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QANTAS: I hate your bag-tags and automated bag drop

QANTAS: I hate your bag-tags and automated bag drop

I’m an experienced, but not totally relaxed flyer. What I mean is, I have flown a lot, and often, but I still have a level of anxiety about the process. I’m not worried about planes falling out of the sky or anything, I’m just anxious about the process of flying. For example, if I have a checked-in bag will it get there with me? Will something happen between leaving home and getting on the flight that will interfere with me catching my flight on time? These are little thoughts, minor niggling anxieties until they are realised.

Packing and arrival process

Today, I arrived at Sydney Airport, maybe 20 minutes later than I intended but still more than a good hour before the flight. I had luggage that needed to be checked in, and I was travelling from an unusual location, so didn’t know how long it would take to get to the airport. Plus the Uber arrival took a little longer than usual, and I was slow in packing.

Then the flight got delayed by 15 minutes, so I relaxed about my delay.

a person holding luggage

Bag Tags

I got to the airport and had to make the decision about self tagging baggage check, or heading to the Qantas counter as my Platinum status allows. The queues (note plural) for the service counter both had more than 10 people in them. No worries – head for the baggage self-check. Baggage on conveyor, answer all the questions and then – ‘cannot check-in your luggage’ sign appears on the screen. The preceding passenger had a similar issue. OK – swap back to the service counter line. More people had joined. Do a quick calculation, and I realise that I could potentially miss the close of check-in if I remain waiting in the queue. Head back to the self check again, and fail again – wasting another 5 minutes.

I return to the service desk line – wishing I had headed there in the first place. This time there is an attendant triaging the queue. I explain my concern about missing check-in closing time for my flight, as does another passenger on another similarly timed flight. We are waved through the queue, and directed to a service attendant. She places standard paper baggage tags on my case, gives me a Baggage Receipt, and I’m on my way, with an apology for inconvenience from the service desk attendant.

Now, I have had other Qantas service people tell me that the tags are notoriously unreliable. In contradiction, the other passenger experiencing issues with the automatic bag drop, also had a paper tag, and not a Q bag tag.

All is well. Checked in 15 minutes before the cut-off for luggage check-in. Security queue is a breeze. I even have time to get a biscuit and a coffee in the Business Lounge.

a group of people in a terminal
Sydney Airport Terminal 3, holiday chaos

The Kicker

When travelling on my own, I often head down to the gate before the flight is called in the lounge. I like to be close to the front of the premium queue. I should have known, with the flight already delayed, there would be more issues. Well there were, another delay making a total of nearly 50 minutes. Since the lounge was adjacent to Gate 5 where I was queued for my flight, I headed back and got another 15 minutes in the lounge before boarding.

Good Pilot

The pilot explained that the plane had arrived late and then there was an issue with the landing bridge – some mechanism that stops it from crashing into the plane wasn’t working properly, so they couldn’t commence boarding until that was fixed, and of course it took longer than initially expected.

a plastic knife and a cup of coffee
A previous Qantas catering incident [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

2PAXfly Takeout

You will be pleased to know that the rest of my flight to Adelaide was uneventful. Economy catering ‘snack’ (two vanilla /chocolate iced ‘shortbread’ style biscuits) was disappointing for what ended up being a lunch time flight. Oh, and my bag arrived with my flight, and was untampered with, despite me completely forgetting to lock it. Rookie error!

I still hate those Q bag tags and self service baggage dumping machines. In the famous words of Scarlet O’Hara, “…as long as I live and breath and have Platinum Status, I will go to the service desk while checking in luggage!”

However maximum points awarded to the Qantas service assistant on triage duty, the service desk attendant for the apology and the Qantas captain for fully explaining the reason for the delay and also apologising for any inconvenience.

Full Disclosure: my request for a points upgrade to business on this flight was declined. Could be the subconscious reason for my catering snipe.

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