Jul 1, 2009

Angry Flyers Lounge-Jetstar’s New Zealand offensive

All the carrier has to do now to cap it off is to affix murals showing the underarm bowling incident

Ben Sandilands — Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands

Editor of Plane Talking

Jetstar’s entry into the NZ domestic market has so far been three weeks of picking fights with its customers.

Jetstar NZ meets yoof market in the Twitterverse as posted on Whale Oil@whaleoil.co.nz
Jetstar NZ meets yoof market in the Twitterverse as posted on Whale [email protected]

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.

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4 thoughts on “Angry Flyers Lounge-Jetstar’s New Zealand offensive

  1. Santo Calabrese

    If jetstar considers a skateboard a security risk I was amazed on landing in Brisbane in January on a Virgin flight to see a fellow passenger pull a collapsible metal camera tripod out of the overhead locker. Still, as long as they confiscate all the nail clippers we’re safe.

  2. spacedog

    I suspect that some of the rules around what is safe and what is not safe are made up on the spot by individual security staff who get off on exercising power over hapless travellers.

  3. plawso1

    I wonder if any Jetstar ex-employees would be willing to publish the internal email directory.Then at least we would be able to keep them informed about their sh*t house services and their arrogant attitude towards customers.

    When they staffed up Jetstar I assume they just selected Qantas employees with bad attitude.

  4. blasto

    Sure, a skateboard doesn’t seem to most sensible people to pose a security risk, but the 30 min check in limit is certainly reasonable, and similarly enforced by numerous efficient airlines all round the world – (experience, not speculation). Just as if everyone was 4 min late (re the Tiger show), if at a backwater airport, everyone checks in @ 30 min before a flight, no amount of extra staffing, or reasoning with tardy passenegers will cope.

    Using common sense, one would allow at least an hour. This is allowing for the fact 30 min is the minimum they need to process everyone on the plane, and keep them all on time, particularly the ones who took the time to get there early to ensure their connections etc.

    Not rocket science, just another reason for NZ patrons to colloquially put another Australian airline in the “basketcase” without any good grounds whatsoever. I wonder how late ANZ will allow one to check in, and whether they allow sk8ters with any gear they like on board. Methinks this hasn’t been either tested, or reported upon in the NZ press, because it’s a NZ airline. Basically any Australian enterprise in NZ is facing invisible hurdles before it’s even implemented…..

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