Monday, September 6, 2010

Bye-Bye, Birdie

Dear Jetstar

Strike One:‭ ‬that unpleasant and thoughtless flight attendant who insisted at the very last instant before borarding that my wife's handmade violin could not travel in the cabin,‭ ‬but had to be checked in with luggage.

Strike Two:‭ ‬when you wouldn't allow my son to fly on his own from Launceston to Melbourne.

Strike Three:‭ ‬the bit where you made my son and I wait every last tick of the clock to the very second of precisely two hours before boarding until we could check our baggage,

You.‭ ‬Are.‭ ‬Out.

I understand the concept:‭ ‬no-frills,‭ ‬absolute basic service.‭ ‬I expect that.‭ ‬I have no problems with it.‭ ‬I've flown Tiger Air without a word of protest.‭ ‬But there's a line between‭ “‬no-frills‭” ‬and‭ “‬braindead stupidity,‭” ‬and your policies have crossed that line.‭ ‬Allow me to elucidate.

In the case of the violin:‭ ‬yes,‭ ‬it is slightly longer than the mandated maximum cabin baggage.‭ ‬Slightly.‭ ‬But it is much smaller in width and height,‭ ‬and it is quite light.‭ ‬It is also very expensive,‭ ‬and uniquely vulnerable to changes in atmospheric pressure,‭ ‬in temperature,‭ ‬and humidity.‭ ‬No other airline has ever made this idiotic ruling,‭ ‬and never before has it been a problem even with your regular substandard service.‭ ‬Natalie actually lodged a complaint,‭ ‬and according to your professional apologisers, it was just one ridiculously overzealous attendant behaving like a pocket Hitler‭ – ‬but the fact that you employ people like that,‭ ‬and that you place them in a position which leaves us no recourse,‭ ‬as customers,‭ ‬when we have to deal with them,‭ ‬tells me your organisation is not one with which I care to have dealings.‭

In the case of the boy‭ – ‬well,‭ ‬Virgin had no problems.‭ ‬Yeah,‭ ‬we had to fill out forms,‭ ‬write letters of introduction and involve a code word,‭ ‬but you know there was a parent at one end of the trip,‭ ‬and another parent at the other,‭ ‬and we weren't asking you to treat him with any special care.‭ ‬He's ten.‭ ‬He's smart‭ – ‬really smart,‭ ‬and quite capable of taking a‭ ‬45-minute trip involving cabin baggage only without any issues.‭ (‬In fact,‭ ‬he was peeved at the Virgin people who wouldn't serve him hot noodles in flight in case he burned himself.‭ ‬May I point out he is also quite capable of eating noodles by himself‭?)

We wanted nothing more from you than you offer any other passenger.‭ ‬Your inability to accept that a child might be capable of this simple task once again illustrates that your company is simply too stupid for my business.

Finally,‭ ‬the issue of the two-hour-before-flight limit on depositing our bags.‭ ‬Yes.‭ ‬That.‭ ‬I stood there with my‭ ‬20kg bag,‭ ‬and the boy with his‭ ‬10kg bag,‭ ‬watching your counter attendants chat amiably with one another,‭ ‬doing nothing in particular,‭ ‬as the minutes ticked away.‭ ‬We'd already walked off and killed forty minutes getting food and last-minute presents, carrying our bags because your 'service' applies this moronic rule.‭ ‬Why did we have to wait that last five minutes while your people literally did nothing‭?

That's got nothing to do with no-frills service.‭ ‬It's to your advantage to collect early arriver's bags and store them conveniently for your handlers.‭ ‬It is also to your advantage not having people with piles of luggage cluttering up the approaches to your desks,‭ ‬or blocking general passage through the concourse.‭ ‬The strict,‭ ‬rigid,‭ ‬two-hours-to-the-minute limit is simply bloody-minded and stupid.‭ Let me point out that when my family recently returned from Borneo/Singapore by way of Singapore Airlines, we had a six hour layover in Melbourne before our Virgin flight to Launceston.

‭Did Virgin force us to sit for four hours with our luggage out in the middle of the concourse, in everybody’s way? No. Of course they didn’t. They let us check in as soon as we got there. They took our large, heavy bags and put them away for the next four or five hours. That let my family head down to the departure lounge, find a quiet corner, and get some desperately needed crash time. All of which makes your system look ever more petty and stupid.

Of course,‭ ‬your presumption is that all this passive-aggressive bullshit will force me to give up on your budget carrier,‭ ‬and drive me to your far more expensive‭ (‬and‭ ‬profitable‭) ‬parent company,‭ ‬Qantas.‭ ‬Unfortunately for you,‭ ‬I'm not that amenable.

I dislike being manipulated.‭ ‬I dislike being pushed around.‭ ‬I dislike the assumption that I'm too stupid to know when I'm being treated badly.‭

Frankly,‭ ‬Jetstar,‭ ‬I dislike you.‭ ‬And thus I dislike Qantas too.

There are five people in my family.‭ ‬My wife flies around Australia regularly,‭ ‬as a doctor,‭ ‬going to medical conferences and so forth.‭ ‬Even I get around a bit.‭ ‬And obviously,‭ ‬we're not averse‭ ‬to taking our kids with us.‭ ‬It's going to cost us more now that we won't use your sad excuse for an airline‭ (‬you know,‭ ‬even Tiger treated us better.‭ ‬If they still flew out of Launceston,‭ ‬I'd use them in a flash.‭) ‬but I can promise you that the extra money won't be going to Qantas,‭ ‬as long as any other airline flies the Australian skies.

Yours sincerely,

Dirk Flinthart.

PS:‭ ‬The hell with you.