Angry Flyers Lounge-Jetstar’s New Zealand offensive
Jetstar’s entry into the NZ domestic market has so far been three weeks of picking fights with its customers.
All the carrier has to do now to cap it off is to affix murals showing the underarm bowling incident to the cabin bulkheads.
In the most recent reaction to the ill-will it has generated, Jetstar is proposing a campaign of ‘public eduction’ on the use of the low cost carriers, according no doubt to the Jetstar concept of very cheap, but also tricky, rude, unaccountable and chronically unreliable.
Will the public education of Kiwis be voluntary or compulsory? You would have to wonder after spokesperson Simon Westaway was quoted by NZ media as blaming it mainly on the media and the airline’s customers.
Which is a reminder of rule Number 1 of the Jetstar model, which is that the customer is always wrong.
New Zealanders have not taken well to 30 minute minimum check-in cut offs, no ‘ifs’ or ‘buts’. Nor to widespread allegations that people can be stuck in an inefficiently processed Jetstar queue for up to half an hour before the cut off time, only to be cut off and told its all their own fault.
Which raises the rule Number 2 of the Jetstar version of low cost customer disciplinary techniques which is that it decides when 30 minutes is 30 minutes, even if its 35 minutes. And it shuts down the electronic kiosk check ins at the same time, just to lock the customer well and truly out of the flight.
Westaway has been giving interviews in NZ explaining that the 30 minute cut off rule is there to ensure flights depart on time.
Well, it isn’t working. At least half of its flights have been running over an hour late, which in a country which measures about 8 minutes wide by 80 minutes long in a jet is very, very late.
So, rule Number 3 is that Jetstar can be as late as it bloody well likes, a trick it learned from parent Qantas.
Australian travellers have already been there for the five years Jetstar has performed admirably as the carrier that drives them to Virgin Blue.
NZ’s Pacific Blue could just be so lucky. In fact it has been. The media has been full of accounts of people stranded or cut off by Jetstar who have gone across to Pacific Blue, which usually costs more than Jetstar but less than Air NZ.
One of them was the Prime Minister John Key, who was on a Jetstar flight that couldn’t depart from Queenstown in fog.
Air NZ, which came to the ‘rescue’ has jets equipped with a precision navigational system that allows flights to use the tricky airport in poor visibility, which Jetstar’s A320s haven’t been equipped with.
What Jetstar was thinking when it made Queenstown a key part of its early network without this landing system is anyone’s guess. But it cripples its network whenever Queenstown is socked in .
New Zealand is going to be a good test of whether a low fare airline being confrontational in a small market where the distances are short and the alternatives on Air NZ and Pacific Blue are many will work.
Maybe it will switch to a charm offensive.