I want to like Qantas. Really. They are our national carrier, the Spirit of Australia and all that, but they just grate on me in all kinds of ways. Last night I went to the rugby in Sydney. After flying on Qantas, on possibly their oldest plane, a museum quality 767. This was reinforced when my headrest fell off and lodged behind my back on takeoff. No big deal I eventually managed to put it back in place. The in flight staff were surly and seemed to want to lecture all the passengers. I was lucky not be asked to pay for its replacement.
So off to the rugby and the ground announcers welcome us to “the Qantas Wallabies” vs New Zealand. Wow. The large logo on the jerseys and the signage all over the stadium is not enough for them? All through the game we are reminded that we are not watching our national rugby team, just a bunch of flying marsupials, bravely playing against an entire, albeit small nation. It ends in a draw. Well played Qantas.
So on to my return flight. I check early and politely ask if I can get an earlier service. No, not on this fare. Of course not, what was I thinking?
Now my original flight is delayed and I’m stuck here, wishing I was flying Virgin, whose staff actually smile and try to help. And the headrests stay attached, on their relatively new planes.
All this Qantas contemplation makes me wonder about a corporate psyche which doesn’t just want sponsorship or brand association, but insists on owning the relationship, name included. Does this reinforce Qantas as quintessentially Australian or alienate the people they seek to attract – Australians. I for one cringe at the “Qantas Wallabies” vs New Zealand announcements. Although apparently they are “my Qantas Wallabies”.
This brings me to another topical Australian – Clive Palmer the populist mining magnate and temporary politician. Clive also likes to own things and brand them in his own image. Resorts, political parties and mining companies all come under the Clive spell. So why not an airline? If Qantas is to be broken up into domestic and international airlines ,why not Palmer Airlines? Just picture Clive’s bloated bonce smiling at you from the tail of an A380. Could there be a better canvas? Just imagine what he could do for Australia- China tourism.