So- we’ve had a slight hiccup. Our flight from Melbourne to Sydney (QF415) was delayed by an hour due to an apparent air conditioner fault on the plane. Due to our late arrival in Sydney, we missed our connection to Shanghai (QF129).
After A LOT of stuffing around, we finally got on a Cathay Pacific flight to Shanghai via Hong Kong later that night. A bit of an annoyance considering our tight timeline, but I guess these things happen. More than a little annoyed at Qantas, as when we were trying to sort out a new flight in Sydney, we were told that we shouldn’t have been allowed to book the flights we did, as they were an ‘illegal transfer’ (too short a time between our domestic flight landing and our international one taking off). If you go the Qantas site, you are in fact allowed to book said flight sequence. Not only that, but if you enter Melbourne to Shanghai as your route, it is actually the first option. SO. Not illegal. Actually, pretty legal in my mind.
We were shuffled off to an airport motel in Sydney. While there we were talking to a few others who’d been affected by this and found that some had been offered a Cathay Pacific flight that evening.
To cut a long story short:
– We managed to get onto the Cathay flight that connected via Hong Kong.
– We booked seats etc and had it all confirmed.
– A few hours before departure, we went to check-in, only to find there was no trace of the change.
– We then re-booked, and were assigned new seats in the middle of the cabin, at the back of the plane.
All that sounds like a bit of a rant, which it is, but we did feel that at every step we were being thwarted.To top it off, Cathay Pacific economy class holds possibly the most uncomfortable seat on any commercial aircraft in existence. The base of the seat slides forward, instead of the back reclining.
I hope that makes sense.
The upshot is that you can get yourself into a more reclined position without bothering the person behind of you. A fabulous idea in theory, but in practice is extremely uncomfortable and you’re constantly in a state of feeling like you’re slipping off you seat. Honestly, it was so uncomfortable that I’ll never fly Cathay Pacific economy again if I can help it.
We made it to Shanghai after a mammoth trip of close to 48 hours (should have been 11). That pic to the right is Hong Kong from the air. It looks like most other places from the window of a plane doesn’t it? Hong Kong airport was great though- free WiFi and very comfy couches for over-tired travelers to have a sleep while waiting for their connecting flight.
This is my letter to Qantas that I wrote from Nanjing a few days later:
I am yet to recieve a response.
I wish to let you know of my experience this week. After this experience, I am unsure I will fly internationally with Qantas again.
My wife and I, and some of her colleagues were travelling to a conference in Nanjing. Her company was a major sponsor of the conference, and one of her colleages was presenting at it.
Our flights were booked through our travel agent (Flight Centre, Docklands, VIC). We were booked to travel from Melbourne to Sydney on QF416 to then connect to Shanghai on QF129 on Thu 11 Nov. Our flight out of Melbourne was delayed by an hour due to an apparent fault with the aircraft’s air conditioning system. While we were waiting on the tarmac, we asked the flight attendants if we would miss our connection and were assured the flight from Sydney would wait. After we eventually took off from Melbourne, we asked again. Other passengers on our flight were also asking. The flight attendants made an announcement over the PA that all connections to Shanghai were unaffected by the delay in Melbourne.
When we landed in Sydney, we were ushered to the connection gate where we were told that the flight had not waited, and that we were to be accomodated at a hotel near the airport in Sydney and given vouchers for meals. After collecting our baggage, we went to a Customer Service desk at the domestic terminal to see if anything could be done.
We were told by the attendant that nothing could be done and the best they could do was the same flight tomorrow. What really ticked me off was being told (and not particularly politely), that we had booked an ‘illegal transfer’ because not enough time had been allowed between the domestic flight arriving and the international one departing. We explained that our travel agent had booked the flights and that we had no idea the times would be an issue. Again, the attendant told us that we shouldn’t have been able to book them and that it wasn’t Qantas’ fault that we missed the connection. The fact is, you CAN book these flight segments on the Qantas site. To check for yourself, please look for flights Melbourne to Shanghai and you’ll find that the segments ARE OFFERED: QF416 Mel-Syd 0830-0955,connecting to QF129 Syd-Shanghai 1055-1830.
After getting to the hotel, we ran into someone else who was affected who told us that she had made a fuss at the international terminal and was offered a Cathay Pacific flight later that night, via Hong Kong, getting us to Shanghai the following morning. We went to the international terminal, and after quite some time, eventually got put on this flight.
My point with all of this?
1. The delay in Melbourne WAS Qantas’ responsibility, and the flight to Shanghai would only have had to wait for around 30 mins for us to be able to get it.
2. We were told, without question, that our connection would wait for us in Sydney while we were on the original domestic flght. I fail to believe that cabin crew were not aware we were going to miss our flight.
3. My wife’s company lost face by being late to a conference they were a major sponsor of. The other member of our party who was presenting only had limited time to prepare and go through her presentation with her translator before having to present.
4. Even with missing the flight, we SHOULD have been immediately put on the Cathay flight, and not had to have done the amount of to-ing and fro-ing to sort it out for ourselves.
We are extremely disappointed by this experience, and do fly Qantas whenever we travel. We are both Frequent Flyers and expected more from Qantas.