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Jetstar / pathetic jetstar management and contingency plans

1 Queensland, Australia
Contact information:

I had been planning a trip to go and visit my girlfriends home town near Hiroshima for about a year. I thought I would fly the cheapest airline and Jetstar was the obvious choice, I even splurged a bit and paid for starclass to japan but economy back (starclass was not really worth it unless you have over 20kg of baggage). The flight to Japan went smoothly but problems occurred on the flight back.

The flight from Osaka back to Australia was originally scheduled to depart at 8:05pm but about a 2 days before the departure date I received an email from jetstar saying that the flight time had been changed to 8:20pm, this was not a problem as it was only 20 minutes later. I arrived at the airport about 2 hours before the new departure time and checked my baggage and had a walk around before going to wait at the gate. The plane arrived about an hour late, not really a problem as I was just happy it was there. All the passengers boarded the plane and it began to taxi out onto the runway. After moving about 10 meters the plane stopped and the captain came onto the speaker saying that there was a problem. We just sat there for about half an hour until the captain said that there was a problem with the front wheel of the plane and that we all had to get off until they fixed the problem.

After getting off the plane I headed straight for the beer vending machine and then to the smoking room where I met Yuki, a Japanese girl and Leighton, a guy from New Zealand. We spent most of the next few hours there chatting and debating whether we were actually going to fly until about 1am in the morning there was an announcement that the flight had been canceled and everyone would be put up in a hotel for what remained of the night. All the passengers then went back through security to collect their bags and wait for about another hour to be assigned a taxi to take us to a hotel. While waiting in the line a woman went around asking if people had any duty free items. She would then take the items and give you a small bit of paper with a barcode (more on this later). When we got to the hotel we were each given a room and headed straight for a little convenience store inside the hotel as we were all starving hungry. We spent the next hour and a half chatting over a couple of drinks before going to bed.

The next morning I woke about 9:30 and went to see if Yuki or Leighton had heard anything. They both had received phone calls from Jetstar informing them that they had to go to Tokyo to get a flight that night. I waited about 20 minutes for my phone call from Jetstar but no call came, so I rang Jetstar. I was told that I could wait another 2 days for a flight out of Osaka or make my way to Tokyo to get a flight which departed at 7pm that night. I was obviously not happy with these options but chose to go to Tokyo. Luckily Yuki also had to go to Tokyo to get her flight and could help me (as I don't speak Japanese).

We had to take a total of 4 trains to get from the hotel in Osaka to Narita airport in Tokyo. Navigating Japanese train stations was a nightmare with heavy luggage, but we finally got to Narita airport just in time to check in for each of our flights, Yuki had to run to her gate. The trip from Osaka to Narita airport took neally 7 hours and cost me 16, 460 yen (just over $200 australian)

The upgrade debarcle
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As I had bought a starclass seat to Japan and an economy seat back, I thought that if I had enough yen left and had over the economy luggage limit that I would upgrade my return flight to starclass. When checking in at Gold Coast airport for my flight to Japan I asked the receptionist what the process was to upgrade. I was told that if I called jetstar within 24 hours of my return flight that I would be able to upgrade. So, The morning of my flight I phoned jetstar and asked if I could upgrade to starclass, the person on the other end of the phone told me that there were plenty of starclass seats still available and in order to upgrade I had to do it when checking in for my flight, no worries I thought. But when I went to check in for my return flight and asked to upgrade to starclass, I was then told that while there were starclass seats available, jetstar no longer allowed people to upgrade. Why the hell wasn't I told this before?

