Qantas: One photo sums up the airline’s baggage nightmare

A photo has emerged of a single suitcase left on a tarmac operated by Qantas, in the latest scandal to hit the airline.

The photo was shared on Twitter by Australian singer Fanny Lumsden and captioned with a single: “Lol Qantas”.

It is not known if it was on an international or domestic flight.

It comes as the Australian airline has come under fire for lost or missing luggage, with the flag carrier outsourcing its baggage handling staff.

In July, The Guardian reported that, on average, one in 10 bags is lost or unloaded on domestic flights departing from Sydney Airport.

Head office executives have also been asked to work as porters in an attempt to address staffing shortages. The call was looking for at least 100 volunteers to work three or five days a week in four or six hour shifts.

Speaking to the ABC before Monday night Four corners investigation, a member of ground staff said Qantas’ outsourcing of in-house ground handling was a major issue.

“Bags don’t make planes in time. Bags are loaded incorrectly on planes,” they said.

“Flights are being canceled because the crew is running out of hours to operate those flights in the time it would take to resolve the issues.”

Incorrect baggage placement due to inexperienced handlers could also affect aircraft safety due to poor weight distribution.

The unidentified Qantas employee described an incident where baggage was loaded incorrectly, but the error was only detected just before the hold was about to close.

“There are many things that can go wrong”

As well as baggage handling issues, a Qantas pilot said the airline’s staffing issues could potentially pose security concerns.

“We are working longer hours,” the pilot said.

“We are on the red line, operating at full capacity in a very dynamic and challenging environment. There are many things that can go wrong.

News.com.au has contacted Qantas for comment, however, the company did not respond by press time.

While Qantas was consistently named the world’s safest airline between 2014 and 2021, this year the carrier has dropped to seventh place.

Instead, the top spot was taken by Air New Zealand. The drop in ratings was the result of the age of the airline’s fleet and a “slight increase in incidents”, according to the report.

Equipment and morale concerns ‘in the gutter’

Another ABC investigation also found that company morale was “absolutely in the gutter”, with several departments within the airline affected. Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association federal secretary Steve Purvinas told the ABC that some departments have seen absenteeism rise to as high as 83% of workers per shift.

“I can use a department in Sydney [as an example]where they need 60 people every shift,” he said.

“It’s not unusual for 50 out of 60 people to call in sick on any given day.”

An engineer, who had worked for the airline for 30 years, also called Qantas’ Mascot jet base an “absolute wreck”.

Identified as Mark, he said neglect, outdated technology and cuts to infrastructure and equipment meant engineers were not ready to do their jobs.

“It’s like working with one hand tied behind your back most of the time,” Mark said.

He said basic equipment such as supports are now hard to come by, which means engineers have to “search and scavenge trying to find a suitable working support suitable for the job”.

The lack of specific specialist tools also led to unnecessary delays.

“They just don’t have the proper tooling to do all the work that we have to do on a day-to-day basis,” he said.

“We often try to find tooling because it’s either been loaned out to another port or taken out for calibration.”

Qantas announces loss of $1.89 billion

After a difficult few years for the aviation industry, Qantas announced this year a “staggering” loss of over $1 billion for the third consecutive year.

Sharing the results, CEO Alan Joyce recorded an underlying loss of $1.89 billion for the 2022 financial year. He attributed the setback to a labor shortage impacted by Covid-19 and the difficulties of the airline to rebound from post-pandemic travel.

In an attempt to win back disgruntled customers, Mr Joyce proposed a $400 million customer service plan, which included new routes from Auckland to New York, lounge refurbishments in Adelaide and New Zealand and a good $50 for frequent flyers.

However, some customers weren’t impressed with the rollout.

Bronze level customers and above were eligible to receive a $50 promotional code to be used when booking a round-trip flight to be made by November 30, 2022 for travel by June 30, 2023.

Frequent flyers criticized the 10-month waiting period and called the voucher an “epic corporate failure” and a “ploy” to boost their bookings.

In a post on Reddit, a QFF member posted a screenshot of the voucher’s “how it works” page with the caption “Insincere $50 voucher from Qantas – not a happy camper”.

Several other users agreed in the comments.

“No apologies, just marketing – you must book an eligible return flight to use it,” one user wrote.

“I just got a $50 voucher offer from Alan Joyce to redeem by September 30. No travel plans until then. Keep your voucher Alan…give it to a baggage handler,” another wrote .

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