web Musings of The Global Traveller

Friday, February 12, 2010

Changing flight loyalty

The other day a friend was commenting to me on how much his flying patterns had changed in the 8 months since Qantas was replaced with their low cost subsidiary Jetstar on New Zealand domestic (and some trans-Tasman) routes. Like me, he was on the final Qantas domestic flight last year. Well over 80% of his (extensive) domestic travel has switched to Air NZ.

It is not hard to understand why there is a big change. The domestic airline lounges are closed and replaced by pay per use lounges. The great Jetconnect crew are gone. The simple fares are replaced with a lower base fare and a vast array of surcharges and fees. The flight schedules are still not great. Customer service is poor, with many reports of passengers denied boarding due to check in queues, passengers misconnecting with Qantas international flights and left to buy a new ticket, difficulties in obtaining refunds, and so on.

I had a look at my own travel record and noticed I've not only flown much less Qantas group flights within New Zealand but also my international travel with Qantas has similarly mostly switched to other airlines. In the 3 years prior to the change, I flew 325 Qantas flights with a mixture of domestic, trans-Tasman and longhaul flights; and also a mixture of all cabin classes (almost all business or first class for the international flights). In the past 8 months I've flown just 7 Qantas group flights. Even if I add in the 4 Qantas flights I will take over the next 4 months, my Qantas group travel has dropped from over 9 flights a month to under 1 a month - a 90% fall.

It seems I'm far from the only passenger to switch loyalty. The few times I have flown Qantas internationally the lounge at Auckland has been almost deserted. Elite and premium passengers within and to/from New Zealand have deserted in droves.


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