When our flight QF 1940 was delayed Wednesday last week, we discovered that Qantas ‘staff’ were really Virgin (Oceania) staff in Qantas uniforms and that the plane which had a malfunctioning part leading to its delay, is a serial offender.
The day started badly when we arrived at the airport at 9am for our 1040am flight. The luggage conveyer belt was broken. This meant we queued for 45 minutes to have our luggage hand-scanned for explosives and manually loaded.
We then waited for half an hour, only to be informed the plane would not be taking off due to a malfunction. The one solitary Qantas/Virgin staffer then contended with 100 puzzled passengers demanding to know what would happen with missed flights etc.
She did her best, but was overwhelmed. Her announcement and apology for the delay took a long time coming. I had implored her to at least let us know what was happening.
I tried to call Qantas head office, but the recorded message said we would wait a minimum of 10 minutes for a service person.
The flight eventually departed an hour or so later to Alice Springs. The delay meant we missed our connecting flight to Melbourne. International travellers missed their connecting flights home as well. In Alice Springs we were housed at Lasseter’s Casino overnight and given a $50 food voucher. This covered breakfast, but not dinner.
An Uluru airport worker told us that Qantas had pulled all their staff from the airport six months ago and contracted Virgin/Oceania employees to take over. A number of regional airports operate the same way.
The person also said the planes, in particular the one we should have been boarding at Uluru, had a malfunctioning computer which caused delays on a regular basis.
Happily our flight from Alice Springs, the next day (Thursday) was on time. Our ‘lunch’ was an unforgettable sandwich with a thin slice of ham, lettuce and tomato relish. The cabin staff were ok, but not extraordinary. No mention was made of the passengers who had been inconvenienced and lost a day or days travel because of missed connecting flights.
Qantas is not a world class airline – even though it likes to think it is.
At best it is a mediocre one which is cost-cutting at every opportunity and at a great cost to ‘valued’ customers, as they referred to us requesting feedback on our previous flight from Melbourne to Uluru.
We don’t feel very valued.