Some questions that go to the heart of the nature and value of the Qantas ‘loyalty’ program were raised last Monday with Plane Talking.
No response has been made by Qantas, but the loyalty program member has provided us with the email record, mainly between himself and the office of the Qantas group executive operations, Lyell Strambi.
In this Strambi appears incapable of dealing with the critical issue, which is the need to explain why something which purports to be a reward, should cost more than real deal, and we are not discussing the idiocy of people spending tens of thousands of dollars on overpriced groceries to get a ‘free’ ticket for a flight than can be bought by the disloyal but price sensitive consumer for less than $100 anyhow!
We are talking about spending money with Qantas to turn loyalty into travel, and being charged more than Jetstar wanted, because it makes the loyalty program look like a deliberate exercise in exploitation.
It needs to be explained.
From me to QF FF Customer Care (15 June)
I am interested in flying (with my wife) from Darwin to Denpasar and return in October. When I looked into using an award booking, the total Charges and Taxes were shown as $760.84. For the same (Jetstar) flight, the same two seats, including a baggage charge, were $494.00. I called the Qantas Club to see if I could get an explanation of this apparent anomaly and was told it might be something to do with the QF Fuel Surcharge, however, this seems an inadequate explanation given the need for JetStar to also cover its fuel costs. Two possible – and unsavoury – explanations are that Qantas is (a) ripping off its Frequent Flyers and, (b) subsidising JetStar. I’m sure there are other explanations and would appreciate hearing from you on this matter.
Response from QF (22 June)
Dear (loyal but puzzled member),
Thank you for contacting The Qantas Club and Frequent Flyer Service Centre.
To resolve your query about booking taxes and charges, please contact Qantas Telephone Sales. I note that you’ve already done so,
however, as we can’t give you any information in this regard you’ll need to contact Telephone Sales for further advice.
You’ll find your local number by visiting qantas.com/contacts
To find out more about earning and using points, please visit qantas.com/frequentflyer where you’ll also find details of your
membership benefits, along with our latest news and offers.
(signed) The Qantas Club and Frequent Flyer Service Centre
From me to Lyell Strambi (27 June)
I am forwarding you a response I received from the FF Service Centre after I emailed an enquiry to them – on the advice of a person from that Centre whom I had spoken to on the telephone. I have to say that I was rather taken aback by the evident lack of concern for finding an answer to my query which the response demonstrated.
I thought that recommending I put my request in writing was a reasonable response by the person I spoke to, as I did not expect people in those roles to have a detailed understanding of pricing policy. For the same reason, I believe that I would be wasting my time talking to someone at Telephone Sales. I would therefore be grateful if you could arrange for someone to provide me with an explanation of the apparent anomaly.
thanks and regards
(loyal but puzzled member)
From ******* (in Strambi’s office) on 30 June
Dear (loyal but puzzled member)
Thank you for your email to Mr Lyell Strambi. I work in a dedicated team responsible for managing customer communication for Mr Strambi and have been asked to respond to you personally.
I would like to acknowledge receipt of your email, and let you know that I will be investigating your concerns and will be in contact with you
******* Executive Relations Adviser
Qantas Airways Ltd
and again from ******** on 1 July
Dear ( loyal but puzzled member)
Thank you for getting in touch with us about your concerns with the
different amounts on the total Charges and Taxes that Qantas and Jetstar have.
Firstly, I apologise that our reservations staff did not help you with
their response. I’ve spoken to our Reservations Manager who will in turn address the matter with the relevant staff member.
Qantas have increased international fuel surcharges as a further response to continuing rises in oil and jet fuel prices. Domestic, Regional and Tasman fares will also increase by five percent and a fuel surcharge will be added to Domestic and Tasman Qantas Frequent Flyer Classic Award redemption seats.
As your quote is for a Classic Award booking between Darwin to Denpasar the Qantas Fuel Surcharge of AUD$145.00 per sector is the reason behind the high amount of taxes, compared to Jetstars amounts.
I appreciate your disappointment and I regret that I am unable to provide you with a different answer. However, I have forwarded your comments to the relevant line Management so they can be included in future reviews of this procedure.
Thank you again for taking the time to pursue this matter. Your support of Qantas is valued and I hope we may be of service to you in the future.
Qantas Airways Ltd
From me to ******** (2 July)
Thank you for your response to my email to Mr Strambi and your explanation of the action that will be taken regarding the inadequacy of the initial response which I received.
The explanation you provided regarding the anomaly with the costs was less satisfactory, though perhaps that was because I did not explain the issue clearly enough.
The issue which I find anomalous is not a comparison between the taxes between the two airlines. It is that for the same seat on the same aircraft (the QF award is for a seat on a codeshare flight with Jetstar, on a Jetstar aircraft), Jetstar offered two seats on a commercial basis for $260 less than Qantas were offering award seats, that is, with no cost levied for the basic travel charge.
You state that the QF fuel surcharge is $145 per sector – a total of $290 for the two tickets in which I was interested. This means that other charges – such as landing fees – must have been $470 (the total award price was $760). But if these other charges, which must be the same for Jetstar – are $470, how can they offer tickets for $494? $24 to cover all their operational costs, including fuel, for which Qantas has a surcharge alone of $290?
These calculations suggest that Qantas Frequent Flyers are being substantially overcharged for their award tickets. Whether the amounts involved are transferred to Jetstar, so subsidising its costs, or retained within Qantas, it seems a very unsatisfactory arrangement. As a very loyal Qantas customer for many years (a Lifetime Gold member), I am very disappointed that I have not received a credible explanation for the discrepancy which I brought to your attention. Rather than having my comments forwarded to the relevant line management for inclusion in their future reviews, could I suggest that you ask the appropriate line managers to provide you with an explanation that could be passed on to me?
I will look forward to hearing further from you – or someone else who can provide the information which I am requesting.
(loyal but puzzled member)