Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Qantas. Why do you insult us so?

Qantas is failing Adelaide?
Tourism Commission chief Andrew McEvoy is right. Good on him for sounding off.
It is time Qantas was held to account. But perhaps Mr McEvoy has not gone far enough.
Perhaps Qantas is failing Australia.
It is not just that it is not putting Adelaide on its flight paths. It is that the national carrier has turned into the worst of all aerial cattle trucks. It insults its passengers –we good people who pay its bills and keep it aloft.

It packs us in mercilessly with never a seat to spare – and, worse, with less leg room than one finds elsewhere. Mean, nasty skimpy 31inch seat pitch which means that the moment the person in front reclines, one is pinned in. Trapped. Don’t even think about crossing your knees.

It is a sickening irony that Qantas plays inflight DVT (deep vein thrombosis) exercise videos to passengers who can’t move a muscle. Unless they are in Business or First, of course.

Don’t believe what you hear projected by the marketing spin doctors and travel writers. They all travel Business. They have no idea what hell we real people go through. Of course the executives will be screaming with indignation and saying that I am absolutely wrong in my descriptions. But this is my opinion and not theirs. My experience and not theirs. I’ve done the hard yards - a decade of trans-Pacific flights in Qantas economy. I have watched conditions worsening year by year, fewer cabin crew working harder, tempers fraying. Less oxygen, too, perhaps. I always seem to get sick after one of these flights.

The other trick Qantas has learned is to deny its passengers choice in seat allocation.

There is a mystery to this procedure now. Apparently only uber-platinum frequent flyers can get a decent seat allocation.
The rest of us can consider ourselves lucky if we even get to sit with our travelling companions.

No blame to the staff, poor darlings. It is not their fault they deliver the bad news. And, however frustrated, we passengers must never take it out on them.

Nonetheless, I am regularly dumped at the very back of the plane by the check in staff. It does not matter how many months earlier I have booked or how early I arrive at the airport. The seating hell is the same. Hateful. I have ended up feeling very demoralised because over and over again, I have been denied the one simple request I make – a window seat, please.

What has happened to Qantas’s ability to perform civilized seat allocations? What has happened to our once-cherished, national pride airline?

This year I baulked and flew United where, at least, one has an option for Economy Plus seating which provides a dignity of leg room but, otherwise, conventional economy conditions. Yes, they actually let you choose seating when you book. And, that bit of extra leg room is all one wants on the long hauls. Ahh.

United, however, gives lots more. It is a very pleasant airline, albeit they tell me it has been in a financial crisis for years.

I used to be so proud of Qantas.
It was a symbol of my beloved country, my laid-back and friendly fellow countrymen, our high standards and good quality of life...
The flying kangaroo used to warm the old heart wherever one saw it.
Now, I apologise for Qantas to my international friends. How embarrassing.

Qantas has retained the best safety record, which remains a significant point of pride – but it has cheapened itself with the worst economy cabin conditions and ever-declining passenger service.

So I was not surprised, on an Internet airlines standards page, to read:
Qantas' A330s "make the live sheep boats to the Middle East look positively luxurious (the boats have more room, fewer travellers and more interesting conversation).”

It is downright sad - not just for the airline but for all Australians on whom it reflects.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Bruce Hawker - Labor's man of the soak cycle

The politicians, now vying for leadership of Australia, tell us that our broadband services cost nine times as much as that of the rest of the world and are 35 times slower. Labor candidate Kevin Rudd promises to amend this and to bring this nation up to speed, literally. Give or take five or so years to do it.
John Howard says Rudd is out of date and we've suddenly gone high speed.
You could have fooled me.

This country is disadvantaged by its small population and large areas in issues such as the Internet. However, it really can't brag.
It has been slow to clue up from the word go - treating the Internet with absurd suspicion, unwilling to accept its global potency.
Right now there is a spin doctor called Bruce Hawker who is out there telling the country that "the internet is very much in its infancy"! The only value of YouTube and viral communications is that the mainstream media picks it up.
Where has he been?

How embarrassing for a man to tout himself as a political strategist and be so painfully out of touch.
It has taken a long time for the mainstream media to clue up to the vast interactive population on the Internet. I know. I have tried to jog mainstream media for years and years - finding that they were only interested in stories which made the Internet into some sort of evil bogeyman.
This, of course, because mainstream media was frightened of the Internet. To its interests, the Internet was a bogeyman - a growing rival for consumer attention.
And so the scare stories revved up over the years and there was never anything positive to be said about the Internet.
And the real estate world moved online.
And the travel world moved online.
The marketplace was not as slow as the mainstream media. To hell with the bogeyman. It saw the consumers online en masse.
Financial institutions went online...everything has followed the people out into their anarchical virtual world of free speech.
Finally, the mainstream media realised that it had to bite the bullet, albeit reluctantly, and compete for an online market. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

So now the only person who seems to think the Internet is some sort of newly-spawned amateur hour is one Bruce Hawker.
Spin doctor? I don't think so. Soak Cycle is more like it.
Let me tell you Mr Hawker, the mainstream media picks up YouTube and blogs and internet activities because they are news. If the mainstream want to stay up with what is happening, it has to go online and be online. You could have called the Internet an infant a decade ago. But to do so in 2007 just shows how painfully out of touch you are.

God help Labor for employing you as an advisor.

Oh dear.