Another one for those that follow my travel postings: In a recent post, and a prior post, I noted some of the issues I’ve been having with QANTAS flights recently. In the latest one, I mentioned I was heading off to Singapore for the week last week and wasn’t looking forward to the QANTAS flights. Well, the photo below pretty much sums up the experience for the week.
Yes, that’s the engine of our plane opened up on the tarmac at Changi Airport late at night, after we should have been half way to Melbourne.
The flight over left a bit late but arrived early. I’m not sure if anyone at QANTAS read my comments about the customer service officers no longer coming down to find the Platinum members buried in ecomony to say hi (like they did until a few months back) but on the trip over, I had two of them come and say hi. That was an interesting change. The flight over would have been fine except I had intended to catch up some reading. Sadly, the overhead electrical systems in the entire section of the plane that I was in were not working. That means no reading lights, warning lights, etc. I asked a flight attendant about it and he told me that it was somehow also related to the infernal entertainment systems. Apart from that, the flight was reasonable, arrived early and my bags also arrived.
The flight back was another matter. We were meant to leave Changi at 7:45pm on Sunday. We ended up leaving just after 8pm, so I thought we were off to a reasonable start. The customer service officer also came down to say hi so it looks like that practice might have been reinstigated. At takeoff, there was a very large vibration, much moreso than other jumbos I’ve ever been on. I didn’t think too much of it as I’m always amazed that jumbos can take off at all. However, about half an hour into the flight, the captain came on the PA to tell us that we’d lost an electrical generator. He said we’re allowed to fly with one broken but flying with two broken wasn’t considered safe. The bad news was that we already had another one broken, so that made two now dead. We would have to return to Singapore. We flew around for about another half hour dumping fuel (as we were way over allowed landing weight) and then flew back to Singapore. So, an hour and a half after we left Singapore, we were back.
After a while sitting in the plane while the engineers made basic checks, the captain then apologised and said we’d all need to get off. The customer service folk said “good news, we’ve organised dinner for you”. So we all traipsed off through the airport up to the food court. It was all quite unpleasant. We stood in a queue for about 40 minutes. QANTAS had arranged for $25 vouchers for each of the passengers for dinner but only three of the restaurants in the food court could be used. While the restaurants did a better job than I could if 300 – 400 people dropped in for dinner at my place at 11pm at night, they struggled big-time. By the time we got to the front of the non-moving queue, the food had pretty much run out and the noodle place was doing the best it could, which wasn’t great. It’s no surprise that you can’t take dry noodles, dip them in boiling water for 20 to 30 seconds and then serve them without them tasting like sticky, uncooked noodles, which is what they were. They were completely ghastly. The voucher guys must have made a killing too because the noodles we had were priced at $8.60 and none of us could be bothered standing in the desert/cake/drink queue once we’d stood in the noodle queue for so long. I’ll bet QANTAS still got billed $25 per head.
Once we got back to the gate area and went through security/scanning again (we had been told to be back in an hour), we then sat and watched them trying to fix the generator, as per the picture above. The whole time we were there, I was thinking about it and realising that when the flight arrived in from London and had a few hours before we boarded, the generator that was already broken could have been fixed and we wouldn’t have been in that predicament. I’m sure QANTAS were just expecting to fly it home with the broken one and fix it at home base. In hindsight, the marginal cost that would have been incurred in having it fixed before we left must pale into insignificance with the costs that were then encountered. I can’t imagine what it cost for the load of fuel that we dumped, the extra terminal fees, the dinner costs for 315 people, etc. but I can imagine how hundreds of people then had their lives impacted by this decision and no-doubt, cost-cutting exercise.
So, our flight that was meant to get in at 4:45am ended up landing at 9:30am.
The seat preallocation system is still loopy. Even though I have “rear aisle” set up as a preference, I was allocated 49G, directly over-wing but at least aisle. I checked beforehand to make sure I wasn’t in a row behind a bulk-head row as I didn’t want to have another trip like the last one. Even though I’d done all that, when my boarding pass was scanned just prior to boarding, the staff told me “sorry but we had to move you to 48G to let a family of four sit together”. So, you guessed it, even though I did everything I could to avoid it, I ended up in the row behind a bulk-head row again, with all the issues with lack of foot space, etc. Even though I would have agreed to moving to let a family be together, it would have really been nice to have been asked if it was ok -> sigh <-
The other benefit of frequent flyer membership is meant to be preferential baggage treatment. Again, even though we went through the premium checkin in Changi and had first class tags on our bags, they came off the conveyor pretty much with the last of the bags from the flight. That of course maximises the time we got to spend in the quarantine queue. This also seems to be a regular occurrence now. It’s another aspect of the program that used to work ok until about six months ago.
I’ve got 3 or 4 flights with QANTAS next week but they’re just domestic so hopefully less painful. However, they’re all at night so I’d place the odds of them leaving on time at near zero. I can’t wait.
I’ve got some more international flights with QANTAS coming up soon. I really hope I can report something positive.