In Australia, the COVID-19 Pandemic has created some fascinating situations.

Only this month, the Australian State of Queensland has chosen to relax the closure of its borders to tourists and visitors and population travelling into and out of Queensland from other states.

These previous STRICT regulations had meant that up until just recently, visitors to Queensland had needed to hotel quarantine for fourteen days, at their own expense, before being allowed to freely move around in the community, in Queensland.

Similarly, under those previous regulations, residents of Queensland who left the state and then returned home, also were required to hotel quarantine for fourteen days.

These laws were in place for a significant amount of time, but were relaxed at the start of this month [November], coincidentally two days after a State Government election was held in Queensland and the incumbent government was returned.

Anyway, what this meant in my family was that my wife had not seen her elderly mother who lives in Queensland since New Years Day, some ten and a half months earlier.

And so, with the Queensland Government now permitting travel for Queenslanders into and out of CERTAIN PARTS of Australia [not Sydney or Melbourne], my wife arranged for her mother to fly down and visit us for a week.

Qantas Flights were booked by my wife, for her mother.

However, a handful of days prior to travel, Qantas cancelled the flights, and reallocated my mother-in-law to their Budget carrier Jetstar.

Mistake Number 1.

Dear Qantas:

“If my wife had wanted to ship her mother by your budget carrier, she would have organised a Jetstar booking in the first place.”

There is a reason why people choose not to fly Jetstar.

Actually, there are MANY REASONS why people avoid Jetstar…..

When my mother-in-law arrived at Coolangatta Airport, the Jetstar computer there did not have her booked on the flight she had been reassigned to.

What transpired was a phone call from my mother-in-law to her daughter, who then needed a second phone to simultaneously call Qantas “Customer Service” and be told that the Jetstar computer system at the airport needed to be refreshed or updated and the booking would then magically appear at the Coolangatta Jetstar check-in.

Why this action needed to be performed at the last minute is concerning…

Anyway, all good news, my mother-in-law was able to board her flight.

Mistake Number 2.

Once on board, my mother-in-law found herself seated next to two adult male travellers, who she had never met. Yet immediately around her [according to reports], were at least twelve vacant seats.

With all the talk about maintaining SAFE SOCIAL DISTANCING PROTOCOLS as being important for limiting the spread of Coronavirus, my mother-in-law was concerned for her health. [Announcements about social distancing had been made both on board the flight before take-off as well as inside the Airport terminal].

Because of this awkward seat allocation, and before take-off, my mother-in-law asked a male flight attendant whether she could relocate herself to one of the nearby vacant seats, once the plane had taken off. The flight attendant told her this would be ok.

My mother-in-law explained that the men seated beside her were unknown to her, to which the male flight attendant had answered:

“Oh, I thought you must have known them as you were seated beside them.”

How did the Jetstar “system” seat an elderly female passenger beside two young adult male passengers when there were a number of significantly safer places in this cabin for her to be seated?

Mistake Number 3.

Once the plane was in the air, and it was safe to do so, when my mother-in-law did relocate, a female flight attendant arrived at her seat and ordered her back to her original seat, stating to my mother-in-law in a bullying and humiliating tone:

“You must return to your original seat. Or I will have to have someone come and remove you from this seat. And then I will have to fill in a ton of paperwork if you don’t ….”

It appeared that no amount of reasoning would persuade this female crew member to change her mind, despite the fact that there had been a mistake in seating allocation, and despite the fact that a safer seat was available.

When this encounter was shared on Social Media…

When my wife shared this encounter on social media, to a man, all but one of the people who commented suggested that my wife and her mother should report this female flight attendant.

They also [all but one] commented that when working in such a PUBLIC Customer Service role, there is NO EXCUSE for this type of rudeness towards a paying customer.

Only one person offered a counter-opinion, suggesting that the female crew member was “having a bad day” and was possibly stressed from the whole effect of pay cuts etc as a result of the pandemic.

Mistake Number 4.

“Having a bad day” is no reason or justification for rudeness of any level, towards customers.

Especially in a customer service role like an airline flight attendant.

Trying to explain or justify someone’s poor behaviour in this manner is stupid and ridiculous.

The Lesson For Today:

If you are employed in a customer service role, and you are paid to deliver service, then that is indeed what you need to be doing.

Whether it is on an aeroplane, at a dental practice or doctor’s surgery, on a telephone, or somewhere else totally different, if you choose to take the “service” out of  the CUSTOMER SERVICE  in your business, you’re actually helping to take the “customers” out of your business, and give them to your competitors’ businesses.

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