We just returned from a trip to Perth where we did a show for BHP Billiton's International Health & Safety Awards. It was a great show and BHP Billiton REALLY looked after us BUT, once again, Qantas have given us something to blog about...
I read in the paper two days ago about how Qantas had dropped in it's ratings and was now considered #10 in the world's top ten airlines. Fair enough, thought Sue-Anne and I, the service can be a little slack. However, the voters actually liked Qantas' "laid back" in-flight service. What they didn't like was it's "tired old planes". Now we'd not really experienced this, until yesterday.
We left Melbourne at 12.15 and, with time zone changes, should have arrived in Perth at 1.20pm. About two hours into our 4hr 20min flight, the pilot turned around and announced that a gauge was showing some kind of overheating in one of the engines. Of course he assumed it was merely a faulty gauge... but he took us back to Adelaide just in case.
By now we should have landed in Perth, but instead were still 3 hours away in Adelaide. No-one could tell us how long we would be there, whether we could transfer to another flight, or anything, but after a nerve-wracking hour or so we got ourselves onto a flight leaving Adelaide at 4.45pm and arriving in at Perth just before 6pm. That gave us just enough time to do our sound check before the guests got into the ball room. The rest of the passengers on our flight were informed that another plane was coming in from Sydney to take them to Perth at 7pm, and they'd arrive there about 20 minutes before we were scheduled to go on.
Magicians - ever been in this situation? What DO you do? If you can't make the show due to circumstances beyond your control the least you can do is not accept your fee. What about the airfare and accommodation your client has paid for too? Very awkward situation all round...
Anyway thanks only to God we got there in time and did the show (and thanks to the Burswood for upgrading us to a gorgeous room!) but our return journey was still to come.
It didn't bode well when I saw that one Qantas flight to Melbourne was up on the monitors slated to board one hour after it was scheduled to depart... Sure enough, our 1.55pm departure was late too. It arrived at Perth at 1.55 and left an hour later. Why the delay? In Melbourne it had to have a tire changed.
Now I could go on with tales from our friends in Qantas' mechanical area about how 2/3 of their staff were laid off a while ago and there's simply not enough ground staff to look after the planes... but instead I'll simply say that even though a trip might only be 90 minutes flying time, allow at least 6 or 7 hours for Qantas to spend getting their act together.
On this occasion however, there was a little surprise bonus for us. As we sat in the Perth Qantas Club and watched the clock tick across to 1.55pm, in walked Steve Walker (comedy magician from Sydney) and it was GREAT to have a lovely catch-up chat with him. To some extent, we were sorry when they finally called us up to board our belated plane.
Oh, and it's not all bad news for Qantas, the front counter and in-flight service this trip was excellent!