An Island Off an Island

Musings from Bruny

I have just completed an online customer experience survey with Air Dolomiti. A subsidiary of Lufthansa you would be forgiven for not necessarily recognising it as a brand; they were unknown to us until a week ago when we flew with them from Genova to Munich. There were a number of things which impressed me about this airline, especially their positive attitude towards constructive feedback.

It’s a shame that Qantas doesn’t take a leaf out of Air Dolomiti’s book! Almost a month after my first message to Qantas’s ‘Customer Care’ service I am still only at the ‘thank you for your message’ stage despite multiple attempts to contact them via various means. Sad when you have to resort to your blog to vent your spleen.

Let’s start at the beginning. We left Hobart on 16 May bound for Sydney and then onto London. Our planned turnaround time in Sydney was comfortable but a series of delays in Hobart made it increasingly tight. Consequently soon after takeoff we informed the cabin crew that we had a connecting international connection. The young woman who we will call K had an interesting response – ‘can you remind me again when we get closer to Sydney, I have a terrible memory’. Right! The consultant in me wanted to suggest that a pad and pencil may come in handy or that she might want to reconsider her career choice; would she remember the safety drill in an emergency? As it happened she did remember we’d asked her something and came back to ask us what we’d asked her. She was ‘onto it’. That’s the last time we ever saw her! Luckily there were another few passengers for the London flight on board, all of whom had received a similar response, and collectively we found our way to the transfer gate to be whisked across the tarmac.

By comparison my new friends at Air Dolomiti handled a similar situation in a proactive and reassuring manner. By the time we landed in Munich on our delayed flight from Genova every transferring passenger had been assured of what was happening and what steps they needed to take regardless of their final destination. Maybe K could see if she could undertake a mentorship process with the Germans?

Relived to be aboard QF1 London bound we settled into our seats. The ‘leather’ on my footrest was shredded and the whole thing was attached to the seat in front at a particularly jaunty angle and the mood lighting had been removed and gaffer taped over. Annoying but first world problem. What wasn’t so acceptable was the remnants of a previous passenger’s meal tray down either side of my seat and their used earplugs in the tray area. I informed the crew who apologised profusely and promised everything would be addressed at our stop over in Darwin. It wasn’t, and the first of my correspondence with ‘Customer Care’ began.

Lesson learnt- take a photo of your luggage for reference!

My mood wasn’t lightened when we arrived at Heathrow but my suitcase didn’t and I began the long process of 1) actually locating the company which handles Qantas lost baggage and 2) dealing with them and their website over the ensuing days. It was only after I found a sympathetic ear at the end of the line a few days after our arrival, when I may have lead her to believe that I had a more important role in the wedding we’d travelled for than mere guest, that things began to move. The word ‘gown’ is quite powerful. It was a week before my bag and I were reunited by which time some of the outfits I’d packed for specific events were surplus to requirements. I must acknowledge Regional Express (REX) here – ‘the years we prefer to forget’ mean that I now always travel with spare underwear and makeup even if it’s only meant to be a day trip so I was at least a little prepared.

Fast forward to last Monday when we turned our faces to the south and boarded QF2 for Sydney after a magical three weeks catching up with family, friends in England and being part of Sam and Guiditta’s wedding in Italy. After a couple of glasses of bubbles in the Qantas Lounge we boarded the plane and settled into our seats. ‘Better just check down the sides’ I said laughingly with my mirth turning to disgust as I ejected a salt and pepper sachet from one side of my seat and a paper napkin from the other. I was on that call button before I’d even been offered the welcome drink. While I feel some assurance that this complaint was recorded the comment that this was a now common problem didn’t fill me with confidence. I’m sure if I scroll through Qantas’s increasingly difficult to navigate site there will be a comment about COVID and cleanliness.

I decided the best way to cope was to sleep the 15 hours to Darwin which I did. I no doubt looked a sight as no care package with eye mask was forthcoming so I wrapped my scarf around my eyes a la ‘pin the tale on the donkey’ and just got on with it.

Arrived in Sydney at 5am and through to the luggage carousel soon afterwards. This time my bag appeared almost immediately but by the time the roundabout came to a standstill there was nary a sign of Marcus’s bag with its distinctive yellow wheels. Another victim of Qantas/LHR or both! The luggage controller must have come from central casting in the ‘how not to offer customer service’ training video. As we were the first flight of the day I dread to think of the help and advice others received. After days of checking the status of Marcus’s bag and a long phone call he received a call today to say it’s in Hobart and should be with us tomorrow, a week after it was last sighted.

So I can hear some of you say ‘just don’t fly Qantas’ and believe me our long-standing loyalty is being tested – this is the Readers Digest version of my complaints. The reality is that when COVID hit we had a number of flights booked with the flying kangaroo and made the decision to support them rather than asking for a refund. We’re now in the situation of having flights booked to use up our credit. Qantas communications constantly talk about respecting each other but increasingly I’m feeling that respect for the customer has gone the way of the Tasmanian Tiger.

Time to take Ruby for a walk and be grateful for the life we lead. Rant over.

Postscript: M’s bag has just been delivered by courier. Thank heavens he had gone by the consignment note not the address label Qantas had affixed to the bag which was going to a ‘Richards’ at Bicheno which is 4.5 hours north of us! The driver twigged there was a problem when he looked at the label as he had delivered to the Bicheno address yesterday. Tell me Qantas, is it that hard?

4 thoughts on “Dear Mr Joyce

  1. Mel says:

    So sorry you had all that annoyance to cope with during your holiday. I remember well all the many things which could go wrong & few of them of your own making. At least they’ve located Marcus’s bag & you should have it soon. As lovely as a trip away is it makes you appreciate your home!! xx


    1. Jan says:

      Just taken Ruby to the beach to catch the winter sun. Beautiful xx


  2. Susan Rallings says:

    Well done Jan,

    Glad you have it off your chest too. Hopefully you will get a reaction and more than a thank you from Customer Care.

    Welcome home. Looking forward to talking to you soon.

    Cheers Sue


    1. Jan says:

      Hello and thank you! We’ve just come back from the beach, beautiful sunny day and everything swept clean after the storms. Hope you two are well. Talk soon .xx


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