Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Qantas Entertainment - a Very Obvious Defect (VOD)

I have already bored/amused you with my stories on how bad the roll out and performance of the new Qantas VOD/entertainment system has been (they are calling it simply "Q"). As a quick reminder, Qantas launched a new VOD system about a year ago claiming that it was a revolution in airline entertainment. Never mind that the system as described was at best on par with that offered by Cathay Pacific and Singapore but realistically still behind the great offerings from those airlines, the real issue was that the system never worked. It crashed on every flight I was on within an hour of launch. My experience was by no means isolated as similar stories were retold by other flyers in Qantas Clubs around the globe.

I am used to Qantas management being immune to the complaints and comments of its customers. Now however there is news from the Qantas cabin crew that they are suffering significant abuse from customers due the constant failures of the system. The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that this is resulting in stress related issues and physical illness. As a result on Jan 19 the cabin crew association wrote to management to alert them of the constant abuse and failures. Here is the response in the article from the manager in charge David Cox (E-GM of Engineering)

"As with any complex system there have been some technical issues,...The problems usually involve a small number of seats and the passenger can be moved to a different seat in these cases. We are dedicating considerable resources to address these reliability issues, including through the supplier Rockwell Collins."

In other words - this is not a big problem, if you don't like it move seats and it is the suppliers mistake not ours. Shame on you Mr Cox and shame on you Qantas. Your customers are telling you the system is busted, your staff are telling you the system is busted and the best solution you can come up with is moving seats. This is completely useless advice for two reasons. Firstly the flights I have been on the VOD system has been broken in whole sections, if not the whole plane. Secondly, I mainly fly Qantas to the US and UK. These are very busy (or monopoly routes) and I cannot remember the last time I was on a plane with spare seat. In fact I spend half my time on wait-lists in effect begging to get on a flight. My suggestion to Qantas is to can the useless, head in the sand advice and over-haul the system.

My second piece of advice is that if Qantas does not believe me that this is an issue for their customers then here is a quick test that David Cox and his team can try - dress in business casual, grab an on cabin bag and head for the nearest Qantas lounge. In the lounge blend in by grabbing a drink, sit next to the nearest bunch of flyers and start a conversation about in-air entertainment. My bet is that this will be the first time Qantas has solicited the feedback of its top flyers and I am confident the results will be along these lines "the system is crap, it never works, the Cathay and Singapore systems are better but I have to fly Qantas anyway because they dominate the routes I need to fly".


Anonymous said...

Hi, why am I not surprised? Are you?

Tim Hughes said...

not at all

Anonymous said...

QANTAS will today hold a crisis
meeting to address its troubled inflight
entertainment system.
The meeting was instigated by the
Flight Attendants Association after
it lodged a formal complaint on
behalf of cabin crew who were
exhibiting “stress related problems”
caused by aggressive passengers
following breakdowns in the
entertainment system.
The problem is affecting 27
aircraft in QF’s Boeing 747-400
fleet and 10 Airbus A330-300
planes’ audio and video on demand
systems, said to be leaving pax
without movies, music and other
entertainment for extended periods.
The meeting between Qantas
managers and aircrew will attempt
to address the problem but the
airline said it isn’t considering
replacing the system, and confirmed
it had a dedicated team attempting
to rectify the problem.
Source: Traveldaily

Tim Hughes said...

Should any of us give them the benefit of the doubt- OR - do we say too little too late?