LONDON – Australian national flag carrier Qantas has topped the CHOICE Magazine ‘2022 Shonky Awards’ List for its poor service levels. The announcement today is perhaps the icing on the cake for Qantas, after what has been something of a horror year for the airline.
Arguably, many airlines have had a rocky road in the post-pandemic period – struggling with low staffing levels and the logistics of restoring operations after a two-year long hiatus.
The post-pandemic wash-up has been particularly damning for Qantas though, with the ugly public exposure of what has appeared to be a developing culture of poor customer and staff relations.
CEO Alan Joyce has had his share of accusations levelled against him, and did little to endear himself to airline patrons when he all but blamed them for delays and problems, saying people were not “match fit” for travel after the long pandemic layoff.
Joyce formally apologised to customers for the airline’s poor performance in August this year. He went on to blame high levels of sick leave and an industry-wide labour shortage, for baggage mishandling issues and poor on-time performance and flight cancellations.
The ‘Spirit of Disappointment’
CHOICE have been quite damning of the airline’s performance; dubbing Qantas the ‘Spirit of Disappointment’ in their statement, saying:
“The so-called Spirit of Australia, which has been a part of the national fabric for more than 100 years, has been a disappointment to customers since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020.”
“Qantas has always sold itself as the premium Australian domestic airline, and Australians have been very proud of Qantas as a premium airline,” says CHOICE money and travel expert Jodi Bird. “But what we’ve seen recently is Qantas taken down to the level of a budget airline.”
The consumer watchdog CHOICE goes on to reveal that Qantas was the most complained-about company by its readers and members in 2022.
The magazine points to factors of “delayed flights, tales of lost baggage and chaos at airports, and customer difficulties in using credits accumulated from travel cancellations during COVID lockdowns and restrictions” as primary drivers of consumer concerns with the airline.
A further factor which CHOICE cites is the excessive call waiting times that patrons have been subjected to, which have often reportedly extended to 50 minutes.
“The travel chaos at airports and cases of lost baggage have been well documented,” CHOICE goes on to state.
“They had the worst rates for flight delays, and their baggage handling has really been poor in the last year. People are still paying premium prices, but not getting premium service.”
Throwing peanuts at their customers
On the issue of extended wait times and the subsequent build-up of customer frustration, the magazine observes: “We think throwing peanuts at their customers is still not good enough when the airline continues to let them down.”
For many Aussies, the decline and fall from grace of their national flag carrier comes as a huge disappointment. Not because they want to take the carrier down – quite the opposite.
Rather, for many it comes as a frustrated sadness for the apparent loss of what has always been a loved and respected national icon. the full rundown of CHOICE’s finding on the airline can be found here.