When the staff go bad
15.12.2011 - 16.12.2011 0 °C
Here's the text of an email I wrote to Qantas customer care (I've replaced a name with an X) after they asked me to describe my recent experience with them.
Their reply follows.
Dear Ms Morris,
My "recent experience" was abuse and bullying by Qantas staff on a long haul flight, which left my two year old in tears, on two separate occasions.
My crime was to take my little girl into the toilet immediately in front of our seats and sit her next to the sink so she could play with a cup in a basin of water. She enjoys doing that and she was already extremely tired and distressed as the flight had been delayed for 4 hours, and the take off from Bangkok had hurt her ears and sinuses. There is nothing to do for children on a Qantas long haul flight. We had the door open the whole time, so we could vacate immediately if someone wanted to use the toilet, and so that the engaged light would not come on in the cabin.
There was no sign that I could see saying business class passengers were barred from the toilet. It was adjacent to business class, with a galley, and with the entrance to the plane, between it and first class. There were no passengers in sight.
A steward came and very brusquely told me to get out of the toilet as it was for first class passengers only. I said I hadn’t realised that but that I was just playing with my daughter and would of course vacate as soon as anyone wanted to use it. He came back instantly and said first class passengers would complain and that he did not "need that". He startled my daughter so much that she slipped and caught her elbow on the edge of the sink, even though I was holding her by the waist. She began crying which made no difference to this steward. I came out of the toilet and said I hoped he was happy now that he’d caused a little girl to be in tears.
He said: “Oh f*'` off”
I said I did not want to be spoken to like that and he said: “Get out of my face”.
I said I wanted to make a complaint and asked his name. He refused point blank to give me his name despite my asking him several times. I said he was a big man and he must be very proud of himself. He said: “go complain to the boss”. I told him to go and get “the boss” and he said: “Are you serious?”, as if I was a total idiot making something out of nothing. I said I was serious and he left, with the demeanour of a man spoiling for a fight in a bar.
I sat down to console my daughter.
A little later the boss appeared and immediately, without asking what had happened, went into forceful and strenuous denials about what his colleague had said.
“I’ve known him 20 years and he would not use that kind of language”.
I said that he had used that language and this man, the boss, then stood inches from my face and said: “I choose not to believe you” over and over again. I was still carrying my two year old.
I said: “Where is he?” and went into the galley to find the original culprit. I said he was a gutless coward to lie to his boss and send him out to bat for him on that basis. That what he had said was complete BS and he knew it. He shouted something I didn’t hear properly and his boss put his arm across to restrain him and told him to keep his voice down.
I went back to my seat. Later the boss found me again, and again he started his denials, asking me why his colleague would say such a thing? By now my daughter was crying again. I said I was terminating the conversation, that I wanted their names and that I am not a liar.
This subsequent harrassment and bullying, trying to get me to withdraw my complaint and insisting that I was a liar, was as aggravating, if not more so, than the original abuse.
Several hours later the boss appeared with a piece of paper carrying the name X. I took that to be the name of the steward who had sworn at me.
When we disembarked at Heathrow I saw X on the way out. As I pointed him out to my wife, who had been upset that our daughter had been in tears, he smirked and shook his head at me, tutting, as if he held me in contempt.
The flight was QF1 and the date of departure from Sydney was Dec 15th, the offending staff were on the Bangkok-London leg.
Yours, Alan Davies
Dear Mr Davies
I refer to your email dated 19 December 2011 and your allegation of harassment and bullying by Qantas staff. I apologise that we were not able to respond in detail more quickly but since Qantas takes this allegation very seriously we have taken the time to enquire into the matter with the relevant staff. Our staff concur that the situation arose as a result of your use of the First Class facilities to entertain your child and your refusal to vacate the facilities when first asked to do so.
While Qantas values your custom on the many flights you have taken with us over 20 years, we hope that you would understand that our First Class customers have a reasonable expectation that we will ensure the facilities they have paid for are available exclusively for them.
We are sorry that you felt you were not treated fairly but having spoken to the staff concerned we do not propose to take this further.
Yours sincerely Fiona Morris
Executive Relations Manager Customer Care Qantas Airways Ltd Address: QCE3 203 Coward Street | Mascot NSW 2020