I have been doing a lot of flying recently and on the two most recent flights back from Sydney, there have been members of the Qantas crew – one a pilot, the other a flight attendant, both in uniform – sitting in business class.
What is the message to paying customers? That the staff are more important than the customers. Presumably, the right of staff to fly business class is set down in some sort of agreement. But, frankly, until the airline gets rid of this arrangement, it is not being serious about ‘getting its house in order’.
(Ansett was also run for the benefit of the staff – they were a very happy lot until it collapsed.)
But just in case, you think that this sort of thinking does not infect Jetstar, think again. In our inimitable fashion, Tony and I had managed to book ourselves on different flights back from Queensland (only an hour or so apart) recently. When I asked the check-in clerk at the airport whether I could change to the earlier flight, his reply was:
“WE can’t even do that”.
In other words, staff members are more important than customers.
And just to finish off my story, the travelling perks afforded to current and ex-Qantas staff (and family members) are just ludicrous. They include deeply discounted fares (and I mean, deeply discounted ie. 10 per cent of the fare) and these rights persist for years after staff have left the airline.
Sure, there are issues of getting on flights but this is the part I love – if a staff member or ex-staff member does not get on to their preferred flight, their stay at a hotel is subsidised by the airline.
Arguably, the provision of seats to staff is pretty low cost if there are empty ones (although I would imagine there is a whole slew of people working in Qantas organising staff and ex-staff travel), but to actually pay out cash to subsidise hotel bills, that is another thing altogether.
It’s the Qantas collective … but, funnily enough, the paying customer will always win out eventually.