Sorry, Qantas…

…but I think I am done now.

I am fairly sure that you will miss my paltry spend not at all, but just in case you would like to know why, I thought I might spell it out. And this begins with a caveat: your staff are awesome. Lovely, helpful, awesome people who are more and more embarrassed by the shortcomings of their brand.

I fly Qantas in general because it is a local business, it has a good history of taking an ethical stand, and it has been, in general, pretty reasonable. For the extra we pay for tickets, I *do* expect a better offering. And this is where it is getting iffy.

The special meals are generally pretty terrible – even if they do actually adhere to the needed dietary proscriptions. So, I book ‘Asian Vego’ because as a gluten intolerant, lactose intolerant, vego diabetc (I KNOW – I am hopeless, but in my defence, I did not specifically request any of those restrictions other than the vego bit; I just have a screwy body.) that is the best option. I know. I have tried them ALL. And the diabetic offering is horrifying in general. Although I only tried it twice, there was more refined sugar and fructose in that box than I consume in a month. And it may have changed. I am simply not willing to take my life into my hands to check it out.

So – Asian Vego. No probs. Breakfast? Yoghurt (sweetened) and some kind of muffin bar? With chocolate bits? And an apple. That’s not even close. On a flight over 2 hours, trapped with no food and having to manage insulin levels. Seems fun, no? And if I were Asian? This would NOT have been close. Dinner on the flight back was… ok. The curry was…. kinda curry-esque? But loads of sweetness, and somehow simultaneously had undercooked noodles and overcooked, mushy veg. That is a particular achievement.

And the booze. In general, the suppliers and the panel selecting the wines for Qantas have been reasonable. They have to fit a price point, and deliver in an atmosphere which actively dulls the senses. Pretty much, a decent job has been done by all and sundry – especially in terms of securing vino from many smaller wineries. Go Qantas.

Not yesterday. Yesterday I appeared to be on a flight sponsored by one of the global behemoths. The wine was terrible. Like, quite obviously created in a lab – added concentrate, tannin AND acid. It was disjointed and generically bad. And no identifying region to be seen. Which is fine – they can probably supply at a price point which makes those deals very attractive for buyers who fully understand that those drinking wine on the flights probably, for the most part, do not care so long as it is wet and alcoholic.

Except being charged $6 for the privilege. If you are going to charge that kinda money, when your tickets are already WAY more pricey than the competition, we expect the bonuses: edible food, as ordered; drinks that are free (or, actually, you know: INCLUDED), within reason. And at LEAST make the wine actually drinkable. No tea or coffee was offered. I am not even sure there was any on the trolley. Water, however, was plentiful. So gold star for keeping the peeps hydrated.

No screens in seats. Just download the app plus a handy strap to hold your tablet (What? We didn’t tell you you should bring your own screen? Ooops. Our bad.) or the dinky tiny little screen way up ahead with some generic news+US sitcom+cartoon jumble. Reupholstered seats, so it does not LOOK like the older model it is, though. So it looked reasonable.

So, my question to you, Qantas, is this: what does the extra spend buy me? Meals? You either can’t feed me or the edible versions have deteriorated significantly in quality. And yes – I get that my dietary reqs make me a difficult proposition. But I spent much of the flight to Syd making notes on options (at a reasonable pricepoint) fitting in to a standard offering. Gluten free wraps. Rice paper rolls (PLEASE MAKE THIS HAPPEN). Roti. Breakfast quiche/frittata/tortilla. All of these can be done as vego or meat-lover versions, in order to keep costs down. Miso soup cups – filled from the urn, sorted. I do not know where to even start with the curry noodles – maybe look at a better protein/carb match so they are actually warm and not disintegrating? And chill on the sugars. If I can taste that much sugar in an environment wherein the senses are dulled? I would kinda like to know how much is actually in there. Because my blood sugars upon return to my house had skyrocketed.

It does not buy me the pretty screens on other routes – presumably more popular and/or longer. The food is clearly an issue – and one which had an ongoing effect on my health management for the ensuing day after each flight. So how is your offering better than that of, say, Virgin? I KNOW when I cannot eat their food, so I schedule a meal around it. I know that no food or beverages are supplied without a cost, so I can expect it. I expect basic entertainment, so I bring my own. The planes are newer, cleaner and the staff are just as sparky and helpful. And the flights are WAY cheaper.

Most people have a degree of loyalty with airlines. If the price is not significantly out, they will happily pay a little extra to fly on the recognised home-town brand. You know why? Because, in general, they have flown that airline domestically and have an expectation. Domestic is kinda the trial size of the long-haul-international. Dear Qantas: if your trial-size is failing this badly, why would I ever fly with you to, say, Rome? When being on a flight for that long without suitable sustenance could become a health issue, rapidly? When the comforts I used to expect are stripped away and the costs remain static, or go up? When you charge more, and deliver less?

Sorry Qantas. I wish it were not this way, but I am kinda done.