COMPLAINT: Qatar 84 JFK-Doha: Is Qatar losing its edge?

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Old Jun 14, 2012, 10:00 PM
blangdon blangdon is offline
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 2

I am a Silver Privilege Card member on Qatar, having flown it extensively during the last six years between Asia and New York, and most recently on new services from Kigali to Doha and Entebbe to Doha. Until about 12 months ago, I would have rated it my favorite airline, followed closely by Emirates and Singapore Air. However, the rapid expansion of Qatar in the last 24 mos has come at a price -- the flights are jam packed and operational staff often poorly trained (as I have seen in both Kigali and Entebbe, and now at JFK)

My current journey involves an itinerary from KGL-DOH-JFK and return. I was about to embark on the return portion of my trip last night, but first had to take a domestic flight from Boston to New York (on Jet Blue). Unfortunately it was delayed due to weather problems and a non-functional lavatory. Therefore I arrived in New York with only 1 hour and 40 minutes to make the connection. As I had to collect my baggage and take a sky train, that was insufficient time. My daughter tried phoning Qatar on my behalf but there was no answer either on the 800 number or the New York number, which just rang unanswered.

The flight was to depart at 23:40 and I arrived at checkin at 22:48 and tried to explain my problem. There were still about 8 attendants at the check in queues. I was told that the flight had closed, but pleaded with them to accept me. They went to a duty manager, named Jovanna, and I followed.

Jovanna was exceptionally rude. She told me there was no way I was checking in and not to ask anyone else for help. I then asked if I could be rebooked or if there was someway they could help me. She told me there was absolutely nothing Qatar could do, no rerouting was possible and that I should return to Jet Blue. I said I had been flying Qatar for years and I had never encountered such a response, and that with Silver members, most Qatar staff go out of their way to be pleasant and resourceful. I said this was anything but five star service -- not even one star service, and that she was the least helpful and polite Qatar staff member I had ever met. She said she was sorry I felt that way and went to abruptly leave. I said I would be writing this up on Skytrax and she told me she didn't care -- go right ahead and do it.

I then phoned my daughter again and she managed to piece me through on Skype to an agent based in Doha. The connection was very poor, but he did manage to rebook me (at a fee of $195). I then had to purchase a hotel room.

I find it troubling that Qatar would hire a Duty officer of this type, and further, not provide her with the most fundamental of training in customer service. She did this in front of several staff members, and no one intervened.
Unfortunately, the culture of airport service at JFK is very low in general. But just putting a Qatar uniform on a person doesn't make it 5 stars (in fact, there is an overall expectation of service from an airline that markets itself the way Qatar does, which makes this behaviour quite unacceptable, particularly in a managerial position)

I have asked Qatar to remedy this situation, and try to find better staff and training for its offices in the US, as well reimbursement for my out of pocket costs. That was 14 hours ago and I haven't received even an acknowledgment that my email was received.
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Old Jun 15, 2012, 10:35 PM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Shropshire, England
Posts: 3,197

I think it is unreasonable to expect Qatar to pay for the hotel... they were not to blame for the delay and the Jetblue ticket was an entirely separate booking. Sadly, you are correct about the low standards of service in the US airline industry... there was a time when they were the best, they now don't rate at all. Skytrax illustrates their sad decline... I do however, think that Qatar could have done more for a good customer and at least waive the $195 fee.
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Old Jun 16, 2012, 6:33 AM
blangdon blangdon is offline
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 2

I think this divides into two separate issues. One is whether they could have technically accommodated me and made the flight. Having boarded the same flight last night, and seen that the boarding time didn't commence till 23:00, with approximately half of the passengers arriving in the last 20 minutes, I think they could have. I had checked in online and just needed to drop my bags. I notice that women are treated much less courteously than men (and have seen this in Indonesia and Singapore as well as at JFK by Qatari staff) Last night I was challenged as to whether I belonged in the business class line (and I did).

The second issue is that when a passenger has a serious problem, what is Qatar's policy as to how the passenger will be treated and assisted? On prior occasions, I have received help, of a courteous and efficient manner. But on this occasion, I felt I was overtly blown off and that further, the manager was modelling very poor customer services practices to her subordinates. This was reinforced last night when I was informed by the same JFK check-in staff that it was not Qatar's "policy" to verify silver privilege numbers within the booking. I think it will be a long time before I elect to travel with them again, particularly to the US.
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customer service, jfk, qatar, rapid expansion, training

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