When Enhancements alienate a customer

I have flown Qantas a lot. A real lot. Up to now I have been on Qantas

  • 356, 745 miles
  • 574,125 kilometres
  • 14.33 times around the world
  • for 32.2 days inside their planes!

Their reward to me has been to name me a Platinum Frequent Flier - Thank you Qantas.

Recently Qantas sent me an email which said: We've made a variety of changes in the last few years to give you a broader, more rewarding program. The coming months will see further changes, including enhancements for most frequent fliers...You'll find highlights ....

Now to me, an "enhancement" means: To make greater, as in value, beauty, or effectiveness; augment and to provide with improved, advanced, or sophisticated features. "YOU BEAUTY!", as we say in Australia! Enhancements!

So I read the email. The Qantas enhancements were:
  1. a reduction in the number of times I can use their private airport lounges. Currently I can access them at any time. The email told me that "From 1 February 2011, Platinum  members must be travelling onward that day ". There was a bit of an outcry from Qantas Frequent Fliers about this one. So much so, that they amended this to allowing us to access the lounge, when we land as well!
  2. a reduction in how much luggage I can check in
  3. the removal of my lifetime access to a private personal check in queue and the replacement of that with access to check in machines -the same machines that all passengers will be using
  4. if I fly TWICE AS MUCH as I currently do, I can now get 3 chauffeur driven rides to the airport- 3 car rides for a spend of around $15 to $18 000 a year..yay!
  5. While not a loss to Platinum Flyers,   priority access to frequent flyer seats is being offered to other fliers, dilutiing my benefit so there will be more people looking earlier for scarce frequent flyer seats
  6. Some new program fees are being introduced and some existing fees are changing 
  7. priority security lanes are being introduced at peak times at Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney (T3)
    domestic airports. 
Pick the enhancements?

When Qantas meant enhancements for most frequent fliers, they clearly did not mean Platinum.  Interesting. In other words, in a recession economy, Australia's flag carrier did not see the need to focus on the group most likely to put money into them. In fact, they took away some privileges that probably don't cost Qantas much. I may sound sour grape-ish but my employers invest a lot of money into Qantas on my behalf and I feel a little ripped off.

I wasn't happy so I wrote to Qantas. I told them that:

  1. I felt their email was dishonest suggesting enhancements and highlights. I would prefer if they had been honest and said its a tough economy, we are reluctantly reducing your benefits
  2. I can not see why flying Qantas 61 times (and their partners 13 times) a year is worth it. If I flew 30 times and 7 times, I will still get their next tier down: Gold status and almost all the privileges I do now. I means I will fly Virgin airlines more
  3. I was unhappy that the loss of lifetime check in priority
  4. I was disappointed over the loss of anytime lounge access (now answered)

The reply was a study in how not to respond to an angry customerThe email ignored my feelings as a customer and sought to justify the airlines position. Point by point:
  1. I don't agree that our email regarding the changes to Platinum benefits was misleading or dishonest.... With new Premium Security Lanes, additional options for Platinum members who [if you fly twice as much} there are new benefits
  2. Basically, you receive a higher level of service compared to Gold Frequent Flyers, whether if be membership benefits, enquiries or day of travel facilities and services. You're a Platinum Frequent Flyer and we allocate you the highest level of service in recognition of your loyalty and preference for travel with Qantas... YES CUSTOMER DOES NOT FEEL THAT!
  3. Regarding priority check-in for Silver Frequent Flyers, the On Q check-in system will provide a speedy alternative. Priority check-in will remain available for Silver members traveling internationally.
  4. "Anytime access for Platinum members is being removed from 1 February 2011. However, we've offset this by allowing Platinum members arrival access on arrival. Sorry that this wasn't outlined in our initial email." which I know is dishonest as I saw the email from Qantas marketing which noted that the change had been made in response to feedback.

The classic line "Your feedback is important to us and I've forwarded it on to senior management for their information" was included.
As a result,  I am so frustrated with Qantas that I am now boosting my travel with other airlines. Some of my friends will be shocked at my lack of one eyed loyalty any more!

Come on Qantas, you can do better.

1 Response
  1. Peter Fallon Says:

    Yeah, I admit I've *not* been impressed with the changes - as a lowly plain Qantas Club member, the main reason for joining the program was that I ALWAYS got to talk to a real person on check in, something I consider essential for most travel, and had the separate check in queue. My other reason - outgoing lounge access hasn't been changed, thank God.

    Frankly I can't see how limiting us to one bag does anything except allow them to collect more penalties - there is no way this is going to "improve service". The RFID baggage tags are a good idea, provide they don't get ripped off by baggage handling (I've lost supposedly solid tags this way before), but I can't see why they have to take away the priority check in...

Post a Comment