COMPLAINT: Qantas - ground officer abuse of power

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Old Jul 13, 2008, 1:16 AM
Liana Rimba Liana Rimba is offline
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 3

We flew as a family of four from Jakarta (one child is 3 y.o), QF 42 on Wednesday night 9 July, 11.00 pm local time. The plane was delayed for two hours due to injury of one of the staff, which was fine to us because their health and safety is also important. Arrived at Sydney airport we had to do custom clearance and immigration check and by the time we had finished it was 11.00 am Sydney time. So we have missed the connecting flight that has left Sydney at 9.00 am. When we were waiting in the line at the international transfer, a Qantas officer approached us and pulled us off the line. She told us her colleague will look after us and just wait there. After 15 minutes no one came and we could not see the girl. So we asked another officer who then told us to go back in queue. At the counter, my husband handed the paper work etc. I did not know the officer re-booked us on 18.00 plane to Melbourne (6-7 hours wait). I then went to a guy and asked for a ground manager as I did not want to bother the counter officer who was busy.

A guy took me to see her and I asked her was there any alternative for us as we have 3 years old. I told her it was Qantas that delayed the trip for two hours. Right on, she was so rude and blasted on me that Qantas has no responsibility whatsoever for stranded passengers and I should read the fine print on the tickets that as long as Qantas took us even at 12 o'clock at night, that's their responsibility. I said but it was not our fault, how about accommodation or meal voucher? She said no, it is not Qantas responsibility. Thank you for your rudeness, and I told her she is a f*** bitch. She screamed, yelled, went psycho, and ordered the security guard to take the WHOLE family of the plane. I walked to the security guards at the security point who were stunt and blank, did not know what to do. She made herself a joke, chasing me, screaming at me, pointed her finger at me, told me I need to sit at the corner think the way I had spoken to her. She took me off the plane to prevent me abusing all other passengers and officers. I thought, this was not good if my whole family have to suffer so I said to her what I have to do, and she said she was not negotiable and that was her decision. I walked to her, she did not want to talk to me, yelling at me to maintain distance. At that time an officer approached me and I said to him that I wanted to talk to her to negotiate and what I need to do to put my family back on board. I asked him whether she actually did take my whole family off the plane. He said to me that she could not do that. I said thank you to him. Back to the security guard I told them that she has no right to take people off the plane. They were relieved and said that no one has the right to do that. The security people are so supportive (they saw how she treated me in front of their eyes) and advised me what to do, go to customer service and asked them alternative and meal voucher, chilled out. They informed me that the guy is actually higher position than her. They asked me, by the way, hush hush, what you actually said to her? I told them I called her f*** bitch, and they said, good on you.

This whole incident was regrettable and not necessary. Qantas is a good organisation, with committed staff who know how to respect and pay courtesy to people, and said the right thing when circumstances call. My complaint is related to the individual who has the position as the face of Qantas on the ground, lack of professionalism, abusing of her power that she did not have and threatening the rest of the family not connected with the incident. I would have expected a simple answer like this:

Yes, I really apologize for the inconvenience, unfortunately, our plane is all fully booked, not only because of school holiday but also there is a world youth day. This is the best we could do for you, we can offer you is meal voucher, go to gate 13, customer service and tell them. It is all so simple and does not cost much to apologize on behalf of her employer who actually paid her wages unfortunately.

Her attitude is rude as a ground officer (manager?), no respect and courtesy. Too many of this incidents would have tarnished the reputation of Qantas. We were just only stranded passengers, who happen to be Qantas shareholders and frequent flyer members. I was quite distraught for a while because of this incident, there is no apology whatsoever. By the time I boarded my plane to Melbourne at 18.00 hours, I was happy, and glad I did what I did.
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Old Jul 13, 2008, 6:43 PM
ChrisH ChrisH is offline
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It sounds like this woman was rude, but you have to take responsibility for your actions, as well. Cursing at her, and calling her names did not help the situation at all. I don't know how it works on Qantas, and in other countries, but in the U.S., if you act up, and curse at an airline employee, they CAN, and WILL remove you from the flight. I've seen it happen, and the airline, also, does not have to rebook you. They can remove you, refund the ticket, and then you are responsible for finding a way to your destination, whatever the cost.

I'm not saying this was all your fault, just to be careful, because depending on where you are, cursing at an airline employee can also wind you up in jail. The problem that occurs all to often, is that passengers think they can talk to airline employees however they wish, and that the employee has to just take it, with a smile on their face. Not true. Be careful with what you say, and who you say it to. All I can say, is based on your story, if you had done this to an airline employee, in the U.S., you would probably have been escorted out of the airport, by those security guards, and possibly thrown into jail, not to mention, your whole family removed from the flight.

Last edited by ChrisH; Jul 13, 2008 at 6:45 PM.
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Old Jul 15, 2008, 6:42 AM
Liana Rimba Liana Rimba is offline
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 3

Thank you Chris.
I do not know how it works in the US. From customer point of view, I am not prepared to be treated like that, I am not asking to be treated like a VIP, just a reasonable answer of admitting a circumstance has occurred and showed empathy. If this can't be done by airline employee, I question why this woman should be employed in a place where there are interaction with people. Unless I blasted to her abusing her when I enquiried, that's different. I enquiried as to what a reasonable person would have asked and received that rude answer, was unacceptable. That "read the fine prints on your tickets" has become a joke, even though legally, we must do that but it was not an appropriate answer under such circumstance. Unless, you are having a court case, I would say it was over over-reacting for such a simple enquiry.

