Images of lines winding around Melbourne Airport are popping up all over the internet as school holidays begin in many parts of the country.
How will Alan Joyce’s airline deal with this anticipated travel rush, with 350,000 Australians preparing to fly Qantas and Jetstar over the next four days? If past experience is anything to go by, expect complete chaos at an airport near you.
We spoke with the Oh dear community about recent experiences with the national airline, and their stories describe exactly how quickly an airline can go from beloved to disgrace. Many readers have been Qantas travelers all their lives, but their recent experiences have prompted them to never travel with the flying kangaroo again.
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Sue Starfield wrote about her son’s Qantas nightmare, ending her email by stating that it’s “weirdly comforting to know we’re not alone” in her disappointment.
“For years I’ve been that loyal Qantas frequent flyer, racking up miles and status points, looking forward to getting on my Qantas flights, but [Joyce] destroys a great airline and treats the public with utter disdain,” she wrote.
John Honnet described how his daughter was on a business trip to Ballina when her flight back to Sydney had to be canceled due to mechanical problems. She was put on a flight that night and her bags didn’t arrive – they had gone to Albury. She was told the bags would arrive late that night and be dropped off at her hotel, an offer which was subsequently withdrawn.
With work training ahead of her, no clothes or toiletries to hand, and her training materials lost at Ballina airport, she found herself driving from Lismore to the airport at 5am the next day so she could be showered. , dressed and ready for work at 8.30 am.
While Noel Harvey and his wife have been on holiday in Borneo for the past 10 days, their luggage has had a holiday of its own – it has yet to appear. “Despite countless efforts, no one has any idea where our bags are,” Harvey said.
What is also abundantly clear is that staff are taking the brunt of passenger distress, despite passengers being aware that they are not at fault.
Eli Greig wrote about how a flight Melbourne > Perth > London quickly turned into a flight Melbourne > Sydney > Darwin > London. Unsurprisingly, chaos ensued.
The first flight was delayed by two hours, no bus was available to take them to the transfer to Darwin, the flight from Darwin was delayed for seven hours due to “fog in London”, and when they arrived in London their luggage was from there of course not. It came four days later.
“All of Qantas’ flight and ground crews were wonderful and diligently performed their roles under duress,” Greig wrote, but “Joyce is a resource.”
Aviation chaos is not just a matter of Qantas. But …
It’s not just Qantas or Australian airports experiencing chaos. In Europe and the US, travelers are experiencing excruciating wait times at airports for check-in and luggage at major airports as the summer holidays begin, as staff face longer wait times for security clearance to begin training, meaning airports and airlines hopelessly understaffed. Heathrow in London in particular suffers from baggage chaos.
Speaking at a Leadership Matters breakfast hosted by The Western Australian on Wednesday, Joyce brushed aside the situation in Australia, saying that things were much worse in Europe.
What Joyce failed to acknowledge, of course, was that as CEO of Qantas, he contributed significantly to the workforce issues, waging a war against his workforce for the better part of a decade. As Bernard Keane wrote earlier this week, Joyce closed the airline in 2011 instead of dealing with engineers, pilots and transport workers and their unions. During the pandemic, he laid off 6,000 employees, including nearly 1,700 baggage handlers. He will then go to the Supreme Court to appeal a Federal Court ruling that outsourcing these people’s jobs was illegal — potentially inflicting a huge bill on the national airline.
But the CEO was determined that Australia was ahead of the world, telling attendees at breakfast that air travel in Australia will be back to pre-COVID conditions in “weeks or months” but that “in Europe it will be years at that level.” to be”.
According to Joyce, airport queues and baggage grunts were the focus of the recent International Air Transport Association conference, held June 19-21 in Doha, Qatar, where Joyce was believed to have been en route as hundreds of Qantas passengers were left on hard floors in Dallas for 24 hours.
Which brings us to another question: where is Joyce?
Where, oh where, is Alan Joyce?
While his customers wait in line for hours and make repeated unanswered customer service calls about their lost luggage, and while his employees deal with distressed customers at peak times who don’t understand why the airline does the basic job of getting them out of the way in a reasonable amount of time. A to get to point B, where is Joyce?
We know he was at the Leadership Matters breakfast to answer pressing questions about why cheese and crackers were dropped from the menu and why corporate flyers drink $24.99 bottles of wine, but when will he show his face to a lesser friendly audience and explain what is going on?
We really hope he has a nice holiday, because so many of his clients don’t.
If you’re traveling with Qantas this holiday, send us your stories of mistakes and debacles to [email protected] – accompanying photos would be much appreciated! (Please include your full name in the email – stories may be published in future editions of Crikey, please include in your email if you do not wish your story to be shared).