Sunday, September 15, 2013

Virgin Vs People - Read down to Virgin's response

We returned from Bali to Melbourne last Wednesday night on the Virgin ‘red eye’ leaving Bali around 10pm and arriving around 5am on Thursday.

We flew what is euphemistically known as ‘cattle class’.  Virgin unfortunately took this description as a mandate to treat people as just that – cattle.

I am just over six foot and I had ‘zero’ leg room with my knees pressed hard against the seat in front.  Surly this is against health and safety regulations because the only way I could get into or out of my seat was to drop in sideways using the seat in front as support.  No leg room means no movement, cramps and the increased possibility of deep vein thrombosis and swollen ankles.  The gent next to me tried to put on support socks but the only way he could achieve this was to literally stand on the seat.  He was well into his sixties.

The chocolate mousse and the pasta on the way over were inedible as was the chicken casserole and the ‘sweet’ bread roll on the return flight.  Why do Virgin proffer this rubbish when there is so much cooking talent in Australia capable of producing great ‘airline’ food?

For a night sleeping flight there were no blankets, no entertainment and seats which reclined all of about two inches and being literally jammed in.  Unable to move, the bloke next to me farted all flight, the one in front was constantly and loudly cleared his sinuses and a woman two people away threw up several times during the flight. Cattle.

When the ‘fasten seat belt’ sign came on staff locked down the cabin and allowed no-one to move from their seats including going to the toilet.  Strange that this lockdown occurred just prior to meal service on both flights and was rescinded just after service.  Could it be that staff are using the seat belt sign to make their job easier?

Attitude by staff was appalling.  When the meal or drinks trolley was pulled and pushed up the isle there was no thought for tired jammed in people with an elbow in the way remembering as the cart came from behind one cannot see the approach.  Twice I was hit by the cart with no apology.  It seems staff think they have a mandate to treat people as cattle.

But, by far the worst example of Virgin’s systemic attitude towards clients was when my partner went to join the toilet queue prior to landing.  After 10 minutes creeping up the line she was about to enter the toilet when the male staff member told her that there was no time for her to go to the toilet and to return to her seat.  The fasten seat belt sign did not come on for another 5 minutes.  This is insane and shows quite clearly what Virgin staff think of their customers – cattle.

Facilities, service and importantly, staff attitude was and is appalling.

Virgin should be paying us to suffer this sort of treatment.

Virgin’s response from Katharine Molloy  with my comments in red …

Dear Mr Langevad,
Firstly, thank you for your feedback and taking the time to let us know of your recent experience.
After reading through your feedback, I would like to take this opportunity to offer my sincere apology for any disappointment you felt with our Economy class and In Flight experience on your flight from Denpasar to Bali. May I suggest that the disappointment I felt was caused by Virgin – there is a direct cause and effect. Do not try and distance yourself from blame.
Firstly, our cabin crew are trained to provide outstanding customer care on board at all times and as we take great pride in our team members, it is concerning to read of your dissatisfaction with the level of service provided. As such please rest assured  your individual comments have been distributed to the relevant Cabin Crew managers, this will enable them to provide further training and coaching where necessary. It is not enough to blandly say that your staff are trained when it is very obvious that they are not.  You cannot take pride in rubbish.  Telling the managers has nothing to do with the service I was provided – it may affect future customers but I still suffered at the hands of incompetent staff and as I paid for and expected reasonable care and attention, Virgin failed and did not provide the product for which I paid.  If I may make a suggestion, never use the phrase ‘rest assured’.
It is also with regret to learn of your disappointment regarding the lack of In-Flight Entertainment (IFE), poor quality meals and restrictive seat dimensions. We strive to ensure all of our guests have an enjoyable and pleasant experience with us so it is with concern to learn this was not the case for you on this occasion. Once again, my disappointment was caused through Virgin providing rubbish food and not providing even barely adequate leg space.  This is a failure to provide a product for which I paid and I believe dangerous.
Mr Langevad, to clarifying, regrettably IFE is not always guaranteed on our aircrafts, is stated in our terms and conditions on the Virgin Australia website and is also noted and agreed to at the time of booking. Fine.
I can also advise that we are constantly reviewing our product offering in order to improve our services. Your feedback in regards to seat dimensions and unsatisfactory meals has given us key areas of focus in order to enhance our guest's experience and your comments will be taken into consideration when developing further enhancements to our product offering.  I am sorry to say this Katharine but this is banal crap.  I am not trying to enhance your guests experience, I am telling you that the experience I received was well below par and I believe dangerous.

I do hope you give us the opportunity to welcome you back on board one of our flights in the near future, and provide you with the high standards of service we pride ourselves on. Katharine, I paid for and expected a level of service and amenity consistent with advertised parameters.  I did not receive that and hence expect a refund.  I have already published my complaint on Trip Advisor and my blog.  To even say that you have high standards which you pride yourselves on is insulting to us and does indeed show a lack of care or indeed even an intelligent response.

As I said, Virgin has failed to deliver a merchantable product which I paid for.  For this I expect a refund.  Secondly, I expect Virgin to offer more than banalities.  I find your supercilious attitude insulting and appalling given the seriousness of the complaint.

I am publishing my continuing findings and involving the relevant authorities.

Kind regards,
Katharine Molloy [Virgin]