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The Seat In Front

Flying for three hours from Melbourne to Auckland with the seat that is meant to be in front of you in your lap is frustrating. When the guy in the middle seat decides to revolt by spreading out as much as he can – all while you’ve got a minimum of three hours work to get done is maddening. So went my last trip with Qantas.

Now, these aren’t cheap tickets but these are the cheapest of seats. Qantas is sufferning from the same brand malaise most airlines are. Their brand is entirely inconsistent with their service promise. In an age of new planes, lay flat beds, and laptop friendly leg-room, most are still flying ageing birds sized well for hobbits, but less so for humans.

Their advertising showing the very best they have to offer sets the bar so high above what they actually do offer for the most part, that you are left wondering how you ever bought the promise. Stupid is as stupid does.

There are plenty of solutions. Parked next to the Qantas “mini” packed to the hilt with wary travelers sat a cavernous Emirates Airbus – flying to the same place. Why not code-share more agressively – wasn’t that the point of the partnership?

This happens too often. What is needed is more transparency into the level and gade of service offered. Perhaps a Gold, Silver, Brown rating system so that we can all clearly comprehend what we are buying? Or, perhaps this is better solved by an iPhone app from an independent third party? How about a “not work or business friendly” caution before you book or get on the plane.

Either way, the airline industry needs to embrace transparency and close the gap between it’s presented brand and service delivered.

Back on Air New Zealand today the leg room was good enough to allow me three hours of solid work, and the service friendly. Gettting the basics right and delivering on the brand promise isn’t so hard.

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