After 40-minute wait for her bag, Kaye asks whether her gold frequent flyer status is really worth it.
I’m at carousel five at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport, after a long flight. I’m surrounded by happy fellow travellers who have spotted their bags and are grabbing them and heading straight through customs. But not me. I am hypnotised by the rotation of said carousel with dozens of similar-sized Samsonites. But never mine. So, where is it?
I paid a full economy fare and then what seemed like a million points for a business-class upgrade. The flight was divine. But the pink priority tag on my suitcase seemed to mean absolutely nothing to the baggage handlers, as my bag came out last – after a full 40 minutes’ wait. This didn’t happen once, but twice, as I have flown QF10 from London via Dubai to Melbourne two times in recent months.
Now don’t get me wrong. I am normally a very happy Qantas frequent flyer. But I am now questioning the value of my gold status, and what it really delivers for all those airfares I’ve had to purchase. On the first QF10 flight, in October last year, I paid for an economy fare and requested an upgrade using points. I didn’t get one, and that’s fine – the plane was full so no big deal. But as a gold frequent flyer, I did enjoy my lounge access and the ability to check in at the business-class counter, where all bags are tagged as priority. The flight home in a full A380 was tiring, but most long-haul travel in economy is nowadays. But to then arrive and find my bag was missing in action, while every other ‘non’ priority bag merrily rolled along the carousel, was pretty annoying.
A slow learner, I booked QF10 again for a January London-Dubai-Melbourne trip, and this time the points were taken in return for a business-class seat. Divine! Great food, cabin service and a really relaxing journey. So I was in good spirits on arrival in Melbourne. Customs was a bunfight, but that’s not Qantas’ fault. By the time I reached the luggage carousel, a sea of bags was pouring out. Where was mine with its distinctive green-checked ribbon? Nowhere to be seen. And my fellow business class travellers seemed to be having the same experience. Until a good 35 minutes later, the last few bags sputtered out, all with pink priority tags. Was this some kind of sick joke, we wondered? Some kind of revenge on those at the pointier end, by unseen baggage handlers who put all priority bags back in the hold?
So I decided to go to the source and ask Qantas why this happened. And here is its reply, quoted in full. I am not sure if it adds anything, but you can judge for yourself:
Priority baggage: While we will always do our best to make sure bags tagged priority are delivered first on the carousel, this can change due to operational requirements. Priority bags are collected together and then placed in the same container on the aircraft, which is usually placed closest to the cargo door hold of the aircraft.
And a tip for your readers, please try and avoid buying a black suitcase, or if you do, make sure you put something on it like a coloured ribbon, etc., so it can be identified by our baggage handlers, it will speed up the process of finding your bag and getting the aircraft away on time!
What’s your experience? Are you, too, a victim of a priority tag that translates to ‘deliver last’? Is your silver or gold frequent flyer status really worth the cost?
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