35 entries categorized "Qantas"

Passing the buck back to Qantass

For those fascinated by our travel tales, here's a follow-up on this post where we checked-in at Melbourne airport to discover we were seated in the centre of the centre section of the plane and Qantass told us that Webjet had allocated and "locked in" those seats for us.

Well I've just gotten off the phone from Webjet who assure me that they have no control over the seating when passengers have Frequent Flyer preferences as we do. (Ours is 'Forward Window'). Webjet said that according to their records, one minute after our booking was made Qantass allocated us those centre seats.

I guess our Frequent Flyer preferences are just as important as the 'priority' labels they stick on our bags (which often are the last to appear on the luggage carousel).


National Sorry Day

Qantas17Today was National Sorry Day in Australia and Qantas was sure doing it's bit. We flew back from Sydney where we've been working for Canon at the Printex Trade Show and Qantas managed to delay at least half of it's flights out of Sydney today, giving them the opportunity to say "Sorry" to their customers over and over and over again....


Flying back on Qantass from China

Just a few words about our trip back from Beijing.

We flew Dragonair from Beijing to Hong Kong arriving in HK around 11pm. The flight was great. The plan was we'd stay in the 'Premium Lounge' at the airport until our 9am Qantas flight the next day.

Well.

The 24 hour 'Premium Lounge' was closing when we approached (reminded me of the old joke, "Open 24 hours... not in a row!") They told us of another of their lounges across the airport, so we trudged a looong way only to discover the cost was $US47 for 5 hours in the lounge, which included a 2 hour nap. Unfortunately, the nap room was fully booked so the offered us a discount of a few dollars. $42 to sit in a lounge for 5 hours... we moved on.

Sue-Anne slept in a lounge chair in the terminal for a few hours while I stayed up waiting for the Qantas lounge to open at 5am.

I should point out that we didn't have our boarding passes either - when we arrived in HK we went to the Qantas transfer desk and they told us to come back and collect our boarding passes at 7.30am. That meant we couldn't get into the main departure area until then. Eventually Cathay Pacific gave us a transit pass to enter the area and queried why Qantas didn't.

After getting into the Qantas lounge (they weren't keen as we had no boarding passes) we freshened up and then went back to the transit desk to get our passes (they had opened at 5am too, not 7.30am as they told us earlier). We didn't get the upgrades we ordered with our points, but they said we were "on the list" and to check at the gate. We checked at the gate, but the people at the gate told us to check at the gate?!!! When we entered they scanned our tickets and we asked about the upgrades and they looked at our tickets and said "No".

The flight itself was uneventful. I decided to watch the two Clint Eastwood movies 'Flags of Our Fathers' and 'Letters From Iwo Jima'. Halfway through the second film, Qantas' award-winning entertainment system conked out. After about 30 minutes it restarted, but the interactive 'fast-forward' and 'rewind' feature wasn't working so there was no time left to watch 'Letters From Iwo Jima' again. I chose the shortest movie 'Music & Lyrics' instead, and the system was turned off for landing 5 minutes before the end of the film.

Instead, I was thoroughly entertained by the antics in the seat in front of me as a man, who tried to order duty free, was first approached by an attendant who came to take his order then returned to tell him he was too late. "It was an 8 hour flight, you had plenty of time earlier" she argued. She returned to his seat four times to tell him how he should have ordered earlier, it was not her fault she was late in responding to his call, and surely it didn't take her 20 mins to come after he'd pushed the call button (it did!). The WORST example of customer service I've ever seen in my life!

Anyway, we now know of a direct flight to Beijing from Sydney. That's the one we'll be on next time!


We're in Hong Kong

Well here we are at 6.30am in the Hong Kong Qantas lounge waiting to get on our 8am flight to Beijing.

When we arrived at Melbourne 12 hours ago to check in, we were told that WebJet had reserved special seats for us and they were "locked" into the system (thus we didn't get the upgrade we requested... good on you WebJet!) The seats were the middle two in the middle four in the centre of the plane. Not only did neither of us have a window seat, we didn't have an aisle seat either. After a bit of messing about, the service desk shifted us further down the plane, still in the centre four seats but at least one of us had an aisle this time (I hope that makes sense... I got zero sleep on the flight).

