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Published: February 13th 2010
This morning we met Isabelle, Maureen's ~10 year old granddaughter, and her life-sized stuffed dalmation which she dragged behind her on a piece of string, and which she solemnly told us, in the cutest Irish-Aussie hybrid accent, was named "Bones". She and Maureen were preparing to go Christmas shopping. Maureen joked she would need a few drinks after the outing.
Around 10am we packed our bags and left for the Katoomba station. The train ride back to Sydney was uneventful but at the same time memorable. A deranged toddler and her parents, a young bogan couple who seemed intent on teaching the rest of the passengers bad parenting techniques, made sure our trip was lively. To tease and provoke your child until she flies into a rage, hitting you and screaming as if she were undergoing a surgical procedure without anesthesia seems like bad parenting to us. Within 20 minutes of our 2.5 hour journey, the entire train car cleared out save the deranged family. We spent the remaining 2+ hours in the adjoining car, which was packed with passengers defensively clutching iPods and earplugs.
A note to the producers of the "Supernanny" television program: Australia may be a good market.
We switched trains in Sydney and arrived at the domestic terminal an hour or so before our 4:20pm flight to Melbourne. Today we get to fly on Jetstar again. Yeay!
Jetstar is a low cost airline, based in Australia, with flights throughout Asia, Australia and New Zealand. They need some serious help with their marketing. Fortunately, we have not only the time to help but also, after having flown four flights with them, memorable first-hand experience.
Jetstar's current slogan is "Low fares, good times" but it is not particularly accurate. Mr. Bruce Buchanan, CEO, needs a new slogan, something pithy that more accurately and concisely conveys their value proposition - how they differentiate themselves and their service from the competition - for potential customers. Based on our now-extensive experience with this business, we offer the following - free of charge - to Mr. Buchanan and his executive team.
World-wide marketing slogans (even better when accompanied by a cute jingle):
- Jetstar: Creating misery since 2004.
- Jetstar: Not Happy? Who cares?.
For their flight attendant training department:
- Like, WHATEVER!
And for the HR exec team:
- Hate people? You're hired!
Our last two flights on Jetstar were pretty pathetic and so our expectations for our flight to Melbourne were low. We arrived expecting indifferent service and cramped seats, maybe even a missing bag or two. We had, however, reasoned that it was only an hour-long flight and was relatively inexpensive - so why not give them another chance?
During check-in for our short domestic flight to Melbourne, we approached the counter and cheerfully presented our passports . The well-groomed representative who, upon closer inspection, was clearly the-unhappiest-person-in-Sydney promptly ignored them, barking, "Which flight are you on?". Why, the 4:20p to Melbourne. Furious typing, reeking of disapproval and a bizarre hatred. "THERE IS NO 4:20p TO MELBOURNE!". She was seething with a strange and inexplicable but very real anger.
We exchanged worried looks. Had we booked the wrong flight? Perhaps the wrong airline? We shuffled through our papers for our confirmation. Not needed. After another 10 seconds of pounding the keyboard, anger oozing from her pores, Jetstar's finest gate agent grunted and then threw (at least as much as it's possible to throw two tiny pieces of lightweight paper) boarding passes across the counter and then turned her back on us. Clearly there were to be no more questions or we would risk our bags ending up in the middle of the outback. We walked away, bewildered. The whole episode was just so strange. Our boarding passes indicated that our flight was, indeed, at 4:20pm but after making our way through security, we realized that the flight was delayed until 5:55pm. If the gate agent had been a human being she might have tried to put us on an earlier flight....but alas no dice.
Until today, everyone in Australia had been wonderfully nice to us and generally happy (even when not intoxicated). This woman was clearly in some miserable hell of her own. We reflected briefly that the holiday season is difficult for many people and it's often accompanied by a high rate of suicides. We decided that the less we knew about her situation, the better, and moved on to set up camp at our gate and secure some lattes.
Around 7:30pm, we arrived in a cold, wet Melbourne. After hearing much about Australia's "second city", we are excited to see it for ourselves.
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