Monday, 27 October 2014

How Jetstar launched a special offer and alienated thousands of travellers

It seemed a simple enough idea from Jetstar's point of view. Counter an introductory offer of a $99 each way flight between Melbourne and Denpasar in Bali from AirAsia with an even cheaper offer of flights from $88. 

At around 5pm on Monday night, Jetstar sent emails to those in its database offering the $88 flights from Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane and Darwin to Denpasar on a range of dates in 2015. The trick was you had to book within 30 hours. 

When you clicked onto the site, you discovered that return flights from Bali were available for $28. Great! 
The internet offer that sparked chaos


This was Jetstar so would-be-travellers knew they would be up for extras like checked luggage, but it was still a great deal and an offer that would surely generate much goodwill for Jetstar, which has been known to have its critics. 

Except for the fact that Jetstar had not thought through the logistics. Its website was not able to handle the volume of traffic that the offer engendered. 

I spent from 5.30pm until midnight trying to book a cheap holiday for my wife and myself. 

The website simply didn't work; either stalling, timing out or simply offering an error message.

And I wasn't alone. Right across Australia thousands of other potential customers were having the same problems; and taking to social media to express their anger and frustration. 

Twitter was hit by an avalanche of vitriol; Jetstar's Facebook page was swamped with abuse (over 10,000 complaints at the latest count). 

What had been a positive publicity opportunity turned into a heap of dung. I went ahead and booked the slightly more expensive flights on AirAsia, whose website worked perfectly.

News.com reported that "a Jetstar spokesman said the system had been placed 'under stress' by the fare offer but was unable to provide further details of the crash." 

But don't expect to read too much about this debacle in the mainstream media. Remember that Jetstar are major advertisers and MSM media will not want to upset them too much in case it damages their revenue stream. 

    

    

1 comment:

  1. What a horrible organisation Jetstar is.

    My wife, three kids and I recently holidayed in Bali, a flight booked through Qantas. Of course we were put on Jetstar flights given Qantas no loner operates a service to Bali. Off we go to Bali armed with credit cards to purchase drinking water onboard.

    We enjoyed a wonderful holiday cut short only by the need to get back to school and work respetcively. We arrived at Denpasar Airport at a tick after 11.00 for a 14.30 flight home. We clear the required security in order to proceed to check in where a young couple advise us the flight has been cancelled. Impossible I thought. We had not received any notification. No email. No phone call and surely there would be staff on hand to convey this relatively important piece of information? The staff make their way to the check in booths at around 11.25 but refuse to 'open' check in or discuss the rumour that the flight has been cancelled until 11.45 when we are called forward and advised the flight has indeed been cancelled and the next available seats will be in 5 days time! After much protestation, we were offered a 18.30 flight to Perth, a five hour stay in a motel then a morning flight to Melbourne to arrive 30 hours after we began our journey.

    I understand 'these things happen' and frankly, had we have been advised of the cancellation, we would have stayed in Bali and made alternate arrangements from the hotel rather than cart 3 kids around for 30 hours to get home. Their excuse "we didn't have your phone number because you booked with Qantas". What a joke. Sadly for others, their flight over from Melbourne was also cancelled meaning the journey over was of a similar length.

    As a frequent flyer, I have had two other very unpleasant horror stories when luggage was lost and delayed for many days. Yep, you guessed it, Jetstar. They may have $99 or $88 or $10 fares but there's an old adage about peanuts and monkeys....

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