Editorial: Budget airline has a bad attitude

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The Jetstar passenger who relieved himself in the aisle mid-flight. Photo / Supplied
The Jetstar passenger who relieved himself in the aisle mid-flight. Photo / Supplied

We publish the picture of the slobbering drunk today because he needs to be called to account and the airline concerned isn't about to do anything about it.

The man was on a Jetstar fight this week when he emptied his bladder on to the aircraft carpet, a man's leg, and a woman's scarf. He reportedly had no memory of the incident on landing.

We think he deserves to be named and shamed, but the airline deserves calling out too.

According to the undisputed reports of those involved, staff responded, after 20 minutes, by giggling. An apology letter and a $200 voucher is alleged to be in the works. That's it.

Our sleepy pinup boy is responsible for his behaviour, of course, but this is the latest in a long catalogue of inept incident management at the Jetstar frontline.

This year alone, staff insisted that wheelchair-bound passengers - including two disability campaigners and a paralympian - had onboard caregivers, and banned the guide dog of a visually impaired couple.

They also refused to refund teenage swimmers whose competition had been cancelled after the Christchurch quake; told a woman who found a bug in her food to log a complaint online; and reprinted disobliging comments from a Lonely Planet travellers' guide about Cairns, one of its more popular destinations.

A member of its ground staff was cleared of assault charges after whacking shock jock Iain Stables, though there is a good case to be made that this was a public service.

The conduct of the airline - and of its parent Qantas - during the disruptions caused by the ash cloud from the Chilean volcano was puzzling at best.

Both showed a disinclination to take off into skies that Air New Zealand, not an organisation noted for its recklessness, seemed to be able to negotiate by flying at lower altitude.

It was difficult to avoid the suspicion that the airline's - rather than the passengers' - convenience that was uppermost in management minds.

The same suspicion is raised by its ludicrously early check-in deadlines on short-haul flights for passengers with carry-on baggage only.

Budget airlines cut costs by streamlining procedures and by offering limited free in-flight service. But professional behaviour costs nothing.

Two years after it entered New Zealand airspace, Jetstar still has work to do to win public loyalty.

- Herald on Sunday

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