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This time I mean it, no more Jetstar for me!

June 11, 2015

Last Wednesday night I got a text from Jetstar [a budget airline in Australia that I always swear I will never fly again…and then I do because they are usually the cheapest] letting me know that my flight to Hong Kong the next morning would be delayed 2.5 hours. Immediately I realized that meant I would miss my connection in Singapore so I called them to see what the plan was. In true Jetstar fashion, the girl on the other end was unable to tell me anything other than somehow they would get me to Hong Kong and I would find out how when I got to the airport [seriously]. That was [not] reassuring. So the next morning I got dropped off and went to check in. When I asked about the delayed flight I was told that I would now arrive in Singapore at 4:45 [my connecting flight left at 3:45] and that they had rebooked my connection to Hong Kong for THE FOLLOWING DAY at 6:45 am. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. I had already booked a place to stay for that night, would miss a huge chunk of time of my weekend trip, AND would be sleeping in the airport! =( My only consolation was that my connection was in Singapore. I knew Changi was/is a fabulous airport and if you must spend 16+hours in an airport, Changi is THE airport for that. I was disappointed but what could I do?

I boarded the plane, remembering yet again why I said I would never fly Jetsar when I asked for a blanket because it was freezing and was told I had to BUY one. Ha. The flight was uneventful and boring [typical Jetstar flight] and we made it to Singapore. I joined several others in hunting down the Jetstar customer service desk to see about getting meal vouchers [I mean, if they are inconveniencing us this much, surely they can fork out a meal, right?]. Apparently they had delayed other flights as well, and the customer service desk kept very busy trying to get to everyone. When I got up to the counter and told them about my situation, the girl behind the counter said they had more flights to HK that night and she would try to put me on one. I got my hopes up! Then she said there weren’t any more flights. Then she said there were. Then she said they were all closed and she didn’t know why. Then she asked her co-worker about it. Then she said there were two more flights that night. Then she said there weren’t. I KID YOU NOT. She went back and forth on this and I could only think “oh, Jetstar…incompetency at so many levels.” At least she was nice about it. Finally I said “ok, fine. Can you please just give me a meal voucher?” I had already asked to be put up in a hotel. Another lady in line said if they delayed you more than 12 hours they had to put you in a hotel, by law. Well, fat chance of that. Of course they weren’t putting anyone up in the airport hotel, silly of us to think Jetstar would ever do something like that! While I was asking about a meal voucher, another staff member was handing them out liberally to everyone else who was on a different delayed flight. But the few of us who had just flown in from Perth were all being denied since they hadn’t been authorized to give us any! One by one my fellow passengers dropped out of line, tired of spending so much time just to get a $13.00 meal voucher [good only for one restaurant, as I was later to discover, one whose name on the voucher didn’t match the name on the restaurant, causing many people to wander around asking everyone where it was.]. I was determined, however, because of the principle of it. For an HOUR I waited, while staff continued to tell me they couldn’t get a hold of their supervisor to authorize our meal vouchers. And they KNEW our flight had been delayed and we were spending the next 16 hours in the airport! Just another example of how Jetstar can do better – authorize their staff to automatically give meal vouchers for flights they KNOW have been delayed/cancelled! I was getting shaky from not eating so long [no free food on the plane, even though it was an international flight.] and kept asking for them to please just give us the vouchers so we could go. Nope. Not until a supervisor finally called them back with approval.
FINALLY got a voucher and set off in search of the restaurant. I only found it because a couple in front of me in the elevator asked someone where it was. I later overheard a guy at the airport information desk asking where it was, and the lady didn’t know! I did, however, and was able to help him find it. =)

Unfortunately that would not be the end of my dealing with Jetstar as I still had to fly on to Hong Kong in the morning!

{I’ll post next time about spending the night in Changi.}

But, this time it was Jetstar Asia, and as small of a difference it might seem, at least the staff is better. After asking a flight attendant about whether or not it was a full flight and having him ask me if I wanted to sleep, I explained about my delayed flight and how I had spent the night in the airport and he was able to move me to a back row where I was able to sleep for a few hours. Halfway to HK, I got up to use the lav and had to pass by a man who was standing in front of them. I asked if he was waiting, he said no, I used it, and then went back to my seat. When I got there, the man was sitting in one of my seats. I was confused but thought maybe he was sitting to let people pass. He had to get up to let me in and when he did, he said, “We’re neighbors now, I hope you don’t mind.” Wait, what? My groggy brain was so confused. I kinda just looked at him and said “uhhhh, I’m…sleeping here” as I gestured to all 3 seats. He faked a surprised look and said “oh, you bought 3 seats?” I replied “Well, no, but the man back there moved me back here” as I gestured to the flight attendants. I started to explain about how I had slept in the airport due to my missed connection and he started to back away, playing all friendly and saying “oh, I’ve been there…” I was so surprised that he would try to steal my seats while I was in the lav! In all my travels, I’ve never thought to steal someone’s back row when they got up to do something, even though I’ve envied them their space. Ha. That was a first. As they would say in Australia, what a cheeky guy!

BUT…the good news!!! The good news is that I did NOT have to fly home on Jetstar! I had used my frequent flier miles with United to book my flight home and they had booked me on Thai Airways. And OH MY SOUL what a difference. I realized then that I have spent waaay too much time on budget airlines this past year! It felt like LUXURY to be on that flight. Not only did they give us two free meals on both legs of the trip, but they gave us free blankets [of course] and hot towels. The staff was wonderful, the seats spacious [the flight from Bangkok to Perth was on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner and it felt so new and fancy and had huge seatback screens with lots of entertainment choices], and it wasn’t a jam-packed flight like Jetstar’s usually are [I have been told they cancel not full flights sometimes to join flights together and make full flights. Which is what I think might have happened to my original flight, even though they blamed it on “fog.” How they can know 16+ hours ahead of time that there will be fog in Singapore during the hour we are to land, but that 2 hours later it will be clear, is beyond me. And they expect us to buy that? Please! At least tell us the truth.] and on both legs I got entire rows to myself! I would DEFINITELY fly Thai Airways again.

What are your experiences with Jetstar? I know several others in line with me that day said they were going to complain to Jetstar. I told them it wouldn’t even make a difference. Unfortunately I can say, after living here for 9 months, Australia’s customer service is almost as bad as Russia’s. I love Australia and I wish that wasn’t true, but sadly it is. They really, REALLY need to work on their customer service. In all departments. It’s not just Jetstar.

Thoughts?

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