When we got on board, I noticed my seat had no headset... no big deal, when the attendant came down the aisle handing out menus I asked him for one and he said he'd get it.

20 minutes later... I pressed the attendant call button. Nothing. I forgot that this button is nothing more than a toy for passengers to play with while passing the time... eventually the movies started. I got up, walked down to the attendants' hideaway hole and asked him for a headset. He pointed to a box of them indicating I should help myself. I made a mental note that he obviously didn't want to be disturbed for the rest of the flight. I went back to my seat and slithered back into it, buckling myself in and sandwiching the wafer thin blanket between my legs and the back of the seat in front of me. The person in front reclined their seat, locking me in for the rest of the flight.

The rest of the flight was uneventful. The attendants appeared to hand out trays of the most AWFUL chicken I've ever tasted (KFC is gourmet compared to this), then they disappeared back into their hideaways for the rest of the flight.

As I couldn't sleep at all, I looked forward to the "snacks & refreshments" the menu claimed were available all night... no-one came around offering anything, and when I went to the hideaways to try and rustle up a drink the attendants had velcroed the curtains securely shut to deter any dehydrated passengers.

As for the movies. I watched 'For Your Consideration' (awful), 'The History Boys' (even worse, I actually nodded off for a few minutes during this one), and 'Stranger Than Fiction' (bearable, but boring).

Like they say in the theatre, you have a bad dress rehearsal, you'll have a good show.

The flight to China has been our dress rehearsal, I'm really hoping the trip itself is the show!


In Security Part 2

Well remember the man from Qantas Group Security I phoned after our gaffer tape was confiscated by security at Brisbane airport? QUICK MEMORY JOG. He has kindly looked into the matter and I'm posting his response below in hopes that it helps all travellers (especially us magicians with our odd items) in planning what to put in what bags for future trips! (It still doesn't explain why the security guys said "You need to take it up with Qantas" when it's obviously their department that makes the rules).

The following is the response I have received from Security, I hope this answers your questions. I am sorry we do not make the rules, however we have to ensure all passengers comply with them.

The Aviation Transport Security Regulations list of 'Prohibited Items' include the carriage of "things capable of being used to restrain a person"

(Reg 1.07 - Table 1.07).

Gaffa tape certainly fits this description and is on the security guard's list of prohibited items. There is no detailed list of what is and what is not permitted into a sterile area - there is too much grey area with a lot of the discretion being left to the guards who have to make judgement calls in many cases. A small role of sticky tape would make it through, gaffa tape won't.

The only real guide I tell travellers is only take into the cabin what you need for the flight.

Should you require any additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Kindest regards

Laurie Willoughby

Manager Safety Standards & Dangerous Goods Compliance

Qantas Airways Limited


Qantas... in security

Qantas17Last week we flew up to Brisbane for a show at Sanctuary Cove. I'm pleased to report the show went exceptionally well, and we got to work with Australia's funniest ventriloquist Darren Carr, but Qantas once again gave us something to talk about...

1 - Their online check-in service. Qantas is encouraging their customers to "Check In Online". I find the whole concept a bit weird, but I gave it a go anyway. You can check-in, choose your seat and print out your boarding pass between 24 hours and 1 hour of your departure.

When I tried to check-in online 20 hours before departure, the website told me that I had already checked in for my Melbourne to Brisbane flight (I hadn't), and it would not show me my seat number or allow me to print a boarding pass.

It did, however, offer to check me in for my return flight (48 hours later) and gave me a seat allocation of 6A.

It wouldn't let me check Sue-Anne in, so if I was able to change my seat I couldn't guarantee she'd be sitting next to me as we both had to log in to the Qantas website site individually. (Their FAQ says you can check-in up to 9 passengers travelling together, but doesn't say how to do it.)

In the end, we were in seats 6A and 6B on the way up to Brisbane, and seats 8E and 8F on the way back??!!

