Visual Diary: The Hamilton Island edition....sort of
7:30am - in the thick of an unruly, un-organised and very large queue to check in for our flight with Jetstar
Sorry folks, that's as far as I got with the visual diary for our trip up to Hamilton Island. You see we had some issues getting onto our flight.
Jetstar are well known for their slightly ridiculous policy of cutting off check-in 30 minutes prior to a flight's departure. They're also known for canceling flights at the last minute and rescheduling some other random time in the future, but that's a whole 'nother story. On Saturday morning we arrived for our 8:30am flight direct to Hamilton Island at 7:30am. The queues for every other airline's check were nice and orderly, while the Jetstar queue was a throbbing throng of people. A complete debacle.
I was with Andrew and Debbie, and between the three of us we had one piece of luggage to be checked in. None of us had checked in online because we wanted to try and get seats together (Debbie had booked her flight separate to us), however the 'baggage drop only' queues (of which there where four compared to two for check-in) seemed to be moving fairly quickly so Debbie and I went to check in via the Kiosks while Andrew stayed in line with the baggage. Debbie managed to check in, however the Kiosk wouldn't accept my booking reference number. So I asked someone from Jetstar for help but she couldn't get it working either and said I'd just have to queue up. While in line, we noticed that a number of other people were having trouble getting the Kiosks working. The queue got bigger and and edgier.
Debbie took her carry on luggage and went off to find food, meanwhile it became clear that Andrew and I were not going to check in before the cut-off time. Eventually a Jetstar rep asked for everyone going to Hamilton Island to form a separate queue right, smack bang in the middle of the crowd. We joined a group of about 20 people in this line which was totally separate to every one else, in fact we were cordoned off from the passengers in all the lines. It was very obvious that we had been put there for a specific reason.
This queue widdled to down to us, and one other couple in front. Nothing happened for a while, we watched other people checking in. We weren't sure what was happening. The lady who had put us in this queue had disappeared. We noticed a different lady walking alongside the very edge of the entire crowd, calling out for anyone else who might be traveling to Hamilton Island. She didn't glance at us and we assumed she was double checking if anyone else needed to join the queue we had been specifically placed in.
A moment or two later she walked up to the four of us and asked if we were flying to Sydney. No, we said, Hamilton Island.
Her response was blunt, "Too bad, check in for that flight has closed."
She said it in such a bitchy manner, assuming we were in the wrong without even asking what we were doing in a separate line, with no one behind or around us, cordoned off from the rest of the people trying to check in for their flights. The couple in front of us immediately got riled up and took argument with the lady, who refused to listen to what any of us were saying. I got fired up to. She maintained that we shouldn't have left our check-in until five minutes before the cut off time. Of course, none of us had, but she couldn't have cared less.
It seemed the original lady who had put us in this line before going for her tea brake, hadn't communicated why we were in this line to the lady who had taken over for her.
Eventually she took all four of us to a counter, still telling us off for not checking in earlier. The couple in front of us had their tickets already and only needed to drop off their luggage. They got on. However, because Andrew and I hadn't been able to check in via the Kiosk and therefore didn't have tickets Miss Bitchface Jetstar Representative and her Evil Cohort at the check-in counter literally said, yet again, this was our fault for not checking in earlier. I tried to explain that the Kiosk wouldn't accept my reference number but both these tarts REFUSED to listen to me and insisted that I had obviously tried to check in via the Kiosk after the cut-off time. I even found the young Jetstar girl who had helped me at the kiosk, to prove that I had tried to check in at 7:30, but she had the personality of a gnat and did little for our cause.
Meanwhile, Debbie is on the plane, headed for Hamilton Island without us, and we've got steam coming out of our ears. The whole situation was completely ridiculous and Jetstar's refusal to hear our side of the story was just plain rude. Just because Jetstar is the 'cheap' airline, doesn't mean they should treat their customers like turds.
In the end, after dealing with another Jetstar girl who was equally as flipping rude, we had to buy last-minute tickets at an exorbitant price for a Qantas flight up to Brisbane where we could catch Jetstar's only other flight that day to Hamilton Island. And I tell you what, EVERYONE we had contact with at Qantas were 1000 times more polite and professional than the Jetstar staff.
Jetstar, if you have PR minions scouring the Internet to track what people are saying about your brand - and speaking as someone that works in PR I'm sure you do - then I say: FUCK YOU.