Qantas, the Australian flag carrier, has had a rough year, yet the airline has been honoured by the consumer advocacy group Choice in the latter’s annual Shonky Awards.
Meanwhile, Qantas has responded to the “award” by saying that the data used by Choice is “shonky”.
Qantas has been called the “spirit of disappointment” by the travel website Choice, which has criticised the airline for its poor customer service, including flight delays, lost luggage, airport chaos, and the difficulty for many customers in claiming travel credit due to flight cancellations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The consumer advocacy group also complained about the company’s excessive wait times for customer assistance, saying it seemed “deliberately to be going out of its way to receiving a Shonky Award.”
According to Choice’s money and travel expert Jodi Bird, “Qantas has long promoted itself as the premium Australian domestic airline, and Australians have been extremely proud of Qantas as a premium airline.”
“But recently, we’ve seen Qantas reduced to the level of budget airlines”.
According to Choice, the airline had the lowest percentage of on-time domestic arrivals of any Australian airline in July (47.1%), albeit this figure had increased to 69.2% by September.
It highlighted customer complaints that flights cost more when booking using vouchers by stating that in April, Qantas and Jetstar had approximately $1.4 billion in unused flight credits and potential bookings.
Bird added, “At the start of the pandemic, Qantas told their passengers they would get a voucher for a credit if their flights were cancelled.”
Qantas “did not clarify to customers that they may be eligible for refunds.”
Millions of frequent flyers have received a $50 coupon and a letter from CEO Alan Joyce after the “spirit of Australia” delivered a series of apologies for service issues during the year.
Too many passengers have had problems with airline delays, flight cancellations, and lost luggage during the previous three months, he stated in August.
“There are valid reasons for this, but they aren’t adequate compared to what you’d expect from Qantas”.
“On behalf of the national carrier, I want to apologise and assure you that we’re working hard to get back to our best.”
Qantas said to 9news.com.au that Choice’s numbers are inaccurate and that the company has been honest about the issues facing the airline sector.
For Qantas, “these awards are clearly out of date, and the data Choice is utilising is a bit shonky,” a spokesperson said.
“After several months of poor performance at the beginning of the year, our service has returned to pre-COVID levels of excellence since August”.
“We have been very forthright with all of our performance metrics, both good and bad, but the numbers that Choice uses are incorrect”.
The spokesperson said that inaccurate information was used by Choice in its analysis of wait times.
In contrast to what Choice claims, “our phone wait times are less than half,” they said.
“Over $1 billion in flight credits relating to COVID have already been redeemed by our customers”.
“We strongly recommend these to our consumers because their conditions are the same or better than before the COVID outbreak”.
“Sadly, Choice neglected to address COVID and border closures’ impact on the airline industry; no one denies that we had troubles earlier this year, and we apologised for that,” the spokesperson said.