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Virgin Blue has posted a $ 160m loss. I should feel sorry for Dicky Branson. But instead I just want to slap him around a bit and say “boo hoo”.
Here’s the scenario.
I’m sitting at Sydney airport experiencing two emotions that are gratingly familiar – outraged and helpless. My flight (do I really have to add “as usual”?) has been delayed. First by 10 minutes, then by another five, then by an extra 20. That’s the official line, but there’s no sense we’ll be heading skyward any time soon.
I’m not the only one feeling the pain. Anxious friends and family, waiting to collect passengers, are talking into mobiles and looking at watches and silently calculating the drain on the mortgage for parking for what they thought would be 30 minutes. In the neighbouring lounge, passengers are obediently lining up at the behest of the robotic Virgin staff to sort out a separate glitch. The gate number for another flight has been changed three times – and frankly, I’m getting sick of hearing about it. You can’t help but wonder if they’re starting to eye the cosy corner away from the loos in fear they might be bunking down there for the night.
How did it get to this? How can it be that thousands of people are daily held hostage by the inefficiencies of plane arrivals and departures, staff with grating smiles coached in standard responses and news stands that sell too much James Patterson and Mars bars at three bucks a throw? There is something way wrong with a multi-billion dollar industry so spectacularly unorganised that even flights before 10am can’t lift off on time. God help anyone trying to board in the afternoon, when the cumulative effects of all this must make for utter chaos.
July figures from the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional development and Local Government show 84.5 per cent of domestic flights left on time. “On time”, of course, doesn’t actually mean on time. It means sometime within 15 minutes of when it was supposed to leave.
But here’s a bit of anecdotal angst.
I’ve tried to catch three flights in three months. Not one left on time or “on time”. One I gave up on altogether, and went home, cranky and $120 lighter in the pocket. I penned an email complaint. Richard still hasn’t replied. Maybe I should have reserved it for the onboard tucker. Oh, that’s right. That’s only for international flights.
So Richard, here’s a plan.
Instead of getting there in plenty of time, I’ll be calling Virgin, Qantas, Jetstar et al to explain I’ve had a few technical difficulties of my own, and will be arriving 20 minutes late.
Or that I can’t be fagged walking from Gate 1 to gate 37. Can’t they just run DJ45 up to meet me?
Or, in a mass protest, start singing protest songs with my fellow flyers and announce we won’t be catching this plane at all – we’ve decided to take the 5pm.
Reckon they’ll listen?
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