Jetstar and the hassles of online airfare bookings

As a travel editor, I have been a keen supporter of budget airlines Virgin and Jetstar since they started. Travellers need the “budget” option, and Qantas obviously needs the ‘budget traveller’ revenue that its subsidiary, Jetstar, brings in.  We all need the competitive pricing that Virgin has forced on the Australian airfares market.

So, I eagerly turned to Jetstar for a Darwin-to-Melbourne airfare this week. But what a pain it has been. The fault is with technology, not pricing, services, or human error. Bloody online bookings!

Managers and executives of big businesses, such as airlines, have happily introduced digital technology to raze their staff numbers (and raise their own salaries and bonuses commensurately), but efficiency hasn’t increased accordingly; everyone seems to have an online booking grievance.

jetstar logo

I tried to book and pay for my Jetstar airfare four times on my mobile phone. Each attempt took about 10 minutes (with numerous seat upgrade options/meal options/entertainment options/accommodation options/car rental options/insurance options – but no option to see the options!) and got to the final processing of my credit card details, only to chuck a wobbly and tell me the connection was lost, so please start all over again. It’s close to Xmas, I could see the available  flight seats being gobbled up each time I tried, and further delays would inevitably result in much more expensive flight options. I was fast approaching the point of frustration where my mobile phone would become airborne and hurtle to the destination faster than the Jetstar Airbus A320…

So, later I tried my luck at booking the airfare on my home laptop. By the third attempt, each time to be told of a “duplicate booking error”, I decided best to wait until next morning and do it the old fashioned way…I would call Jetstar on the phone, punch a few numbers on the keypad in reply to a recorded voice, and eventually book the airfare with a human being in a foreign country…

To my joy, I awoke to find an email from Jetstar confirming my payment and flight itinerary. Ahhhh, time to relax; to my chagrin, two days later I log into my online bank account to find that Jetstar had charged me for TWO airfares. My reaction was probably audible even to those afore mentioned humans in the Jetstar call centre in the foreign country.

Anyway, a 30-minute phone call to several recorded voices and two very helpful humans in a foreign country call centre appears to have fixed the problem; the second airfare has been cancelled and an assurance made that the money will be refunded into my online bank account.

However, it will take up to 20 working days before I will know that it has occurred …




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