Back in January when making my predictions for 2009 I wrote about excess costs within an airline back office, and at the time said:

“There are very few airlines today really going after these costs aggressively, but in coming months I hope to write about a few of those that are.”

In recent days I’ve seen two different stories that have given me reason to want to discuss efficiency at Qantas (QF); even more so after seeing an unnamed  “analyst” use the following quote about Qantas in the Financial Times recently.

“Qantas still has legacy issues from the period when it was a government owned airline, including layers of management and work practices,”

No-one is perfect, but I meet with a lot of airlines, and Qantas are certainly much closer to the top of the list than the bottom when it comes to well managed and efficient airlines. But that quote above is too general to justify a post, so what were the two articles I am referring to? Firstly, I saw an article in the Dallas Morning News advising passengers that because fares to Europe had dropped so much it could be worthwhile to cancel their original booking, accept the cancellation fees, get a refund voucher, buy exactly the same itinerary at a now cheaper price, and then pocket the difference (albeit in a voucher rather than cash).  But the really compelling story on vouchers can be found on Brett Snyder’s blog called Cranky Flier. That post is a must read, if only for the way he has gone and taken a photo of every sheet in the 10 page booklet he was mailed, half of which was printed on expensive card stock; and all for the paltry voucher sum on United of $32.40.

As it is Easter and most people are winding down for a break, I’ll split this post into two halves. Please take some time to read the other articles that I’ve linked to above, and then my next post will be about what I consider to be current best practice in the generation and redemption of airline stored credit vouchers.

Part 2