Jetstar’s homeless waiting room at Sydney Airport on Thursday night is set to haunt the airlines public reputation, which is already on shaky ground. Australians are not used to the penny pinching carelessness that Jetstar has mastered to keep it costs low when travelling by air. The question becomes now would passengers rather a few dollars more for the peace of mind that the airline will actually care for their welfare.
It is clear that Jetstar has bungled the response to the latest crisis, where hundreds of passengers travelling to Melbourne we left homeless on the footpath outside Sydney Airport as bad weather cancelled flights out of Sydney and the curfew left the airline without any alternative to leave the passengers stranded the night, not the first time the airline has been caught out.
Even more worrying for Jetstar is that its mostly low cost rival Virgin Blue, which is keenly attacking the high yielding business passengers of sister airline Qantas, was able to accommodate all its passengers. Smart public relations, the last thing any airline wants is cranky delayed customers getting anywhere near a camera or microphone.
The only quote the media ran from Jetstar’s media spokesperson was that their ticket prices do not include any assistance of any sort or type in case of bad weather. The crassness of it is doubtfully going to assist them in regaining the support of the public or any understanding in a sea of passengers who were not in the mood for legal technicalities.
They may have apologised but it was lost in the sea of customer complaints which had no where else to turn to expect for the media as Jetstar staff raced off to their homes. Which more of a management blunder than the staff directly, Geoff Dixon the airline boss should expect his staff to work for nothing even though he secretly wishes they would.
Worldwide the clear mood of the public and regulators is airlines should take care of their passengers during delays; it seems only fair to do so. It is a costly business to keep passengers happy during delays but it is a loss leader. They also have to remember if the flight is delayed overnight they are selling a very inferior product. The realisation is for Jetstar, the world of airlines you often have to sell your goods below cost in order to get the masses in to bring the real profits without it others will realise it and take advantage of it in the marketplace. It is just good customer service and an expectation of their passengers.
So Jetstar needs to go back to its drawing board and tack a few dollars more onto its fairly reasonable ticket prices even if it means letting the Tiger (its new lower cost competitor) slightly out of its cage and include coverage during these incidents as if this reoccurs again (which it will no doubt will) the camera and plane loads of cranky passengers will be spreading the to avoid the formally world’s best low cost airline.