Let’s not fly Jetstar

If you want to know how to complain to Jetstar (because their website doesn’t make it obvious) you need to mail your letter of complaint to:

Jetstar Customer Care
GPO Box 635
SUNSHINE VIC 3020

Jetstar’s customer care manager is currently Michael Mirabito.

Here’s the letter I am posting tomorrow.

Dear Jetstar,

Allow me to introduce myself. I am passenger number #Z4RC9S from JQ906 on Monday the 14th of December. You might recognise that date. It was the day your booking software crashed nationwide, causing delays of up to 90 minutes throughout your network.

I mention the date, and acknowledge the troubles your network experienced, because you might be tempted to use this circumstance as a mitigating factor with regards to my complaint. It is not an excuse, and I am not complaining about the lateness of my flights.

I have flown the competitive Townsville to Brisbane route a number of times over the last four years. On a number of these occasions I have flown with Jetstar. Many of my friends refuse to fly Jetstar. After yesterday I can understand why.

Let me tell you my story. I’ll narrate it like an objective observer in third person.

Passenger #Z4RC9S and his wife were in the car driving to the airport when they heard a radio report that Jetstar’s flights around Australia had been delayed because of a software malfunction. The passengers thought that this was completely understandable. Computers are unreliable. Airlines get delayed. This was not a major problem. An inconvenience yes. But worth complaining about? No.

The passengers entered the airport and approached the line for the check-in desk. They had not checked in online. Passenger #Z4RC9S is quite tall (around 195cm or 6’3’’ in the old measure). Passenger #Z4RC9S wanted to see if an exit row might be available. The unhelpful, rude, and abrupt lady manning the check in line informed Passenger #Z4RC9S that he and his wife must check in at the machine first. They had arrived 45 minutes before the original departure time for the flight. This was no problem. If it is the policy (which seems to contain inherent double handling and seems to waste more precious time on behalf of the passenger).

Here is another gripe – why are the queuing lanes kept unnecessarily and artificially long during off peak times when there is a gatekeeper ensuring that only passengers on particular flights are lining up. This is a waste of time.

The Passenger and his wife made their way to the counter to request an exit row. Where they met a second unhelpful, rude and abrupt Jetstar employee. This employee did not look up from her desk, did not acknowledge the request past a curt dismissal, and made no attempt at rudimentary customer service. When Passenger #Z4RC9S requested an exit row on the flight she informed him that there were none available. Without looking at the computer. Without even taking a moment to provide an iota of effort to meet the needs of the customer.

When the passengers entered the plane carrying their hand luggage (four bulky items and one purse) they were rudely informed that hand luggage policies dictate four items only. When did a small handbag become hand luggage? It is not overhead luggage. It is a purse. The information, at this stage of the journey, was entirely irrelevant and delivered in a sneering, and rude, manner.

When the passengers finally embarked and were seated in their seats – in row 15 (one seat behind the exit rows) and the doors were closing – they noticed five available exit seats (out of 12). Five out of twelve?

The unhelpful flight attendant then picked other passengers from the row behind the Passenger #Z4RC9S as if to add insult to injury.

I can understand that stress levels may have been high due to the delay – but it is on these occasions that your staff should be rising to new heights of customer service – not sinking to new lows. Every interaction we had with staff on that fateful morning was negative. This was poor beyond description.

Bad customer service will cost you customers in the long run.

I’ve introduced myself by my number because it’s clear that Jetstar’s customer service policy is to view travellers as cattle rather than as people. Perhaps, in order for my message to be clearer, I should refer to myself as $119. That’s what my flight cost. On a conservative estimate based on my flying patterns over the last three years, and assuming I live to the age of 80, the loss of my six potential flights with you per year at an average cost of $119, will cost you $39,000 directly. Double that because I’m married and fly with my wife. That’s $78,000 in lost bookings over my lifetime. Sure, you’ll find some other schmuck to fill my seat with… but the indirect impact has the potential to be far greater.

Let me give you a little more background about myself – and why you should care about me, and indeed about all of your passengers. I work in PR in the tourism industry – hosting travel writers and dealing daily with members of the media. We talk about airlines and horror stories all the time. But I am not special. One thing I know from my role in PR is that bad news travels fast. This is why you should care about your passengers.

I have 658 friends on Facebook. Many of them are journalists. Many of them travel regularly. Today, after yesterday’s experience, my status reads “will never fly Jetstar again”. I will also post this complaint letter on my blog. It’s not a big blog. But it gets between 500 and 600 unique visitors a week. It will no doubt get lots of hits from people searching for similar tales of airline woes in coming years. It will be a small black mark against your name in cyberspace – where there are many similar small black marks against your name. At some stage, Jetstar, you will need to do something about this.

