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Please VA, help me learn to love you

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BD1959

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OK, delays and cancellations happen. It's how they're handled that defines the service level of an airline.

Twice in three weeks my flight has been cancelled. In both instances I've been moved from a 6-7pm departure to one which is the last to arrive at my destination.

On both occasions I've first spoken to the front-line staff and requested that I be moved to an earlier flight.

On the first occasion, I was routed ADL-SYD-MEL when there was an ADL-MEL direct with availability. The CSE who initially handled the call confirmed there was availability on the ADL-MEL flight "but I can't book that for you - you need to speak with our Travel Agent Team."

Tonight, the 7pm SYD-MEL has been cancelled - automated email informs me I'm booked on the 9:30pm which the SYD airport website informs me has an ETD of 10:15pm. I call the number I'm informed on the email is there to help me. It busy so opt for call-back. Go through the usual Flight Reference, name "I'm sorry, I can't help you - I'll have to put you through to our Travel Agent Team". So, having left my contact details on the automated call-back service, giving them to the first CSE, I then have to relate all details again for a third time.

"What flight would you like and I'll see if I can get you on it".

I eventually give up and guess at the 9pm - only delayed to 9:45pm according to the website.

"I'll see if I can ticket it for you" ... erm... isn't this the Travel Agent desk ... don't they know if they can issue tickets?

Having been Plat with QF I'm used to a proficient Irrops Desk where my options are provided to me and the Agent works to get me home at the earliest opportunity. VA deciding I'm not good enough to status match (I don't work for a Govt Department!!) subjects me to a process with feels decidedly LCC. I fork out for Lounge access because I need somewhere to sit for one of the many delays and cancellations; I'm seriously wondering whether it's even worth me continuing to build my status to SG before end of August if this is the level of service I can expect when things go pair-shaped.

Rant over - I feel better but, my two return bookings over the next 7 aside, I'm starting to think about returning to the QF fold.

Better drink my worth of the bubbles in the SYD Lounge, just in case ....

Regards,

BD
 

WethereX

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i was delayed last night from CNS as our inbound was cancelled, they got the two F100s out of to cover it, but in the end i took a later flight,,, which was also delayed,,, a credit was that i was ticket three times from my original to the F100 to the later 73H with no mistakes, the lounge staff also did well with the huge number of people there and put out extra nibbles and pizza.
 

AustraliaPoochie

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Despite its "enchancement/enhancement" changes at QF, and that fact we now earn less on that QF flight carrier, it in some ways are still better than VA.
Especially lounge food, I don't tend to travel weekday evenings, all day breakfast is not my ideal cup of er, tea...
And also VA's partner substituting 767 to a 320, (I don't like narrow bodied planes), ...
Even though I moan a lot about QF since the changes came out, there is still a soft spot for the old g*rl, in my eyes.
Still have a fleet large enough, to carry people around Australia, with the minimum of fuss.
TT still has a lack of planes, if one goes off line, cancelled flights, if VA (for some reason goes off, also cancelled as in the OP's case.
VA's lounge membership is cheap, but not as high standard in food as QF.
If you want to modify VA lounge in MEL, it should be totally closed, and the modifications done in a 4 week window, not half job here and there. Was in the VA MEL lounge end of June, and you could see the marks on the floor where things used to be. You had to drag the chair near the power point capable desk to get in and out, and this causes that grating noise, as the chairs have no wheels, if you don't sit where the carpet is.
I know I don't make a lot of sense, but I feel that VA still has a long way to go, ... over QF. VA, a fully fledged airline company, nope, not yet.
Not to mention they (VA) should put bar codes onto the VGW so that I could check in with a scan of the bar codes, not having to drag out my ipod for the QR code to be scanned at the scanning point to enter the aircraft. Then have to "power" off wifi and ipod.
 
