Monday, July 28, 2008

Hands up whoever intends to fly Qantas ever again

A couple of weeks ago I made a vow never to fly Qantas again (an empty threat or at most symbolic, as I don't travel very often; I don't have any shares in Qantas either, but if I did I would at this point have sold them) when it was revealed that after a ten-year ban, Qantas were once again selling duty-free cigarettes in-flight. Someone at pointed out how swiftly this development took place after a former tobacco company executive was appointed to the Qantas board. What was the defence of this indefensible development put forward by Qantas? "Customer demand." Which I assume translates as "We'll make more money."

Now they seem to have moved on to "Black is white, and two and two make five."

The reason the pilots (= heroes) of the Qantas plane that started to fall to bits in mid-air over the ocean the other day had to get the plane down to 10,000 feet was so that the passengers could breathe. One reason the passengers couldn't breathe was that, according to passenger reports, some of the oxygen masks weren't working properly. One passenger reported that the mask didn't drop down the way it was supposed to, another that the elastic on his mask was perished. There were stories from passengers of people having to share their masks with two or three other people, and of whole rows of seats where the masks weren't working.

Last night on the ABC TV news they showed interviews with several different passengers from the flight vividly describing their difficulties with the oxygen masks. And then the camera returned to the admirably straight face of the newsreader, who said 'Qantas says there is no evidence that there was anything wrong with the oxygen masks.'

No evidence? What do they call the first-hand eyewitness (and lung-witness) testimony of the victims, chopped liver? How much "evidence" do they need?


TimT said...

Maybe they wanted the passengers to use the duty-free cigarettes as an alternative to oxygen masks...

M-H said...

There are even pics taken on board, showing rows which have no masks. Cynical bastards.

zoot said...

I'm waiting for the straight faced assurance that, "Qantas would never put profits ahead of passenger safety." A pox on 'em.

lucy tartan said...

Think I will avoid Qantas in future, yes - I've got no real desire to get into that whole plane crash cannibalism scene on my next holiday.

HANNAH'S DAD said...

No need to worry if you miss out on an oxygen mask though. After all...

Airlines all over the world are being warned to check to make sure there's
actually oxygen in their aircraft oxygen systems after an embarrassing
mix-up by Qantas Airlines at Melbourne International Airport. For ten
months, crews have been filling airliner oxygen systems from a nitrogen cart
that's supposed to be used to fill tires. The mistake went unnoticed until a
couple of weeks ago when an observant aircraft engineer spotted service
workers using the cart. "He was walking around the plane and asked what they
were doing. When they said they were topping up the oxygen, he said, 'No
you're not, that's a nitrogen cart,'" an unnamed source told *The Age*.
(article from The Age, more extensive article at

Caroline said...

Lucky for Qantas, Manila is where it is.

I imagine inhaling nitrogen is not very good for you.

Don't know what can be done about them, but Mr Dixon leaving (with undoubtedly a ginormous bonus),is probably a start.

Anonymous said...

My Person Who Used to Work in Qantas Maintanence informs me that oxygen masks are worth about 20c, and are primarily used to give passengers something to focus on while the plane gets down to a point where people will be able to breathe, they are also designed to work for about as long as that descent takes. So regardless of the state of the masks, or what they filled the tanks with, the plane would have started coming down. Which is not to say that it makes anyone feel good to see stuff not working properly on a plane, or that selling fags is a good idea.

Pavlov's Cat said...

TimT, I think ur doin it rong ...

Nitrogen? Fark.

Innercitygarden -- oh yes, I understood that they'd have to lose altitude anyway -- I've always assumed that the oxygen masks are a short-term solution to stop people passing out and dying within minutes while the pilots are coping. Apparently several children turned blue, adults swooned in their seats, etc.

Anonymous said...

Caroline, the air you breathe every day is about 80% nitrogen, so it's not particularly dangerous as long as there's some oxygen mixed in with it. If they were just topped up with nitrogen, no problem, but if they were emptied first, it'd be serious.

As to the lack of evidence for problems with the oxygen masks, well, that was only anectdotal ...


Kate H said...

Hate to be the contrarian voice (where is Fyodor anyway), but QANTAS still has the a pretty good safety record, despite all this recent stuff. (And yes, this recent stuff is pretty major and needs to be addressed.)

But if you've ever flown Vietnamese air, or Delta airways, or South African air, you do come to appreciate a bit of QANTAS-ness now and again.

Of course, if I had my druthers I'd fly Singapore every time, but they're way more expensive and also owned by a repressive anti-democratic government and also their hosties are suspiciously gorgeous. I think they clone them in a secret factory somewhere.

Peter said...

Much though I'm sorely pissed off with Qantas after the last two flights I took (obliged to, FourPlay gig straight after o/s holiday d'oh), both of which were quite appallingly late - and much though I agree about selling cigarettes on board! - the problem is that, what's the alternative?

Virgin? My long legs say "Please no!" and so does their history of refusing to let my bandmembers take their violins/violas on board sometimes, among other things.
Jetstar? Apart from their being owned by Qantas, they're just shit, and my long legs say "don't you dare".

Not that my long legs end up having much say. Basically if you're obliged to fly around Australia, you've got very little choice, especially if you're booking late in the piece (unless you're willing to pay hundreds of bucks).

ashleigh said...

Qantas still have not killed anybody after being in business for a very very very long time.

No other airline in the world comes close. Don't mention virgin though. Too young to really have a track record.

And... seeing as an oxygen bottle was kinda missing presumed exploded (fault TBD) you would EXPECT some of the oxygen masks not to work.