Here’s the thing Jetstar – word of mouth matters. And because of my experience yesterday, and the shared experience of many other passengers, you are suffering. If I convince just fifteen friends and family members who fly as regularly as I do not to fly with you on the Brisbane to Townsville route (let alone all the other routes they might fly) the cost, using the same figures as above, will be over $1,000,000. Just because your staff are rudely incompetent.

This is clearly not an isolated incident – as I was writing this letter I read a story featured on the SMH website about poor customer service on the Sydney to Gold Coast route. This habitual interpersonal incompetence will cost you money.

Sure, you have cheap flights. You’ll always have that corner of the market. Those who can’t afford to be discerning. But you’ll never be the airline that has people saying “if I won the lotto tomorrow I’d still fly Jetstar”. The bottom of the market probably won’t grow. Especially with the economy improving.

Regards,

Nathan Campbell

19 Comments Let’s not fly Jetstar

  1. queenstuss

    I think I've probably flown Jetstar 5 times in the last five or so years since they have been flying out of Townsville. In that time I would estimate 25 domestic flights. My very first experience was having the flight time shifted twice, and then the flight delayed, so we ended up at our destination seven hours late. My second experience also involved the flight time being shifted, and then being delayed.

    My last two flights were $49 each, which is the only way I will fly Jetstar. It has to be very, very cheap compared toVirgin.

    And, for the record, I sent a complaint once to Virgin – it wasn't hard and I got a prompt and reasonable response.

  2. skermo

    i had a flight canceled from avalon, and had to find my own way from avalon all the way to tullamarine (incorrect spelling i think) in peak hour Melbourne traffic and nearly missed the qantas flight that i was able to transfer to at the last minute. but after talking to people down there apparently they do it often. if the plane does not have the required number of people on it, it doesnt fly. but the price of the fares always keeps poeple buying tickets.

    i also have had couple of 'good' jetstar experiences, but the one frustrating experience undid all there good work.

  3. Lisa

    All of my Jetstar experiences haven't been bad… but there have been enough bad ones to make me refuse to fly Jetstar anymore. Virgin beats them hands down in customer service, friendliness and making customers feel valued. Additionaly, the Jetstar planes (when the flights haven't been cancelled) always seem to make this really loud rattling noise. The cabin actually shakes. And then occaionally the loud motor noise that can be heard goes silent.

    In a way this can be seen as a positive, as when I fly Jetstar I spend a lot more time praying and talking with God. This is primarily because I feel like I will possibly die on their flights.

    Nathan: You might want to change "tails of airline woes" to "tales of airline woe" Also you might want to change the full stop between "this was no problem" and "If it is policy" – it flows better that way. Other than me being a grammer policewoman (just because I want you to put your best foot forward when complaining to Jetstar) well summarised and well justified.

  4. Leah

    Good letter, except for the complaint re: the handbag. Since when have handbags NOT been hand luggage? It's luggage you carry on with you, which is the definition of carry-on luggage. A lot of people don't put their carry-on luggage in the overhead compartments, that's got nothing to do with whether it's classified as hand luggage or not.

  5. Vernon

    Hey Nathan! Interesting blog. Sorry to hear about your experience. I have had no problems with Jetstar – but then again, I don't fly that often. Just a quick (technical) remark: the "Z4RC9S" is not your passenger number, but it is the 'record locator' for your itinerary, i.e. in the airline booking system, the code 'Z4RC9S' allows the airline to identify your reservation, regardless of the number of passengers in that reservation. Thus, saying that you were passenger Z4RC9S is a bit inaccurate. You could say you were one of the passengers on that flight under the record locator Z4RC9S.

    In any case, once you have completed your journey, the airline booking system will remove your itinerary from its database and will recycle the alphanumberical code for other itinerary of some other passenger(s). Therefore, it may be unretrievable after a couple of hours following the completion of your journey. Hence, in future complaints, it is better to identify yourself with your full name, frequent flyer number (if you have one), and date/flight number.

    1. Nathan

      Hi Vernon,

      On the boarding pass the booking reference number is listed as the passenger reference number. I used it mainly for dramatic effect. My point was that Jetstar think of their passengers as numbers, not people.

      Your point about the numbers being recycled is slightly inaccurate – they keep them on file in relation to particular routes and flights. They would be stupid to throw away any data about any passengers. Virgin, for example, use the booking number and flight route to allow you to claim velocity points up to three months after your flight.

  6. Aaran

    Suck it up ya sook! The only reason jet star can offer $119 flights is by flogging their staff and skimping on resources. Put the shoe on the other foot and imagine how the staff were feeling. Pushed to deliver more with less a systems crash was inevitable. Suddenly they are faced with an army of scrooges who think they should be treated with the royalty of the Queen and the urgency of the president’s heart surgeon. Wave after wave of emotional pollution from angry passengers venting their spleens at them, it’s no wonder they were avoiding human interaction. Avoiding eye contact or engaging in conversation, lest they be set upon and verbally assaulted. You should have stepped up and been loving and graceful. Had you engaged them with a warm smile and made light of their circumstances with a warm joke they probably would have upgraded you to business class.

