Qantas. They’re synonymous with an unblemished safety record, premium service, and are ‘the spirit of Australia’. I’ve had the pleasure of flying with them twice (one was a code share flight with Emirates). They offered hassle free travel with excellent in-flight entertainment. They likewise provided 30 kgs of check in baggage, a lot more than the market average.
Over the past few years, their image has been covered extensively in the news. We Aussies remember how they were losing money fast, causing widespread job cuts. Or how a few years ago they were given a junk credit status. Through the years, numerous emergency landings have set them back. Who could forget the pie incident? You know, the one where a man hit Qantas CEO Alan Joyce face first with a pie?
Economically speaking, Qantas has recovered. They have posted huge profits thanks to the downsizing and budget cuts. As a result, they’ve rewarded their stakeholders. They have likewise overhauled their frequent flyer (FF) program. They’ve been offering fewer points for every dollar spent on flights, and a trickier tier system. Requiring more status credits to reach the next membership level has made it harder for frequent flyers. Instead, they’ve partnered with various banks and credit societies, offering massive joining bonuses on credit cards. Qantas has become synonymous with exclusivity or elitism, perhaps more than ever.
A quick look though at Qantas servicing has questioned whether this elitism is indeed warranted, or is merely a charade. It’s like something purporting to be ‘Made in Australia’, but ‘from imported ingredients’. What’s the use of charging your clients premium dollar when at the end of the day, you’re outsourcing plane maintenance to SE Asia. At the moment, Qantas has sustained its immaculate safety record, but for how long? It seems like every few months, there’s word of another emergency landing. I don’t have to document the when and where, but anyone following the news would know. The latest incident happened just this week, where a direct flight from Melbourne to LA had to stop in Sydney due to excess fuel. Ground workers removed gallons of petrol to stabilise a wobbly plane. I understand the safety factor, but adding 4 more hours to a 14 hour flight is preposterous.
Where to, Qantas?
At this point, we could envy Air New Zealand. They’re just as competent as Qantas, and just as safe. They are most of the things that Qantas could improve on. Where Qantas is wanting, they deliver. For Air NZ, being over 50% government owned also helps. You see, paying premium price is OK, but make sure it is worth the difference. Me? I still collect Qantas points, but not from flights. I earn mainly from my Qantas card on everyday purchases. I do not shop the Online Mall, rarely if ever order from Deliveroo, and do not opt in on to receive Qantas points from Woolworths Rewards. I am wary of mobile phone contracts, so there goes the bonus points. I would say that you won’t get much value if you do not fly regularly with Qantas, spend money overseas, or have a FF linked credit card. At the end of the day, an old hand is no doubt worthwhile, unless of course, you’re ‘still a pre-op transhander.’