Qantas has slammed consumer watchdog Choice for giving it a ‘Shonky’ award and labelling it one of the worst companies in Australia while dubbing the airline the ‘Spirit of Disappointment’.
The Australian airline was one of five brands given a Shonky Award by Choice, which names and shames major brands for poor service or subpar products.
The award for Qantas came after a difficult year for the airline, marred by cancelled flights, poor customer service, lost luggage and frequent flight delays as it struggled to resume operations after the Covid travel bans.
But Qantas has fired back at Choice, claiming its measures to determine the award were unfair and based on data that was factually incorrect.
Qantas fired back at consumer group Choice after they gave the airline a ‘Shonky’ award and dubbed them the ‘Spirit of Disappointment’ (pictured, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce)
‘These awards are clearly out of date and the data Choice is using is itself a bit shonky,’ a spokesperson for the airline told Daily Mail Australia.
Qantas acknowledged that the airline had had ‘several months of poor performance earlier this year’ but said the service had improved ‘significantly’ since August.
‘We’ve been very transparent with our performance figures, both good and bad, but Choice is using figures that are just wrong,’ the spokesperson continued.
‘No one is disputing the fact we had issues earlier this year, and we apologised for that, but it’s disappointing that Choice failed to acknowledge the impact that Covid and border closures have had on the entire aviation industry.’
Qantas put forward alternative figures to Choice, made comparisons to rival airlines and explained how it had improved its service.
It claimed to have ‘beaten’ rival airline Virgin for flights being on time across eight of the past 12 months.
In some of those months, the spokesperson said Qantas was better than Virgin ‘by a significant margin’.
The airline said its call wait times were ‘less than half what Choice is claiming’ and customers had ‘redeemed more than $1 billion in Covid-related flight credits’.
Australia’s flagship airline said the data Choice used to determine its eligibility for the award was factually incorrect and its service had improved ‘significantly’ since (stock image)
Choice awarded Qantas with a Shonky amidst months of cancelled flights, poor customer service, lost luggage and endless delays (pictured, People lined up at Qantas’ domestic arrivals terminal at Melbourne airport)
Choice said Qantas being awarded a Shonky this year came after multiple complaints were sent to the consumer group about the airline.
‘If there was ever a company that appeared to deliberately be going out of its way to win a Shonky Award, it’s Qantas,’ Choice travel expert Jodi Bird said.
‘People are still paying premium prices to fly Qantas, but it’s clear from the complaints we’ve heard, they’re not getting a premium service.’
‘Qantas has made it difficult and confusing for their customers to use flight credits for cancelled travel.
‘This includes forcing many people to spend extra money, putting limits on available flights, being unable to make bookings using credits online – the list goes on.’
Qantas offered $50 vouchers to millions of its frequent flyer members in August after passengers suffered relentless delays and cancellations, as well as lost baggage.
Hundreds of passengers took to social media to slam the airline for taking days to return their luggage, with those on a recent flight to London from Sydney via Darwin told their bags were being left behind in Australia.
Qantas said ongoing operational problems were caused by staff sickness and isolation requirements – which were scrapped in September.
The response from the airline comes after millions of Qantas frequent flyers were offered $50 discounts in August after numerous issues (stock image)
Aviation supply chain issues from manufacturers Boeing and Airbus are also being touted as a cause of delays, as well as an industry-wise labour shortage.
CEO Alan Joyce recently revealed the company was just 11 weeks from going broke at the start of the Covid pandemic in March 2020.
Mr Joyce warned the issues plaguing Qantas would likely continue for the next 18 months due to aviation supply chain issues from plane manufacturers.
Despite its woes, Qantas has reported a return to profitability after five consecutive half-year losses.
Mr Joyce said the carrier expected a ‘very strong’ profit before tax of between $1.2billion and $1.3billion for the first half of the 2022/23 financial year.
2022 Shonky award winners
Qantas – for being the Spirit of Disappointment
VetPay – for a finance product targeting distressed pet owners
Steggles Chicken Nuggets Boosted with Veggies – for hiding veggies so well that we could barely find them
Bloomex – for flowers that don’t deliver
Zega Digital cookware – for an expensive ‘self-cooking’ smart pot that doesn’t properly cook
A Choice mystery shop tested the airline in September, which uncovered staggering wait times for phone enquiries.
‘Our research revealed on average, you’ll be on the phone for 21 minutes before your call is answered, and up to 50 minutes,’ Mr Bird said.
‘By comparison, Virgin came in under a quarter of that average time with five minutes wait, and a maximum of 13 minutes.’
Choice CEO Alan Kirkland slammed the airline for ‘making redeeming flights credits a nightmare’.
Mr Joyce says the issues plaguing the airline will likely continue for the next 18 months due to aviation supply chain issues from plane manufacturers (stock image)