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lovestotravel

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Qantas does like cancelling MEL-SYD-MEL flights during peak times when loads are low, but at least the next flight is 15 mins later and as a result of this they let you move around between flights and usually no issues onto an earlier flight ;)

Virgin still hangs onto the LCC legacy
 

Captain Halliday

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Virgin still hangs onto the LCC legacy
As anyone in business knows changing the culture is really hard to do. VA clearly haven't shaken the LCC mindset in their culture. Here's my last 5 VA experiences in reverse order (none of which I choose to book)
5. SYD-OOL cancelled. Later flight overbooked. Flown to BNE instead. No food on this flight. Bussed to OOL. Total trip time 6 hours.
4. Travelling with carry on luggage only with was 300grams overweight. Ordered to check it in. Then had to carry laptop by hand without case because I don't trust VA ramp monkeys (see 3). They were technically correct but still it's annoying.
3. Travelling with checked baggage, suitcase spat out on the conveyer bent out of shape on the underside. Handle wouldn't. Extend as a result. VA didn't want to know. Didn't even apologise.
2. Traveling on a flight with baggage allowance, some mystery "system error" showed I had no baggage allowance. I provided the checkin desk with the itinerary, and receipt which showed I had a fare that included baggage. Staff member wouldn't accept that because "with computers these days those things are easy to forge and I can only go by what our system says sir". I had to pay $40 or my bag wasn't going anywhere.
1. SYD-BNE flight with lost luggage. Took 48 hours to get it back.

I accept that this is most likely a shocking and unfortunate coincidence to get 5 bad experiences in a row... But I can see why people don't love VA.
 

BD1959

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Qantas does like cancelling MEL-SYD-MEL flights during peak times when loads are low, but at least the next flight is 15 mins later and as a result of this they let you move around between flights and usually no issues onto an earlier flight ;)

Virgin still hangs onto the LCC legacy
I'm so used to QF cancelling a (usually xx-15) flight, I tend to book those because the xx-00 or xx-30 is so much more expensive but I know I'll usually end up there anyway!

There are a number if areas where VA could help itself:

1. Rebook Pax on the closest flight with availability - this would reduce calls to the (Philippines?) call centre

2. For notifications if cancellations, provide a phone number where the first CSE can actually handle a flight change - See 1

3. Employ an automated system which captures Pax/itinerary details and passes them onwards when a call in passed from CSE to CSE - See 1. and 2. And reduces Pax stress.

What I did hope to see in the responses was something along the lines of "don't worry, BD, life gets easier at Plat with the Plat phone line." Am I delusional?

Regards,

BD
 

serfty

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...

I accept that this is most likely a shocking and unfortunate coincidence to get 5 bad experiences in a row... But I can see why people don't love VA.
seems like with 1, 2, 3 & 5 you have had a run of luck such as can happen with any airline.

4 was due to you.

Let's look at the others.

5 - Can happen with any airline - one evening I had the misfortune to travel crammed into a taxi with three other travelers, mine and their luggage and a driver for 2 hours from BNE to MCY when a QF aircraft became U/S ... 4 hours late on what should have been a 25 minute journey.

3. Can happen with any airline - lesson is to a) Know that VA have baggage service counters at most ports - make sure someone will pay attention to you to enable you to Lodge a compliant & b) never leave the airport without the paperwork you must be provided with when lodging a baggage claim.

2. Can happen with any airline, more and more with computer says no mentality and airlines trying to value add. I would have demanded to see a supervisor. Was the paperwork your original e-ticket? Even if forced to pay in the end I would not have let it go at that and followed up until it was resolved. It does not help yourself or future travellers if you simply let such occurrences go.

1. Can happen with any airline - I have had this with both QF and BA. BA returned bag the next day while with QF it varied between same evening and a week.
 
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Captain Halliday

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seems like with 1, 2, 3 & 5 you have had a run of luck such ss can happen with any airline.

4 was due to you.
I acknowledged in my OP that 4 was my fault, but it is the sort of thing QF usually wouldn't be so pedantic about. I gave this example to underline the point that VA still have the LCC culture/mentality in their staff. As for the other examples, I agree that all airlines have these issues, the difference is in how they respond. In my recent experience VA have responded very badly.
 

straitman

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I acknowledged in my OP that 4 was my fault, but it is the sort of thing QF usually wouldn't be so pedantic about. I gave this example to underline the point that VA still have the LCC culture/mentality in their staff. As for the other examples, I agree that all airlines have these issues, the difference is in how they respond. In my recent experience VA have responded very badly.
VA is not normally as pedantic either. I have had QF be pedantic once and VA never. Surely if you had taken your laptop out of the bag then the bag would have been witching weight limits.
The trick is never make your bag look like it is heavy.
 

