Old Nov 7, 2008, 5:48 PM
kwalden kwalden is offline
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 1
Angry Qantas - AUCKLAND NZ, Mistreat Elderly and young alike

The trip went off without a hitch. Our tour guide was wonderful, but you MUST know about our experience with Qanta's in Auckland New Zealand, we were booked on flight 25 on October 24, departing at 655pm. My mother and I both requested aisle seats. The tour guide tried to get seat assignments prior to our arrival to the airport only to be told that they didn't handle requests until check in for seat requests. Upon arrival to Queenstown we made our requests. Keep in mind these reservations were made MONTHS ago. We did not receive the seat requests we asked for and were not treated very nicely in Queenstown when asking for the seat requests we needed. They said check when you get to Auckland, and we were sent to middle and window seats for the Queenstown to Auckland leg of the return flight. My mother had knee replacement surgery in July, so we are already off to a bad start, but thought what the heck its just a few hours over to Auckland, we can handle that and we'll get the ailes for the trip back to the states. Ok, let me start by saying that we arrived for our next connection 4 hours early. We immediately went to the customer service desk to talk to them about the seat assignments. We were met with a very curt and disagreeable response that all the aisle seats were taken and there would be NO CHANGES.... The flight was full.... Really? Four hours before check in and you DON'T TAKE SEAT ASSIGNMENTS? How can that be? No if you come back later maybe someone can help you if there is a no-show passenger etc. She promptly threw a sign up for our flight that said Qantas flight 25 for October 24 at 635 is full, no seat changes. This lady was in her 50's, heavy makeup, hair pulled up with a pony tail in the back, unfortunately I did not get her name. We were promptly dismissed by her.
After awhile I did go back and try again. I explained to her that i'm not a high maintenance person, but I have clausterphobia, and my mother has a pretty new knee replacement and I would appreciate a helping hand. Even if she could help mother I would sedate myself and endure. Again I was curtly dismissed by her and sent packing. About that time I saw 400 people come in from a cruise ship to start checking in. Funny how that works. If you don't take seat assignments then wouldn't there have been an aisle seat if 400 people had not checked in yet to return to the states? She explained to me that you Qantas has new software and they can't make any changes. REALLY? So then our flight was delayed from a 655 departure to after 8, then it was 9, we are invted by Qantas to come and get a meal voucher ( thank you ! ) while at the voucher desk, I again explain my case to a very nice lady who says they are full and can't make any changes, but yet someone in front of me had just gotten a switch to an aisle seat. HMMMM. do you think they have ganged up on us at this point? I do. After the 400 people check in, I go to the ticket agent to see if she can do anything, again, we are full, can't help you. So I call the 1800 reservation number in New Zealand. The guy on the phone says he can't do anything else for me after I explain the events of the day. By this time he has called the airport ( at my suggestion ) and they tell him basically its out of his hands and they aren't going to help me. Then his supervisor says he sees a couple of seats available and can move us to the back of the plane if that's ok. I said that will be fine, just get us a couple of aisle seats. He gives me the number and says go back to the counter to get the seats I need. Super, so I go back down to the ticket counter to get reprints, THERE ARE NO REPRINTS and the seats he said he assigned me were someone elses. He clearly just wanted to end the call so he continued to get his call time in. So, by this time the plane has been delayed again till after 11pm. Keep in mind we have been there a long time. ( a delayed plane is not an issue, I'm happy to wait for a safe plane.... that is appreciated) When we get town to the gate - finally, we are with a group of very irate Holland America cruise passengers because they are concerned about connecting flights etc. There is a very nice lady at the counter who I have not encountered up to this point, I explain my situation to her, and guess what??????????? Ahh yes, she has SEVERAL aisle seats and was happy to make the change for me. Then the terrors from the customer service desk ( joke ) upstairs come down to help and get everyone loaded on the plane. As I get ready to go through the turn stile one of the agents from upstairs says well I see you finally got your aisle seats, I said yeah finally thank goodness, she said well it is a very full flight there was no where to move you..... REALLY?????? guess what folks, upon arrival to the plane, there were a absolute minimum of atleast 25 aisle seats VACANT. The flight probably was 75%-80% full. Qantas AUCKLAND NEW ZEALAND you are pathetic at customer service and you better get yourselves into some training classes to have a better understanding of empathy, compassion, and a how to better convey a can do spirit.
Old Nov 7, 2008, 11:54 PM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Shropshire, England
Posts: 3,197
Default Just wait for the flurry of airline employees logging on

to explain all manner of complicated reasons why they treated you so badly, or suggesting you were the problem. What it amounts to is that airlines are in a fight to the bottom, treat their customers and staff very badly and this is the result.
Old Nov 8, 2008, 3:56 AM
airhead airhead is offline
Former Airline Employee (NOT OFFICIAL REP)
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 228
Default seat assignments are pain in the seat.

I am glad to hear you finally got the seats you asked for. I am not sure what Quantas policies are but I do know when someone flies on that airline and connects to one of my flights inbound, that airline makes my job difficult. Some of their passengers are upset and sometimes will try to take it out on me.

Usually the biggest complaint is similar to yours in regard to reservations. If a bag is delayed (in passenger terms "lost") coming from that airline, I personally think, "Oh boy, here we go." But I try to do the best I can to help nonetheless.

Here is tip that I hope that helps: upon making the reservation, get a seat assignment that better suits your needs. If one is not available, check in as early as possible to get a better seat. The earlier the better. Most airlines will allow it up to 24 hours.
Old Nov 8, 2008, 4:58 AM
airhead airhead is offline
Former Airline Employee (NOT OFFICIAL REP)
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 228

jimworcs: I halfway agree with you on this one. I am on a fight not to the bottom but the top. The top where, hopefully soon, customer service will be realized as a top priority behind safety, of coarse. I hope like you do, that soon that things will be changed and a place like airlinecomplaint.org will not have to exist.

