Budget airline Jetstar has ranked stone cold last in a survey of international airlines, losing out to more than 70 rivals from eight different countries.
The budget carrier and Qantas subsidiary was given among the lowest scored by passengers for flight delays, plane space and comfort, and its onboard staff.
The new survey showed local airlines sliding in a range of public satisfaction measures, with Jetstar deemed the world’s worst carrier, while premium carriers Qantas and Virgin Australia also came off badly when compared with their international counterparts.
In an embarrassing result for the budget carrier, Jetstar was ranked 73rd for overall passenger satisfaction, giving it the lowest possible rating of one star.
In fact, according to one survey’s benchmarks, Australia’s best airline is not even Australian.
In a move that will yet again infuriate our trans-Tasman cousins, Air New Zealand was hilariously named as Australia’s most reputable company in a separate report earlier this week.
The Australian Corporate Reputation Index ranked the Kiwi carrier the most reputable company overall, with Qantas and Virgin taking out fifth and 16th spots, respectively.
And while Australia’s lacklustre airlines may come as a surprise to some, the differences between those in Australia and the world’s best are painfully obvious, according to Central Queensland University head of aviation Ronald Bishop.
“Air New Zealand has figured out what Australian airlines haven’t, they concentrate on being on time and don’t compensate with sub-par service,” Mr Bishop told The New Daily.
“Air New Zealand are finding the differences and nailing it, they don’t schedule airplanes right to the tee, and that leeway gives them some ‘squish’ time.
“They simply under-promise and over-deliver, and combined with little extras, for example, free headphones or snacks, it gives the perception to the customer they are going above and beyond the expectations set by domestic airlines.”
The airline and airport survey released by consumer advocacy group CHOICE, which collected 11,273 responses, found passengers rated Jetstar lowest or equal lowest in six out of nine categories, including punctuality.
It found more than one in three Jetstar passengers (37.2 per cent) had experienced flight delays with the airline – which on average were almost four hours long.
Jetstar was ranked worst of all the 73 airlines under review for onboard comfort (4.51 out of 10), check-in process (6.43), boarding (6.13), staff satisfaction (6.64), meals (2.32) and punctuality (6.04).
Qantas was the highest-ranking Australian carrier, at 36th in the world, with Virgin Australia next best at 51st.
The survey found Emirates to be the best airline in the world, with an overall satisfaction rating of 8.29.
‘Clean up your act Jetstar’
Jetstar’s poor rating has reinforced calls for Qantas’ low-cost carrier to “clean up its act”, according to CHOICE head of media Tom Godfrey.
“It’s not surprising Jetstar rated so poorly given its track record of delays and cancellations and its policy of landing its customers with sneaky pre-ticked extras,” he said.
However, Jetstar hit out at the survey and their ranking.
The slighted carrier called the survey flawed because it did not include ratings for Virgin Australia-owned rival Tiger Airways, effectively saying it wasn’t the worst – just the second-worst.
“CHOICE seem to enjoy criticising airlines without understanding the safety standards we operate to or recognising the role of low-cost carriers in making travel more affordable for millions of Australians,” Jetstar said in a statement.
“We know how important it is to get customers to their destination on time, and we recognise there is room for improvement and our team is doing a lot of work behind the scenes.”
Mr Bishop said part of the reason for Australian airlines’ failures, “especially Jetstar’s”, was its over-reliance on sub-contractors.
“Jetstar, Qantas, Virgin they all do it, they’ll sub-contract to another company to take care of your bags, take care of their customer service, to do the maintenance,” he said.