Slight scare

March 31, 2010

Yesterday we had a slight scare re our trip.  Glenda has been bugging me for about a week to check our seats with Qantas as they were not showing up on our booking on their web site.  I told her not to worry so much and that they will be fine.   Yesterday she decided that rather than bug me again, she would ring them herself.  When she rang Qantas and asked if she could confirm our seats on Flight QF87 from Sydney to Hong Kong leaving at 2:20 PM, she was told “Oh, that flight was cancelled about 8 weeks ago and we moved you to a new flight leaving Sydney at 10:45 AM”  This presented a slight problem as our connecting flight from Canberra to Sydney was scheduled to arrive in Sydney at 10:40 AM.

When asked why Qantas had not advised us of the change, Glenda was told, that because we had booked through FlightCentre, Qantas had informed FlightCentre and left it to them to call us.   In fact, as it turns out, our flights had been changed twice.  When the flight was first cancelled, we were moved to a flight leaving at 9:00 PM.  Then Qantas realised we were connecting to a Swiss Air flight in Hong Kong and would therefore miss that flight if we left Sydney at 9:00PM, so they moved us to the 10:45 AM flight.

Well, those of you who know Glenda can imagine what happened next.  Yep, she got a tad worried and more than a tad annoyed.  She rang Swiss Air and confirmed our flights with them hadn’t changed, which they hadn’t.  Then she rang Qantas back and asked them to change our Canberra to Sydney flight which they did.  (We are now leaving Canberra at 7:30 AM instead of 9:50 AM).  Then she rang me and organised with me for us to go into FlightCentre at lunchtime to “discuss” why we had not been informed.

When we got to FlightCentre we spoke to one of their agents who listened while Glenda explained what the problem was and how annoyed she was.  The agent then spent about 10 mins typing at her keyboard,  probably checking all our flight details, before finally saying she was new and that we should probably talk to the Manager.  We then stood and waited about 15 mins while the Manager saw two other people, [one of whom arrived after we did, but who had an appointment].  By this stage Glenda was getting extremely frustrated, so that when we finally got to talk to the manager she let fly.  The guy was a little taken aback at the sudden onslaught and got defensive and a little annoyed himself.  Once she had calmed down, and he had calmed down, we explained the situation.  He then spent another ten minutes at his keyboard, we assumed he was checking the same facts that the previous girl had checked.  He then told us that a voice message had been left on Glenda’s phone the 2nd of February asking us to call.  Now as far as Glenda was aware she never received any message on her voice mail and its extremely unlikely that if she had received it that she would forget such an important message.   We asked him why they hadn’t called my number and he said that Glenda’s number was the only one they had on file.

He then tried to shift the blame to us and said it’s every travellers responsibility to check their flights for changes and/or cancellations.  He said the best he could do was print off the new itinerary for us which he did.  Frustrated, we left with the new itinerary and without any semblance of an apology.  It was only later that we found printed at the top of  the itinerary were not only Glenda’s phone number and our residential address, but also my phone number and email address.  Telling us that they only had Glenda’s number on file was either an outright lie or a display of total incompetence.  Also, I’m not a customer service expert, but I would imagine it wouldn’t take a lot of effort to notice that we had not responded to their original phone call and either to call us back again or to try another contact.

So the upshot of all this is that we now leave 3 hours earlier from Canberra, we have an extra 4 hours in Hong Kong waiting for our connecting flight to Zurich and have a much lower appreciation for FlightCentre.  Oh, and when bugged by Glenda to check some detail or fact, I will trust her instincts a little more.