EXCLUSIVE: Qantas in flight staff claim that the Australian airline is about to dump it’s “acclaimed” on demand entertainment system after thousands of customers are being denied access to movies and other programs because of constant technical problems with the award winning entertainment system.
Qantas onboard staff claim that thousands of customers have been affected by the entertainment system failure and that a new system could cost the airline millions. currently Qantas is subject to a buyout by Airline Partners Australia, a consortium led by Macquarie Bank, which has bid $11 billion for the carrier.
The entertainment system problem problem is so bad that in some cases customers on 20 hour flights between New York and Sydney are having to go without any form of entertainment and in some cases even a light to read because the switch for the light is built into the entertainment controller.
For Australians flying out of Australia to the USA return, the problem is compounded by the fact that they are being forced to pay up to $1,000 more than passengers who book their tickets between the USA and Australia.
|US fare LA to Sydney + 3 domestic flights|
Currently Qantas is offering US customers a return trip to Australia for $1,099 (A$1,391). This also includes up to 3 domestic stopovers worth at least another $1,000 in value. The discounted price to Australians on the Qantas web site for a Sydney LA return flight without 3 domestic stopovers is $2,388 going up to more than $3,000 per round trip.
On a recent flight between Los Angeles and Sydney hundreds of Qantas passengers were unable to access the Rockwell Collins developed entertainment system despite repeated attempts by onboard staff to reboot both the hardware and the software. A senior Qantas cabin crew member on the flight told SHN “The problem is that we are at the front line when the entertainment system fails and it is failing a lot so we have to cop the abuse. We have been told that Qantas is about to replace the system because of the high level of failure. This is not a one off. Thousands have been affected on the Pacific route alone.” They said.
|Australian fare Sydney/LA|
Kannyn MacRae Marketing Director at Belkin said “On my flight to the CES show between Sydney and LA I had no entertainment. Luckily I had recorded several movies and shows to my notebook so I watched them in place of the onboard entertainment system”.
My Sister who had visited from the USA for Xmas also had problems on another Qantas flight when the Qantas airlines entertainment system failed. I wrote to Qantas about the issue and all they did was write a letter of apology and said I hope we don’t lose you as customer”.
During my flight between LA and Sydney this week the entertainment system failed 3 times while my wife had no entertainment system at all in her seat. She also had no light to read because of the failure of the entertainment hand piece that included the light switch. When one could access the system ,movie images bitmapped and the Channel Nine News was not available at all. Qantas on board staff offered one days free parking at Sydney Airport as compensation.
Qantas selected the Rockwell Collins’ Total Entertainment System 5 years ago to provide passengers with access to in-flight programming selections on their fleet of international long haul Boeing 747-400’s. Rockwell Collins said at the time “The Total Entertainment System selected by Qantas offers a diverse range of entertainment options including access to intranet web sites and games, ” said Neal Keating, vice president and general manager of Rockwell Collins Passenger Systems.
“These features will be on-demand for all classes and accessed through seatback video screens in economy class, and with larger individual screens for first and business class passengers.”
Qantas has ordered the system with provisions for future installation of Audio/Video On Demand, which streams the audio and video directly to individual seats, allowing passengers complete control of video programming, and for installation of passenger email capabilities.
For the last 2 years Qantas has won an award for its dud in-flight entertainment system from the World Airline Entertainment Association (WAEA).
A Qantas spokesperson said “We are not aware of any problems with our entertainment system but we will investigate and get back to you”. To-date we have not heard back from them.
In another statement Qantas said of its Entertainment system “The high priority Qantas places on this area of customer satisfaction is reflected in the fact the airline has received the award for Best Overall In-flight Entertainment in four of the last five years,” said John Borghetti, executive general manager of the airline.
SHN has also learnt that Qantas is set to test “AeroMobile” a mobile phone connectivity solution that lets passengers send and receive e-mails, SMS (short message service) messages and phone calls in-flight using their GSM mobile phones or personal electronic devices such as Blackberry phones.
If you have experienced problems on board a Qantas flight we would like to hear from you. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org