Duty free... not with jetstar
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While waiting for the original plane to come home from Osaka, I thought I would buy a carton of smoke as they were so cheap (about A$20 for a carton of 10 packs). But when waiting in line to go to the hotel that night after the flight was canceled, the jetstar staff went around asking if anyone had and duty free and if so it was taken off you and you were given a piece of paper with a barcode on. (I am assuming this is because you are not allowed to go outside the airport with the duty free).
The next day when I checked in at the airport in Tokyo for my new flight, I asked about my duty free. The receptionist did not have a clue, so spoke with her manager who went and made a phone call and then came back to me and told me that I would be able to pick it up when I arrived at the Gold Coast.
When my horrific journey was finally over and I had arrived at the Gold Coast I went to the jetstar baggage counter to collect my duty free cigs. The receptionist there told me that she had no clue about the duty free or the piece of paper with barcode on which I was given in Osaka and that the duty free might be on the plane but would be unloaded last, so I had to wait.
I waited about an hour until the receptionist said that it wasn't on the plane and that she had no idea where it was. She then took my name and number and a description of the duty free and said I would get a call when it arrived (she also did this with a few other people who were in the same situation).
Two weeks went be when I finally recieved a call about the duty free, It was a woman from customs and she said that my goods were available to be picked up from customs at the Gold Coast airport. This wasn't really a problem as I had to go and pick my girlfriend up a couple of days later anyway. When I went to pick up my duty free, I was in for a surprise, I had to pay A$57.84 in Tax...WTF. After telling my story to the customs officer, she said she could not believe what jetstar had done but that there was nothing she could do and that I should take the matter up with jetstar. I just paid the tax and got the hell outa there.
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After being back in Australia a couple of days I thought it would be a good idea to phone jetstar to express my complaints and try to get a refund for the train trip from Osaka to Tokyo (which I had been told I was entitled to by jetstar staff). This in itself was not a pleasant experience. After searching the jetstar site for a while, it seemed that jetstar only had one number that they can be contacted on, so I rang that number. When I rang the number I was presented with a few automated options, the standard for a large company these days I suppose. As no other options related to my call, I chose the last option which was to speak to a representative. This then diverted me back to the same options again, hmm I thought, I'll try again. This then took me back to the same options once again, What the hell? Even there phone options are broken. After selecting the option to book a flight I eventually got on to a sales rep. who was obviously based in India. After explaining the situation to the rep. I was told that someone would phone me back in the next 72 hours.

The next day I received a call from a jetstar employee and I proceeded to explain the situation to him. He gave me the standard spiel on how he understood my situation and that he would help me, he also told me that I could get a refund for the train from Osaka to Tokyo. I told him that I did not really think this was enough and he then offered me a $100 or $200 (I can't remember) voucher to fly on jetstar but that the voucher had to be used on a flight that was booked within 3 months and departed within the next 12 months. This voucher was of no real use to me as I had no plans to fly within the next 12 months, and even if I did I wouldn't be booking within 3 months. I explained this to him but was told that this was all he could do. I then asked to speak to his manager but was told there was no one above him that would speak to me on the phone and that if I wanted to take the matter further I would have to put it in writing and send it to them (he then gave me an address). The call ended there, I was not really satisfied but was happy that at least I would get a refund on the train.

Just under two weeks went by and I still had not send the information to jetstar for a refund on the train trip. I had just returned from collecting my duty free (outlined above) and thought I should phone jetstar again to explain the duty free situation. When I phoned jetstar I once again got into the stupid phone message loop but finally got on to someone who once again told me I would get a call back within 72 hours. I got a call back a couple of days later and explained the duty free situation to the rep. She told me that it was a matter I would have to take up with customs and I then told her that customs had said I had to take it up with jetstar. I also explained that I believed it was because of jetstar that any duty had to be paid at all because it was jetstar who had taken the good off me in Osaka and had failed to return them before I arrived back in Australia. She then told me that there was nothing that she could do and that if I wanted to take the matter further I would have to put it in writing and send it to jetstar at the same address given to me the first time I called. This is where the call ended.

As you can see from my long post, I am not happy. My complaint is not really at the jetstar employees, they always seemed to help me and do what they had the power to do. My problem is really with the whole management and seeming lack of communication within jetstar, even trying to make a complaint is an overly complicated process, which is no doubt intentional.

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