I told my story to Qantas via their website www.qantas.com/yourexperiencewithqantas and I got this reply from 'Qantas Network Operations':

"I have printed your Email out , and will keep this before me for the next few days. We have not received any correspondence lately regarding the on line check in facility so hopefully this was just a glitch. We appreciate that you have taken the time to advise us of the problem."

2 - No lunch... again! Flying up to Brisbane departing 11.05am arriving 1.10pm, flying back to Melbourne 10.50am arriving 1.10pm. Offered a muffin for morning tea... I wrote to Qantas asking exactly what time do they consider to be lunchtime, but I have yet to hear back from them.

3 - Check in. As we arrived early at Brisbane Airport we tried to get an earlier flight. We were scheduled on the 10.50am to Melbourne, and the check-in man said he could put us on the 9.50am. We were thrilled. Darren showed up and we tried to get him on an earlier flight to Sydney too, but the check-in man said the earlier flight to Sydney was full.

We hurried through security (see item 4) to get to the gate, then I noticed that the boarding passes, and the luggage tags. were for the 10.50am flight after all! Unless he was just completely incompetent, the check-in man had lied to our faces. If I was Qantas, I'd want neither incompetents nor liars working for me.

4 - Security. At Brisbane airport, as they did at Melbourne, security asked me to open my carry-on luggage because they saw Sue-Anne's brass Jeannie bottle in my bag. Understandable. In the USA security considered it a potential weapon (you could hit someone with it) but here in Australia, they just wanted to look inside it.

However, in Brisbane a security officer saw that I also had a roll of gaffer tape in my bag. (We use it to seal up our carboard "roadcases" at check-in). He told me I couldn't take it on the plane. Sue-Anne, Darren and I stared at him in disbelief. After a few minutes of arguing he (and another officer) told us that they were under instruction from Qantas not to allow gaffer tape on the plane. No amount of logical reasoning could change their minds, they told us we had to take it up with Qantas.

He said we could either put it in our checked bags (which were already checked) or go out of security and post it to ourselves, which would cost $7). As we were running late for our plane (see item 3) we abandoned the $25 roll of gaffer and headed for the gate.

Later, I spoke to a man from Qantas Group Security and I expressed my anger that Qantas were telling security what can and can't get through, but they weren't telling their passengers. Even with the assistance of the Qantas Club staff we couldn't find a comprehensive list of prohibited items published on the web or anywhere. And of the incomplete lists we did find, gaffer tape of any kind was not listed.

The man from Qantas Group Security told me that gaffer tape was not prohibited. He reiterated what I believed that Qantas could not tell security what to let through and what not to let through, and he asked for all of my travel details so he could investigate the matter further.

If can't believe the security guys wanted a roll of gaffer tape that badly...

The whole concept of prohibited items is flawed. It tends to be done retrospectively (after a hijacker has used an item like a shoe-bomb or liquid explosives) instead of preventively (anticipating what could be used in a hijacking).

For example, if they were serious about potentially dangerous items being taken on board, the following things would also be prohibited:

  • Shoelaces, retractable key chains, belts, headphone cords - potential strangling weapons.
  • CD - potential stabbing or slashing weapon if broken in half.
  • Metal pens, sharpened keys, metal forks, safety pins - potential stabbing weapon, especially to the throat. (They have banned sewing needles and nail files for this reason).
  • Wineglasses, bottles - potential slashing weapons if broken.
  • Winebottles - potential bludgeons.
  • Mobile Phones - used as detonators in many past bombings.

Also, what's the deal with limiting liquids to 100mls per person? The liquid explosive terrorists were working in teams last year... how many people need to combine their liquids to make a big enough bang? Will limiting the amount of liquid per person really make that much of a difference?

We were almost refused entry to a flight in the USA a few years ago because I had a hollow book in my carry-on (I was using it to hide money in hotels where there were no safes). The security officer called her supervisor over and the following exchange took place:

"He has a hollow book!"

"What's in it?"

"Nothing..."

"Let him on the plane."

