring issue in Singapore, which Qantas took active measures to fix at the time (let’s remember, it was picked up by Qantas on return because they check aircraft before they return to service from off-shore providers) they have abandoned using Singapore Airlines Maintenance and are funding their own training and maintenance facility for overflow maintenance in KL in conjunction with Malyasia Airlines.
    None of this once again, gets the front page pizzaz in the mainstream media.
    BTW, last Skytracks ranked Qantas Number 3 in the world. This year they are number six. Sure, they’ve slipped but they are still in the top ten.
    Forgetting of course that the airlines that beat them don’t have commercial realities to face, most of them are government owned and subsidised to the hilt.

  31. Rocket

    While I agree with a number of your points I just question whether your comments are reflective of a person in the industry in Management or an employee doing the front line service with customers.

    My problem with QANTAS lies with management and their decisions and not the staff of the airline who deal with the general public or maintenance.

  32. It’s about time that Qantas realised that other airlines – particularly those in SE Asia – are providing a far superior inflight service and until they catch up in this department, then they will not repair their reputation.

    And all that service for only four dollars an hour per labour unit! Remember, QANTAS is competing with planes which are routinely turned into ploughs or impromptu artificial reefs, and service personnel recruitment drawing on pools of labour where having any paid job is a step-up, and where the ‘Catch Me If You Can’ glamour and social status of the airline industry still holds, even on long-haul flights, compared with the at-home alternatives.

  33. Shaeinqld,
    I am not in Management and am no longer in the industry, have not been for quite a while. While I did hold some management positions, I also started on the front line so I am well aware of the issues there.
    I think, without being ‘big headed’ that I could say with some truth that I was generally respected by my subordinates and that respect was earned by standing up for them when necessary, offering guidance and sometimes stern words when they did not do the right thing and by the fact that I knew what the hell I was doing as I had done their jobs previously.
    I accept your comments re management and take them on board as, let me tell you there are some brilliant and very loyal, customer focused managers in Qantas but there are also, like every other industry, some total morons who have no idea of the industry they are in or the requirements of the customer.
    This is reflective of general industry practice these days. dots joined on a resume and sometimes fictitious ‘acheivements’ are given more weight than actually knowing what you are talking about.
    Let’s not forget, the principle objective of a company like Qantas these days is to provide a return on investment. I am not saying they are perfect, only that my overwhelming experience with them has been positive and maybe makes me be not so affected by the occasional mis-managed situation. Let’s face it, my experience on the front line is that in many circumstances customers are arrogant dismissive and rude and this seems to be something that all airlines and airports suffer from – I have often thought that someone could get a PhD by studying what exactly it is that makes normally well behaved people think that they are allowed to call employees f-ing c’s JUST because they are in an airport environment.
    I think to be balanced, some of the rudeness cited by people against Qantas is because a) sometimes you get a no-hoper who’s got no c/svc skills and other times b) you get someone who is firm where the customer is trying it on. Whereas the Oriental Culture does tend to subservience, the Australian culture tends to standing up for one’s self.
    I can vouch personnally that more often than not there are at least 50% of dissatisfied customers who are trying to get something they have not paid for for nothing and I know for a fact that Qantas, and some other airlines have steadfastly refused things like upgrades on the basis that the bloke who’s paid 15,000 return for his business class ticket doesn’t want some wanker sitting next to him who’s abused everyone in sight and got there after paying an economy fare.
    I admit, even in my experience, idiotic managers devise schemes aimed at improving service and IGNORE the feedback from the people delivering the service that certain aspects wont work, result – disaster.
    However, having worked in other industries, there is no difference. The only thing that holds things back a bit in the airline industry is that it is so heavily regulated.
    It’s the classic case of being on the other side of the fence.
    Mismanagement makes customers more disposed to arrogance and/or well founded complaints (from the 50 odd percent who are articulate and rightly firm in expressing their dissatisfaction) because of lack of resources, etc. This in turn can make otherwise reasonable and well skilled and focussed employees react with short-temperedness in some situations because they become beleagured by the mis-management.
    The best managers I have seen understand the business fundamentals, LISTEN to their staff about how best to implement service and support them when necessary.
    Qantas has been in that sweet spot before and will be again, I have no doubt. The new Management including people like Lyell Strambi are very skilled and customer focussed and I think you will find over time they will engender a change in management philosophy.
    However, let’s not forget we made this world where jobs are interchangeable and disposable and loyalty is no longer valued. You can be as loyal as a soldier one day and redundant the next.
    The difference with the Asian carriers as noted by Legion is that there is a hell of a lot of slap-dash under the surface even though they seem to be customer focussed on the top. Give me Qantas any day on technical excellence and equipment standards and I’ll ride the occasional bad service experience because my experience is if you complain, you usually get looked after later on in one way or another.

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