There is a quote something like - Someone will tell once to someone for a good customer service, but for a bad one, people will tell another 100. Even from this incident, a family of five with three young children n my workplace, has booked their domestic trip, continue with an overseas trip, not with Qantas.
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Old Jul 16, 2008, 6:56 AM
ChrisH ChrisH is offline
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It was not called for, for this woman to speak to you, as she did. You shouldn't have to put up with that, but, unfortunately, in some airports, it seems the airline employees are the ones that get away with it, meanwhile, the passengers suffer the consequences, for simply defending themselves.
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Old Aug 16, 2008, 10:40 PM
chersmi chersmi is offline
Join Date: Aug 2008
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Hi Liana, I too agree with Chris H, I and my husband are Qantas Frequent Fliers and I agree that yes the employee was rude to you but I disagree that you called her an expletive. I don't work in the airline industry but I always make sure I am polite and courteous to airline staff, even when they have been impolite or rude to my husband and I. I just think because I have been so polite, it will make them think twice later on about how rude they were, well I hope so. You should have written to Qantas if you haven't already. I am glad you did get on the flight.
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Old Aug 18, 2008, 3:16 PM
abutterfinger25 abutterfinger25 is offline
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Location: Washington Metro Area
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Yes, you should be treated with respect by the agent. But then again, no agent should be cursed at during the course of their duties.

Just remember, any flight delays or irregularities, while they impact you, also impact the staff. Customer tempers rise and so do the agents. If you keep your temperature and tone done, you have a better chance of getting everything taken care of quickly. And agents needs to realize that if they can keep their tempers in check, the flyers will be more willing to listen to negative news.

In my observations, I have seen both cases where the agents go off kilter and where the agents stay levelheaded. And the same with passengers. While I do not have the authority to intervene in this altercations, I do pass my observations and notes back to the carriers involved (Both positive and negatives). I have also on occassion talked with the passenger's after the fact, if I see them again and they are calm.
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Old Sep 16, 2008, 5:28 AM
Liana Rimba Liana Rimba is offline
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 3

Looking back to never use f word, it was the best I ever done in public to have that word for the first time uttered from my mouth. That woman was the manager, how high could I get on the ground? I have no respect for Qantas when that woman exceeded her power she did not have by calling the security to ban me and my family (including 3 years old she knew because I have told her). That was the lowest act a customer service person could have done. Just beyond me. You ought to be in the scene to hear that woman talking to you with her eyes staring at you, fingers moving (gesture of you are naughty). Then you listened to her with your eyes and mouth wide opened, shocked and disbelief of unexpected answers from "Qantas", and your felt your chest expanded with anger and you felt like the world just collapsed on top of your head. You were made felt you wished you never have asked. You know when enough is enough and being an angel won't help. I was very unfortunate to meet this person. In my age of almost half a century, she was the rudest person I have ever experienced, I kept thinking maybe she was on medication that long overdue and I happened to come at the wrong time.

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Old Mar 8, 2009, 9:21 PM
Trvlr Trvlr is offline
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 27

I've had problems with Qantas and the Sydney airport as well. It seems arrogant, unhappy, tiny control-freaks with no aptitude for public service abound in airlines and at airports these days. They all use the same tactic; lie, frustrate, and insult the customer while refusing to take any responsibility whatsoever for the their incompetence or that of the airline they work for, so that when the customer reacts to their abuse, the customer is to blame when they call security. As to your cursing, I don't blame you at all; an adult calling an armed guard because another adult is using 'foul language' is just a lame excuse to avoid responsibility for their own abusive language and actions. Chris is right when he states that in the US this phenomenon is far worse, despite the 1st and 4th amendments, and I will not fly at all any more unless I have to (which is just about never these days). The events of 9/11 have been used as an excuse (despite the fact that you are at far greater risk of being struck by lightning, crushed by a falling vending machine, or killed by a falling coconut than ever being involved in ANY type of terrorist attack) for unscrupulous airlines (virtually all of them) and reactionary, ignorant, self-righteous, disrespectful people to abuse and rob the very public which not only support the airlines as customers, but in the US, SUBSIDIZE the very paychecks these amoral, abusive employees cash with their tax dollars. Have you had a foray with the offensively expensive, utterly useless, incompetent TSA yet? Just wait until you miss a flight because these post-office rejects want to 'randomly search' you and your carry-on to justify the paychecks you fund; the most frustrating and insulting part about the experience will come when you realize that if you had wanted to, you could have easily successfully concealed numerous potentially deadly items in your carry-on despite their ridiculous 'security' measures. Furthermore, airport employees/support staff are FAR greater security risks than passengers and are scrutinized with just as much or more ineptitude than the latter. Welcome to the Brave New World!
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Old Mar 8, 2009, 11:50 PM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Shropshire, England
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The abuse of staff is never justified, but airlines and their employees will sooner or later have to realise that the balance has shifted too far. Airline employees now seem to be empowered to imprison customers on planes, deny boarding, eject passengers for the flimiest of reasons. After the event, they will justify their actions at all costs. In these forums we have had cases of a mother and child ejected because the baby was saying "bye bye plane". The nazi who ejected that child and mother should be publicly exposed. Sadly, it is not that rare!
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