Make Qantas Smarter (and win!)

Qantas have a ‘thick’ online booking system.

This came to light when I read an article in The Dominion Post this morning, which reads:

A mother says she will never fly Qantas again after her two unaccompanied children were bumped off an overloaded Wellington to Sydney flight and sent to Auckland instead.

And here’s the set-up quote…

A Qantas spokesman said it was not policy to offload children travelling on their own. “If we had been aware of it, we would not have offloaded them.”

And the eyebrow raiser…

The tickets had been booked on the Internet, the spokesman said, and there was no indication the children were travelling alone.

But –  judging  by the user interface of their online booking system I believe  there is something very simple Qantas could do to ensure they will always be notified if children will be travelling alone…

Here’s the first stage of the booking screen.

I don’t know if the ‘Children travelling alone?’ link has recently been added by Qantas following the bad publicity – but even if it wasn’t, there is  a fool-proof way to ensure the airline will definitely know if children will be travelling alone.



Crickey! You could win me!Tell me how Qantas could have known the children were travelling alone (and your proposed solution to the problem) and you could win a rare spotted green Smorkin Labbit!

Some Conditions

  • Postage: To a New Zealand or Australian address only.
  • Guess as many times as you like.
  • I’m the judge and my decision is final.
  • In my opinion, the prize is not suitable for children.

9 responses to “Make Qantas Smarter (and win!)”

  1. brenda Avatar

    I was horrified when I read this story today. How stupid must Qantas be!! I’d say (for the rabbit) that the fact that there were two children standing ALONE when the plane was boarded was a pretty good sign. No doubt the (justifiably) hysterical mother at the check-in counter would’ve been another good indicator.
    Proposed solution? Injection of fetal brain tissue into the morons who didn’t notice that the kids were alone when they bumped them 🙂

  2. Hayden Avatar

    Umm . . if no adult fares were purchased on the same booking ref? (I know it’s not fool proof, but at least would give some indication . .)

  3. Johnny-johnny Avatar

    if ($children > 0 && $adult = 0) {

    $children_travelling_alone = true;


  4. jasmin Avatar

    Yep, adults = 0 it’s an extremely good sign the child(ren) are 11 or under. This would be the case for the two in question (11&8) unless their ages have been misrepresented – a 12 year old would be an ‘adult’ fare.
    To be fool proof though you’d need to handle the issue of children over 11 years who are required to pay an adult fare, and book as an adult. I don’t actually see how Qantas can easily see an ‘adult’ is actually 12 or 13 years old. Working through the booking system, there is no requirement for an age to be entered, so no trigger there.
    I would say the only option in this instance is to use a travel agent!
    Ref: Quantas Intl
    12 to 15 years (inclusive) On Qantas services children can travel as Unaccompanied Minors only at the request of their parent or guardian. If no request is made, there will be no special arrangements. The ages at which a child is classified as an Unaccompanied Minor can vary between airlines. Contact your local Qantas Office if your child is travelling alone and connecting to another airline.

    Ergo if the ‘adult’ or ‘adults’ is a 12-15 year old, there is no interface provision for coping with
    Sorry Zef 🙂

  5. Johnny-johnny Avatar

    I heard on the radio this morning that part of the reason there was an issue in this case with Qantas was that the two minors had adult tickets as booked over the internet (by their parent(s) I assume).

  6. Hayden Avatar

    So . . do I win? 😉

  7. webweaver Avatar

    I’m assuming you mean by "children", kids between the ages of 2 and 11? If you’re including children older than 11, then there’s a slightly different solution *

    Ok, so following on from your update, let’s assume that Qantas changes the form so that you do NOT have to select an adult if there are no adults travelling.

    So you book tickets for two children only. The system is programmed to recognise the fact that tickets are only being booked for children, with no adult tickets being bought at the same time. This would probably only require a bit of JavaScript which notes when the "Adults" dropdown selector is set at "0" and the "Children (2-11 years)" dropdown selector is set at 1 or more.

    The JavaScript pops up an alert box when this happens. The alert box says something like:

    "It appears that your booking request is for children’s tickets only. We need to check whether these children will be travelling unaccompanied, as we have a number of special services we provide for children in this situation. Please select one of the following options:

    YES these children are travelling unaccompanied
    NO these children are not travelling unaccompanied"

    If you select "yes", the system makes a note of this with the ticket booking, and ensures that "UNACCOMPANIED CHILD" is noted on both the tickets and the electronic data which will be provided to the check-in staff. This should stop unaccompanied kids being kicked off the plane, and should ensure that they are appropriately cared for.

    If you select "no", you would be taken to another window where you could provide further details if you wanted to (or if Qantas decided they wanted you to, I suppose) – for example:

    NO these children are not travelling unaccompanied – an adult/adults will be travelling with them whose ticket booking number is —
    NO these children are not travelling unaccompanied – an adult/adults will be travelling with them who has not yet purchased a ticket
    NO these children are not travelling unaccompanied – an adult/adults is travelling with them but I don’t know what their ticket number is

    …or whatever. You get the idea.

    You can’t proceed with your booking until you have selected "yes" or "no" in the alert box.

    * If you also wanted to ensure that unaccompanied children between the ages of 12 and, say 16, were also cared for appropriately and were not to be kicked off the plane, you’d simply need another dropdown selector on the first stage of the booking screen which reads something like:

    Children (12-16 years)

    In this case the JavaScript would be programmed to look out for when the "Adults" dropdown selector is set at "0" and the "Children (2-11 years)" and/or the "Children (12-16 years)" dropdown selectors are set at 1 or more.

  8. webweaver Avatar

    w00t! Wow I never win anything! I feel a bit of a cheat seeing as I arrived at this blog post after you’d added the hint – but I’ll take one for the team anyway! Do I really get the rare spotted green Smorkin Labbit? Kewl!

    Thanks, Zef!

  9. Zef Avatar

    Smorkin Labbit is rearing to go to its new home!