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Edition 377 – Dear Virgin Australia, You’re Sacked!

Dear Virgin Australia,
We’ve supported you, through thick and thin, for 20 years. We watched you disrupt the market, offer a better service and ensure there was true competition in the Australian airline industry. Individually, as a couple and as a family, we’ve flown multiple times with you over those two decades, including on the Los Angeles leg you once operated, more than a dozen times.

When you recommended we fly your code-share partners throughout the world, including Delta Airlines (when you liked them), Virgin America (when they shared your branding) and Singapore Airlines, we did so, to support your ongoing presence in the Australian market, to keep Qantas honest and to prove there was a better way to fly.

We so believed in your product that we bought shares in the company at a time when only 10% of your stock was listed, the other 90% held by an odd marriage of multiple partners. To be a part owner of an airline was our acknowledgement that this was a relationship that we truly believed in.

As things became bumpy through the late 2010’s, we continued to support you, including talking to others we ran into as to why we flew Virgin Australia. We were advocates for your brand and your story. For us, flying Virgin Australia was like owning a Ford – it was just something we always did in our home.

But, for no longer! We’re done. In actual fact, you’re sacked!

Back in early March, I told the world how disappointed I was that you left a bunch of travellers stranded at Perth Airport at 10.30pm on a Friday night due to a flight cancellation –

Your staff told 150 of us that we needed to find our own accommodation 90 minutes before midnight, only to be back in the airport on a Saturday morning at 6.00am. Some people found accommodation. Others couldn’t afford to given your measly reimbursement limit just doesn’t cut it on a Friday night in the capital of the Golden West. Parents with young children had to sort out whatever they could. Me, well, for the first time in my life, I slept inside an airport terminal. By the time I finally arrived home, my door to door commute was 17 hours – 2 hour short of what it used to be on that Los Angeles leg.

Now, you’ve done it again. You’ve cancelled another flight and bumped me forward this time. Thankfully I’m OCD for arriving at the airport early. However, to give people notice of a flight cancellation with only 2 hours to leave home, drive to the airport, park the car, check in, clear security and then run to the gate when you live 50km from the airport, in Sydney traffic, is simply disrespectful.

Sure, you put me on another flight. Not in the same seat and not in the same class, but as far as you’re concerned, you met your obligations to me as a provider of an airline ticket. However, your ongoing excuse of “engineering issues” has me, and more than a bunch of others I’ve spoken to, concerned that maybe, under the Bain Capital ownership, your aircraft maintenance is just not up to scratch. There’s an awful lot of cancellations using that excuse, which says to me that you’re flying aircraft that just aren’t right! Or, maybe, you’re cancelling flights because you’d otherwise not fly half-full planes, which is lying to your customers as to the real reason for a flight cancellation. Take your pick, but either isn’t good.

So, Virgin Australia, our love affair is over and you’re sacked. I’ll be trying Qantas and REX to see which of those will be able to better look after me next time I choose to fly. Your hollow response of “we apologise for any inconvenience” sounds too well worn these days, to the point that flying Virgin Australia means expecting to be inconvenienced, instead of expecting to depart and arrive on time.

Yours faithfully,

Dean Robinson

This Week’s Tip

At some point, if you keep letting your customer down, they’ll venture elsewhere and, possibly, will never be back.