I realise that I have no power in determining who takes what on a plane, but all I'm asking for are two things:

  1. Consistency. Don't let some things through sometimes (like my Leatherman!!) and not other times (like Gaffer Tape).
  2. Information. If you TELL ME what I can't take on the plane, I won't take it. I don't want to cause trouble, but just don't play games with me and change the rules whenever you feel like it.

I'll let you know what happens re: 'The Great Gaffer Tape Investigation'.


Qantas.. no, Jetstar!

Well, it may be branded Jetstar but we all know it's just Qantas pretending to be Virgin...

We flew up to Hamilton Island to do an Awards Show over the weekend, more about that in another post! As far as the travel goes, Sue-Anne was picked up at security for trying to smuggle a pair of nail scissors in her hand luggage. Now bear in mind, this is the same security checkpoint that has (twice!) not been concerned about me carrying (accidentally) my 'Leatherman' in my carry-on luggage.

Now realistically, which item do you think would be more capable of harm in the cabin of an airliner:

Scisors Leather

On the trip up we forgot that Jetstar don't serve you food, they sell it to you, so when we came back this morning on the 10.55am from Hamilton Island arriving in Melbourne at 3pm, we restrained ourselves from filling up at the airport cafeteria and prepared to buy our lunch on the plane.

The yummy Jetstar menu featured: Classic Sandwich $5, Hot Meat Pie & Sauce $5, Sub Sandwich $6.50. They also had a selection of chips, lollies, some Pepsi range soft drinks and lots of alcohol.

I thought I'd follow the good old Aussie tradition and have a pie, while Sue-Anne was planning on a sandwich.

"Sorry", said the attendant, "No pies today." Oh. "No sandwiches either, we sold out on the flight up here and the catering is done from Melbourne. We never know how much we'll sell. We have hot cups of noodles, salted cashews, muffins, or pringles."

I had a tube of Pringles and a lemonade. Sue-Anne had wine, a muffin and some cashews.

Next time we travel on Jetstar we'll follow another good old Aussie tradition... Bring a plate!


Last night's Show

We were up in Sydney last night performing for Canon's annual sales awards. It was a great night and the venue was very interesting. I would have expected The Crystal Ballroom at Luna Park to be colorful, silly and fun... or even maybe a little elegant... but it was a straightforward multi-purpose conference room. Practical, but BYO atmosphere. The harbour view is sensational though.

The show was in three parts for us. First, an exec wanted to do a simple magic trick before his speech so, instead of trying to find time to rehearse with him we created a routine based on 'The Great Whamo' where he came out (with Sue-Anne dressed in black as his arms) and performed a series of comic magic effects (including a dove production and a rabbit from the hat) which went down really well.

The second piece was a variation of our classic show with the MIcrophone levitation, my silk and cigarette routines, a toast to Canon, the Sue-Anne's Floating Table and her new 'Blues Brothers' routine which brought down the house. (During the Floating Table some people saw me holding the remote control for our Minidisc and they convinced themselves that I was causing the table to float using the remote. Sometimes it's almost impossible for a female magician to get any credit! *g*)

Finally, we had to reveal a special destination that the top sales achievers would be going to next year. I had given the presenter a sign, torn in many pieces, which he displayed before I came out and restored it. A last minute decision but it went over very well and seemed to be surprisingly deceptive.

The compere of the night was not only a popular Canon exec, but he knew a few tricks himself and performed the Lota Vase and D'Lites during the evening. And, he did them very well! The best thing was that he presented not to show off, but them to illustrate concepts.

We're heading up to Sydney again week after next, so we're looking forward to working with the Canon team again. (And, we may have some photos from last night's show for the blog soon too).

LeathermantaschenwerkzeugOur flight up with Qantas was fine, but once again I have security concerns. When we got to the hotel in Sydney I opened my carry bag and realised (again) I'd forgotten to take my 'Leatherman' multi-tool out... and it hadn't been picked up at security. (Though, on the way back, they did pick up the roadcase wheels in Sue-Anne's carry-on and they examined those...)