  7. Pingback: How I write complaint letters - St. Eutychus

  8. Lil

    Hi All –

    Am on line waiting for a JS supervisor to take my call.

    Can you believe this. On the 27th Dec 09 we thought we had purchased 3 flights to Japan. JS took the money, but we didn't receive flight confirmation. We then thought to call JS to find out what was happening. They said our initial monies were withdrawn but due to some sort of malfuntion the tkts were not issued. The JS person said not to worry the money they took from our bank account would be refunded in 2 hours and to go ahead and book again which we did. (This left us $3k+ out of pocket)
    Today is the 31st of Dec 09. Upon checking our bank details…surprise surprise… NO REFUND from JS. OK… another call… only to be told " our system is set up so that you will have to wait 6WEEKS…!!!" WTPHUK???
    Update: A supervisor would not come to the phone because I was not the one who made the booking, even though the monies they snatched came out of our joint bank account.

    Howz that for daylight robbery. How did 2 hours turn into 6 weeks…!!! Couldn't care less if we were in dire need of the money. It prolly took 2 secs to grab the money. Now they want to make money from our money and give it back in 6 weeks…. Dodgey…. as…!!

    Anyone know a government dept I can register a complaint with????

    JS sucks.

  9. Nathan

    Hi Lil,

    That is dreadful. I don't know which government department would be the best to go with – I'll dig some up and post them here for others…

    I do know that if you email Michael Mirabito directly you get a pretty prompt response (in my case it was $200 in vouchers). Jetstar email addresses are firstname.surname@jetstar.com.

  10. nicky

    hi Nathan
    very interesting – and i had only just worked out the jetstar email address format after a couple of weeks of getting nowhere, good to see you offer it up. how about Qantas?
    thx!!

    1. Nathan

      Hi Nicky,

      I've got nothing for Qantas – though I suspect if you managed to track down one Qantas address they would all follow the same form.

  11. Steve

    Hi Nathan, did you end up hearing back from Jetstar? I've had similar terrible experiences recently – with Apple (which surprised me), and Myer. It seems that no one is interested in delivering good customer service.
    My recent post Launched – ESV for iPhone

    1. Nathan

      Hey Steve,

      Jetstar sent us a $100 voucher – the letter they wrote in response addressed each of my complaints (but was ambiguous as to whether the voucher was $100 each or $100 between us. The flight we have booked will still probably be the last time we willingly fly Jetstar.

  12. James

    My complaint sent directly to the top:

    Dear Mr Buchanan,

    After being rather satisfied with the Jetstar/Qantas service over the past few years – I now regret to express my absolute disappointment with your airline’s lack of communication, especially with your customer service team who were rude and held no responsibility for the situation your airline put us in. Please find a detailed breakdown of the issues we experienced below;

    PROBLEM NUMBER 1: DELAYED / FAULTY AIRCRAFT

    Our journey began on flight JQ35 from Melbourne to Denpasar on September 16 2010. I used Qantas Frequent Flyer points for this return fare and purchased an additional Jetstar ticket for my wife so we could both attend a wedding (we were in the bridal party). Upon arrival to the airport and without any prior notifications via SMS, email or phone-call, we were informed of a major fault with the original aircraft and were told there would be a major delay while we waited for another aircraft to arrive. This replacement aircraft was smaller and required a stopover in Darwin to re-fuel. While extremely uncomfortable for the entire journey and arriving to our desitnation just after 3am (originally scheduled for 10:45pm) – I completely understand your situation with a faulty aircraft, but it was a disappointing start to our vacation (which just happened to be my birthday also). It continued to get worse…

    PROBLEM NUMBER 2: DELAY AND CANCELLATION NOTIFICATION OF RETURN FLIGHTS

    At 7:14pm on September 20, 2010 (the night of our flight home) – I recevied an SMS from Jetstar reading ‘Jetstar flight JQ38 from Denpasar is delayed. New departure time 3:50am’. This was originally scheduled for 11:05pm. At 8:45pm on this same evening – I then received another SMS from Jetstar reading ‘Jetstar flight JQ507 from Sydney is CANCELLED. Please contact Jetstar reservations for flight recovery options’. (Before continuing – I would like to also point out the fact that Qantas never sent any pre-notifications of delay for this service – it was only because my wife had a Jetstar Itinerary, she was notified via text message. No email, text message or any other notification was recevied by Qantas for my booking).