I have read ALL your postings and you seem very cynical and offer little constructive criticism to either side of a problem and openly dispense defamatory statements about an industry that is obviously in need of help. Might I suggest you offer real help advice or explain with some sense of coherency why you think airlines are big problems so the rest of us have something to work with to make the industry better. Thank you for your time.
Old Nov 8, 2008, 5:26 AM
airhead airhead is offline
Former Airline Employee (NOT OFFICIAL REP)
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 228

I also agree that most employees and some customers are not treated very good in this industry and many more are being laid off in this weak economy. Improvements are very much needed. I want to point out how important it is when anyone is filing a complaint to the airline to include the name (of the rude offender), location, ticket numbers and flight numbers to the airline. Repeat rude offenders are bound (hopefully) to be terminated. It is important to include that information.
Old Nov 9, 2008, 1:11 AM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Shropshire, England
Posts: 3,197
Default I think you are right to say I have become cynical

Hi Airhead,
I think I have become cynical. I have been a fairly frequent traveller over the last 25 years, and the decline in service standards has been dramatic. I know that as the airlines have cut staff and costs and reduced the ability of their agents to use their discretion, the whole travel experience has become fraught and stressful for both staff and passengers. However, in the last 5 years, I have experienced more hostility, rudeness and a lack of care for the passenger than I experienced in the whole of the previous 20 years. I enjoyed travelling and accepted delays and problems as part of the experience, because on the whole I found staff willing and able to assist when problems arose.

Today, you find that many of the ground staff, in Europe at least, don't even work the for airline and when problems arise often disappear and actively seek to avoid their passengers. Airlines in both the US and Europe seek to do the very minimum statutarily required and frankly are at times dishonest in their dealings with customers. Ryanair in Europe for example deceives their passengers about the causes of delays and often loses in court, but I suspect they think the number of people who will go to the trouble of suing is much lower than the cost of compensating a whole flight in accordance with the law.

After the horror of 9/11 the whole travel experience became even more difficult; for staff and passengers. But there has been a hardening of the attitude of many staff towards passengers, and frankly staff sometimes hide behind the "security" excuse to be rude to customers.

I do appreciate your point about constructive criticism, but to be honest I think this is not the purpose of this website. I believe that it is useful to have a website where people are able to vent, in technicolour if necessary, their feelings and experiences when flying. This should be the raw, visceral feelings and frustrations. It is then the job of the airlines to consider why their customers feel this way. Let me give you an example: the two largest lo-cost airlines in Europe are Ryanair and Easyjet. The cost of their flights and their route networks are largely comparible. If however you go on the Skytrax website and look at their customer reviews you will see a dramatic difference between the airlines... ryanair is universally slammed and the customers report their visceral, raw emotions at their sense of abandonment and the hostility and contempt with which they are treated. Easyjet has it's fair share of problems, but as a company the culture of the airline and staff is much more akin to Southwest.. at least an effort to be customer focussed whilst keeping costs down. It is not for me, as a passenger, to tell airlines how to conduct their business.. but rather for airlines to hear directly what customers think and to act on it within the context of their own business model. If that makes me cynical, I plead guilty.

One last thing... no matter how stressed the situation becomes, it is important to remember there is a big difference between the passenger and the employee. The passenger has paid money out to be in the situation and the employee is being paid money to deal with the situation. That is psychologically a big difference and the positions are not equal. I have many times experienced a situation in which on employee of an airline has either a) lied to me or b) told me something is not possible when seeking a small service (such as this lady in asking for an aisle seat). Later, another employee has then been able to do the exact same thing the earlier employee had told me was impossible. This type of inconsistency is endemic in the industry and the lack of any real regulation means that airlines can get away with this conduct. On many routes, the airline is effectively a monopoly. So here is my constructive suggestion: In the US, write to your congressman and demand that the airlines be regulated. In the UK, write to your MP or the MEP. I cannot think of anything else that will make an impact, because there is so little difference between the airlines and so little choice.
Old Dec 3, 2008, 6:15 AM
airhead airhead is offline
Former Airline Employee (NOT OFFICIAL REP)
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 228

Jim, thanks for that feedback. I appreciate it very much and I agree with you about the dynamics of this crazy industry. I am pretty new to this job and after seeing what both passengers and employees go through I am shocked to no end. Especially after the nightmare of learning how to be an agent with no training in a time when nearly every flight was delayed or canceled almost everyday for months straight because of the crazy weather last year (Feb - Jul 2007) in the U.S. I nearly quit my job because:

1. I did not know how to handle getting screamed at on a daily basis.
2. I did not know how to rebook passengers properly (no training)
3. I did not know the rules of the game
4. Could not believe a human being (my boss) would throw someone out there and not even answer the phone when I needed help.

But one day, after I gave my resignation, I saw this as an opportunity to make a difference and help people. Then I discovered this site.

People need to complain but on the other hand, education is important to minimize the potential problems. The airline needs to change they way they do business. The problem with the industry is that their is such a HUGE demand for flying that many passengers are willing to put up with the problems and only a few are wiling to complain properly. I think this paradigm needs changing. I believe it is possible to be able to control situations where all flights are canceled and not make things worse because the airline is too stubborn to do things out of their box.

I don't know enough about this industry yet but rest assured when I figure out a logical business model to improve things I will publish it and push it to investors. Reading many of the complaints here has helped but something is still missing. I think regulation will help but it is still not the cure. I appreciate your comments and I am sorry if I came across a bit harsh. I only want to help others with problems and it is frustrating when nothing can be done.

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