Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Why Qantas annoy me

Am on a trip to the US for work and like most am compelled to fly Qantas because United offer no alternative, especially as the planes are 50 years old but younger than any member of staff. I feel like I should be standing up and offering them a seat.

I hate the United/Qantas duopoly flying to the US. The AU government confirmed again recently that they would not be granting any rights to Singapore, entrenching the duopoly further. I remember the incredible double speak of the minister as he justified the entrenchment of an anti-competitive arrangement as being in the best interests of the consumer. Here I am as a consumer and I am outraged that I have no choice. Now I find out that the Kangaroo route is going to be even further deregulated; effectively no limits on flights. There are more than 30 airlines to choose from on this route from the fantastic (Singapore, Cathay, Virgin, BA etc) to the ridiculous (Royal Brunei). How does the government make this decision on one hand but leave us with no choices when going in the other direction? Here is how the minister (Warren Truss) justifies this

"The economic modelling work [on the Pacific Route] that we have done suggests that the benefits of an airline such as Singapore entering that route would be very, very small to the Australian tourism industry,"

Must be the first time in history that a conservative government economic model showed that more competition would have no positive impact. Presumably Truss clutches his chairman’s club membership and hopes no one notices the inconsistency.

Without competition Qantas take me for granted. For example they announced with much fan-fair and mutual back-slapping that the new Qantas in-flight entertainment would be launched. This would be a revolution – they proclaimed – as Qantas would be offering video and audio on demand. Let put aside that Cathay, Singapore and many others have offered this for years. Instead I am going to focus on the fact that this new service – NEVER WORKS. I have flown 4 long haul sectors with Qantas since the announcement and on each sector the service has failed to work. The program works something like this - flight reaches cruising, staff turn the system on, over the next hour everyone on the plane selects a movie, this crashes system, staff reboot system, over the next hour everyone selects a movie, this crashes system, staff switch off system. Four times this has happened. Took me 4 hours to Syriana – which given how complicated the plot is made it is impossible to follow. On this current trip they have just given up on this leg and retuned to the old entertainment system that forces you to survive the long sector in two and half hour blocks with movies starting at random times.

If Singapore flew the Pacific route it would bring prices down, service up and maybe convince Qantas to install an entertainment system that works, employ staff that smile, serve meals within 3 hours of take off and stock magazines put out after the Labor government lost power. And the punch-line – I get of this flight and have to connect on an American Airlines flight.


Sneaky Xen said...

Try Air New Zealand Bro its CHOICCCCCCE

Anonymous said...

so you must be happy hearing that virgin blue wants to go long-haul by year end then...what does it mean for Qantas?

Tim Hughes said...

I like the idea of Virgin Blue joining the route - but will not be truly happy until a high end business class operator like Singapore or Emirates gets access ad I doubt the Virgin Blue product will apply enough pressure to Qantas to improve.