    PROBLEM NUMBER 3: CUSTOMER SERVICE CONTACT NUMBER – USELESS

    I immediately called your Jetstar customer service number as your SMS suggested (at 8:47pm to be precice) and dialed the number listed as your 24hr Indonesian contact number (+61 3 9347 0153) as listed on your website. This is where it gets extremely frustrating and disappointing. I was on hold for 53 minutes before anyone attended to the phone call and finally when your customer service team member answered – he simply told me to talk to someone at the airport. I was on hold and being charged at international rates simply to be told to see someone at the airport! I expressed this disappointment to this particular team member and while extremely frustrated, I asked to speak to his supervisor. At this point, I was put on hold for approximately 3 minutes – the line was picked up and then immediately hung up. This wasted phone call was a total cost of $146.53 AUD – completely unacceptable especially when there was no outcome. I expect compensation to cover this cost and for this particular customer service rep to be punished for his actions in hanging up on me.

    PROBLEM NUMBER 4: FLIGHT CREW – EXTREMELY RUDE

    After massive delays and being stuck at Denpasar airport – after taking off, the flight crew rushed one run of service through the cabin and failed to service our middle-section row. When my wife pressed the ‘call’ button to purchase a snack, one of the flight attendants returned and we mentioned that we were missed in the service. He snapped and said ‘well, what do you want’. My wife, feeling ill at the time – asked for some crackers at which the flight attendant snapped ‘oh, well… you’ll have to pay for that’. We already had the cash ready in hand – but his unprofessionalism and rudeness towards us was completely out of line, but at this stage – expected with the level of service we have experienced with Jetstar.

    PROBLEM NUMBER 5: ARRIVAL INTO SYDNEY

    Upon arrival into Sydney International airport many hours over-schedule there was an additional delay as the captain of the plane went too far into the gate area and everyone had to sit down again for a further 20 minutes while they had to reverse the plane back for the bridge to connect to. Following our exit from the plane, there were no Jetstar reps visible or approachable to speak to in regards to the delayed flight and to find out what happens to our connecting flights that had been cancelled. Not seeing anyone within the immediate terminal area, we proceeded outside to collect our baggage and pass thru customs and immigration thinking that the Jetstar team would be there to guide us on the other side. This was not the case. After walking throughout the international check-in area we could only find a Qantas re-check desk and were able to have myself re-ticketed, but they could not help or do anything with my wife’s ticket as they couldn’t access the Jetstar system. They then re-directed us to the offices (level 3 at sydney airport) to speak with an office called ‘Aero-care’. We could not located this office – but found an office with a jetstar sign which was un-attended. We then walked back down to the check in area to have another look around for Jetstar at which point I then called your customer service number on 13 15 38 (at 12:02pm). I explained to the rep that I was in the international terminal and needed to find someone from Jetstar to help me. He gave me the contact number for the Jetstar Service Desk at the airport (02 9352 7845) which I called at 12:04pm. This person was extremely rude to me right from the beginning asking ‘how did you get this number’ and proceeded to tell me I should not be calling her and to speak to the Qantas sales and reservations desk.

    We then RETURNED to the qantas desk and the gentleman there saw our frustration again after returning to him twice in 30 minutes, and was then the only person who rendered us assistance – even though he repeatedy told us it was not something that he was meant to do. He took it upon himself to follow everything up for us through external jetstar phone numbers he had located and got us on our way.

    PROBLEM NUMBER 6: FLIGHT TO MELBOURNE

    My wife was placed onto another Jetstar Flight leaving at 3:15pm from SYD – MEL, however this flight was also DELAYED, even though the plane had been sitting at the gate for the two hours she was sitting around waiting for the flight. This aparently was due to ‘a miss-communication with the cleaners’. It’s not as if the plane had only just arrived late at the gate and cleaners needed to get in before the next flight – for a fact, the aircraft had been sitting there for at least 2 hours prior to the scheduled departure. Yet again, another reason to add to our growing frustrations towards Jetstar. We finally both made it home after 6pm.

    In summary, I find it absolutely disgusting with;

    a) the lack of communication in a delay

    b) extreme poor customer service on the ground, in the air – and especially waiting 53 minutes on hold after being asked by a text message for us to call you after a flight cancellation (at the cost of $146.53 AUD)

    c) No ground assistance and being sent to every corner of the airport after arriving in Sydeny with no connecting flight info

    d) Delays delays delays – some understandable, others unnessessary and unbelievable with the way they were handled.

    Needless to say, its very unlikely we will ever use or recommend the Jetstar service ever again, which also puts a bad mark agains the Qantas brand. Concidering Jetstar is part of the ‘Qantas Group’ and codeshare exists between the two – the complete lack of communications between the two brands is ridiculous – and who is ‘Aero Care’? If Jetstar are outsourcing this company to handle delays and customer service in Sydney – they are not doing their job at all.

    I wait in anticipation for your reply.

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