Captain Halliday

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VA is not normally as pedantic either. I have had QF be pedantic once and VA never. Surely if you had taken your laptop out of the bag then the bag would have been witching weight limits.
The trick is never make your bag look like it is heavy.
You would have thought, but sadly no.
 

straitman

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4. Travelling with carry on luggage only with was 300grams overweight. Ordered to check it in. Then had to carry laptop by hand without case because I don't trust VA ramp monkeys (see 3). They were technically correct but still it's annoying.
VA is not normally as pedantic either. I have had QF be pedantic once and VA never. Surely if you had taken your laptop out of the bag then the bag would have been witching weight limits.
You would have thought, but sadly no.
Sorry but I am still struggling with this one.

Was your bag 300 grams overweight after you took your laptop out or before?

VA rules are quite specific that:
Personal Items

In addition to the carry-on baggage allowance, one of the following personal items may be carried in the cabin:

  • A laptop computer*, handbag, pocketbook or purse (of reasonable size)
  • A wrap, a blanket, or an overcoat
  • An umbrella without metal points, or a walking stick
  • A small camera or pair of binoculars
  • A reasonable amount of reading matter
  • A pair of crutches or prosthetic devices – for use, provided that the guest is dependent on them for mobility
*A laptop in thin satchel-style laptop bag is considered to be a personal item. A laptop in a larger laptop bag will be counted as part of a guest’s carry-on allowance.
 

Captain Halliday

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Was your bag 300 grams overweight after you took your laptop out or before?
Hi Bill,
It was 300g over in the bag. At check-in, I made the point that you an serfty have made - being that the bag and laptop were under weight if carried as separate items. But I was told their total was over, so check the bag in or leave it behind. I had no other carry-on/personal items. Hence my frustration. A tantrum wasn't going to solve the issue so I checked the bag. I also agree with your advice not to make it look heavy. It just wasn't practical that day.

And in reply to serfty's questions... the luggage charge is still being followed up by the corporate travel agent & the appropriate person at my work. The busted suitcase, I had no luck asking VA to make good on it at the airport. And in case you were wondering I was frustrated but polite. I could have taken it further, asked for a manager, emailed, sent photos of the damaged case, etc etc. I decided my time was more valuable than the cost of a new case.

My overall point remains the same though... the VA response to this unfortunate run of incidents was that of a LCC.

OT - Anyhow, I've just stepped off another uneventful QF flight on a B767 in 24F. And as we all know... getting there safely is the most important part. On the safety front I'm 100% happy with both QF & VA (plus others).
 

Captain Halliday

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Hi all, an update on my VA experience. I had to fly VA out of necessity today. It was completely uneventful, just how I like it. No hassles, good service, working IFE, and taking up a currently hot thread elsewhere, the in flight announcements were mercifully short. I bought the ticket less than 2 hours from departure and still managed row 4 despite nuffin' red status, so I figure I just got lucky. No checked bags so I guess they get credit for not losing my hand luggage. I'm pleased to end my run of bad experiences with VA.
 
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Anna

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Jan 17, 2005
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Yesterday VA lured me into a booking with them for September, because of a combination of status match, free upgrade certificates and the fact that the full flexi fare was the same price as the QF semi flex (or whatever it is called). They have been disappointing in the past with flight cancellations so they had better not stuff this one up. I have built in 2-3 hours leeway into the booking at both ends. They had better get me to MEL in time for my 10am meeting!! After reading this thread I have fingers and toes crossed.

At least their website let me book (it hasn't always, in the past, usually causing me to give up and go straight to QF.com) and the phone staff were very pleasant with the upgrade process so that it didn't even annoy me that I had to ring up to do it instead of being able to do it myself online. They even promised that there will be no issues with flying forward to get home, as long as the earlier flight isn't full. So far so good.
 

JohnK

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Oh look a discussion on the non existent VA service recovery.

Unfortunately without status most delays/cancellations will be difficult but the one excuse I don't quite understand is your ticket doesn't allow you to get on an earlier flight when a flight has been cancelled. Hogwash.
 

serfty

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Oh look a discussion on the non existent VA service recovery.

Unfortunately without status most delays/cancellations will be difficult but the one excuse I don't quite understand is your ticket doesn't allow you to get on an earlier flight when a flight has been cancelled. Hogwash.
It may be non existant to you, but it sure exists.

As to he cited issue, I have never had a problem flying forward, even on the cheapest fares - of course not having any checked luggage helps.
 

JohnK

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It may be non existant to you, but it sure exists.
Well that's encouraging. One of these days VA is going to handle delays and cancellations the way they should be handled.

I am missing out. I should fly VA more.
 
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