I flew yesterday from Bundaberg to Brisbane and then on to Melbourne. It was the end of a two day six flight trip. I had a briefcase and an overnight bag. So, this is flight five of the journey, traveling Qantas all the way.

At Bundaberg airport the Qantas employee wanted to weigh by two bags. He then asked me to check one as the combined weight was over 4kg. I explained that I have made flights in the previous 24 hours on exactly the same plane as this flight (a Dash-8) but he said rules are rules. I asked why and he said it would be unfair to others on the plane if I clogged up the overhead locker. I showed him that one bag would go under the seat and to over overhead. He said rules are rules. I explained that I had to connect in Brisbane and that his decision wold mean I have to go outside security to baggage, wait for my slim overnight bag and then back in and onto my connecting flight. You guessed it rules are rules. He seemed to take some delight in saying this. I enquired as to whether the plane was full and he advised not – it was half full. He would not change his mind.

The lady climbing aboard before me had an overnight bag, a large handbag, a plastic shopping bag and a jacket across her arm. Maybe I should travel in drag and see if that helps.

While waiting for my bags in Brisbane, hoping that I my bag was not being used as a means of carrying contraband from Bundaberg to Brisbane, I wondered how I would run the business. Sure I would have rules but I would also empower front line employees to make operational decisions which are sensitive to customer needs and conditions on the day. I would expect my employees would have allowed me to take the bag on. There was room, it was just over the limit, it took up LESS space than some people with one bag on the same flight.

But for Qantas being a big (read inflexible) business they cannot handle such a situation. This bloke had the opportunity to exert himself and he enjoyed it.

Nah, give me small business service and flexibility any day.

Post script: On the Brisbane – Melbourne flight I composed (in my head) a letter to Qantas customer service. I deleted it when I recalled how poor their response was last time I complained to them about poor service.