CEO Alan Joyce last week sent an email to all Qantas frequent flyers, basically excusing all the shit that went down. I don’t think he really expected this response from my old man.
Dear Mr. Jones,
Thanks for your email. There is nothing I like more than reading corporate PR,e specially when it’s unsolicited. And yours was a corker! Comic genius. It took me back to the time I rang your airline to make a booking and spent 27 minutes listening to ‘I Still Call Australia Home’. That song never palls. I remember that every now and then the song would stop and I would get ready to speak, and just as I opened my mouth, at the psychological moment, a really really happy sounding woman would tell me how much Qantas valued my call. They just couldn’t be stuffed answering it. Anyone who doesn’t find that shit funny has no sense of humour. Another time, you got that woman to say that she realised my time was valuable but still no dice. Even as I smashed the phone against the nearest wall I was kind of laughing at the irony.
No, credit where it is due, Alan, and now that we are in correspondence I feel I can call you ‘Alan’. I hope you don’t mind. Anyway as I say, credit where it’s due, you are the king of comic irony. From the opening ‘Dear Mr. Furlong’ I knew it would be good, but I must say you excelled yourself. The opening couple of paragraphs about how you had to shut down the airline because if you didn’t workers would shut down the airline, was good. But then you took it to another level when you added that the workers concerned only represented 20% of your staff and you wouldn’t let them inconvenience your customers. Then YOU inconvenienced the customers ALL BY YOURSELF. One person. Hilarious!
Then you went on to say how the decision was ‘immensely difficult’ for you, a new twist on the old ‘this is hurting me more than it’s hurting you’ gag. All great comics have nerve, and to offer that line to, let’s say, a passenger stranded overnight in the departure lounge in Islamabad while their father is on his death bed in Sydney…well, that shows the nerve of a comic genius. And it got better. I was nearly sick with mirth when you said that you wanted to ‘restore my faith’. I expected what followed to be an offer of special deals or guarantees or reimbursements or a commitment to have people answer the phones occasionally. But no, having raised my hopes in the first half of the sentence, you then subverted the paradigm, by saying that the way you would restore my faith would be by flying planes like a real airline and buying a few new ones. How do you think of this stuff?
But, like all the greats, you saved the best for last with your, ‘Now that this is over we can concentrate on what really matters…the customers’. The only way you could have improved that line is if you could have said it in between 17 playings of the Australian Children’s Choir singing ‘I Still Call Australia Home’.
Whatever they are paying you, it is not enough.