Australia floods leave tourist industry in peril

Brisbane, brisbane, Australia, australia
The terrible floods in Queensland, Australia, have destroyed thousands of homes, done billions of dollars of damage, and have left at least a dozen people dead. Queensland is a major coal exporter, and with the rising waters hampering shipments and flooding mines, world coal prices have risen. A major consumer of Queensland coal are Asian steel mills, which are already feeling the pinch. This has led to a rise in steel prices. That’s a double dose of bad news for the economic recovery.

Another Queensland industry has also been hard hit–tourism. The tourists have fled along with the residents, but it’s the long-term effects that are more harmful. If rising coal and steel prices hurt the economic recovery, that’s bound to hurt the tourism industry pretty much everywhere. Brisbane, Australia’s third-largest city, is the center for Australia’s Gold Coast, a major draw for Australia’s $32 billion tourist industry. Floods are damaging popular beaches and will require costly repairs. Coastal and riverside hotels and shops are being destroyed. The Brisbane Times reports that toxic materials washed into the sea could have an effect on delicate coral reefs and fish populations. With snorkeling and scuba diving such popular activities on the Gold and Sunshine Coasts, this could do long-term damage to tourism.

Meanwhile, airlines are worried about how this will affect them. Virgin Blue has already seen its shares drop by 3.4 percent today because investors fear there will be a drop in bookings. Qantas shares also dipped slightly. Airlines are issuing fee waivers for passengers who want to change their flights to, from, or through Brisbane.

It looks like Queensland residents will suffer from the flood long after the waters recede.

[Photo of Brisbane sunset courtesy user t i m m a y via Gadling’s flickr pool]

Flight attendant trainee suing Qantas for failure to provide shrink

Qantas flight attendantSo, you’re new on the job. In fact, your title still has “trainee” in it. And then something goes wrong. That’s enough to make you go home, pop the cork on a bottle of wine and lament the fact that you work for a third world company. Now, imagine the whole thing happening 30,000 feet from the ground. Yeah, it sucks. You need more than a bottle of wine to take the edge off at that point. In fact, there’s probably a good chance you’d want some counseling.

Well, that’s exactly what Jessie Holgersson wanted, and she doesn’t feel she got it fast enough.

According to AM, an ABC morning show in Australia, Holgersson, a flight attendant on the Qantas 747 that had an engine fire, didn’t get counseling until a day after the incident. Her attorney “says that was too late and claims that Miss Holgersson was discriminated against for raising safety concerns about the airline’s lack of care.” Yeah … lawyer. Discrimination. Do the math: Holgerrson is suing.

Says Holgersson:

I was on my second training flight, we’d just flown from Sydney to Singapore, and everything went great on that flight and we had a nice day in Singapore and then we were heading back home and everything seemed normal and fine and about sort of six minutes after take-off we had an incident with our engine nut blew out.

She adds that “afterwards we were told that it was a fairly normal occurrence and these things can happen and, you know, not to worry about it too much.”

To make matters worse, according to AM, “The trainee was not given a permanent job.”

Qantas says through a spokeswoman that “Miss Holgersson was being assessed for possible employment by a UK cabin crew subsidiary at the time of the flight, with any position to be based out of London.” The company cites her behavior in training as the reason it didn’t offer her a position – and that she didn’t want to work out of the UK.

As to the claim that the flight attendants weren’t provided with counseling, Qantas says that it provided immediate and appropriate support.

[photo by Skazama via Flickr]

Qantas luggage “all tied up” in Melbourne

Qantas airlinesIt must be those adventure travelers … they’re always so high maintenance.

A rock-climbing rope jammed up some of the Qantas baggage equipment at the Melbourne, Australia airport last night, and as many as 400 pieces of luggage are lying around, waiting to be reunited with their passengers. Of course, the Sydney Morning Herald reports, passengers are welcome to “search through the piles” if they are eager to get their bags sooner.

Meanwhile, Qantas has copped to “bag issues” but nothing more so far. The Sydney Morning herald writes that the airline “could not confirm the number of bags that still needed to be returned to passengers.”

Unsurprisingly, Qantas has offered an apology, something to which the airline has become accustomed recently. The article continues:

“Due to an item from a customer bag jamming the baggage system in Melbourne yesterday, the system was down for a period of time,” he said.

“As we did everything to move backlog bags, the system experienced another problem and we are in the process of clearing the backlog as soon as possible.”

[photo by Skazama via Flickr]

Qantas flight attendants restrain would-be murderer

A man threatened to kill the other passengers on a Qantas flight from Melbourne to Hong Kong, forcing flight attendants to restrain him. An airline spokeswoman wouldn’t confirm what some were saying – that the would-be murderer was praying before threatening to kill himself and others and said, “You will all die.”

The Sydney Morning Herald continues:

But an Australian passenger, Helen, said another woman on the flight told her a man, whom she believed was praying in Hebrew, suddenly started shouting: “I’m going to kill myself, you are all going to die, it will be God’s will, what will be will be, I’m going to open the door.”

Helen noted that the crew was “fantastic,” adding, “the boys held him down and subdued him and one of the female crew cuffed him.”

The crew turned the passenger over to the authorities in Hong Kong. Apparently, they are trained to handle these situations.

So, if you get annoyed about not getting your beverage service quickly enough, keep your mouth shut while you’re flying Qantas.

[photo by notsogoodphotography via Flickr]

Woman loses sense of hearing from screaming child on Qantas flight

We’ve all been there at some point – you board your plane, and a child starts crying, with no intention of stopping until the plane lands. Thankfully, most parents are able to soothe their little ones, but for one passenger on a Qantas flight, things were not that simple.

In January 2009, 67 year old Jean Barnard was walking down the aisle back to her seat, when a three year old boy leaned back over his armrest, and screamed so loudly at her, that blood came out of her ear, leaving her deaf.

Now, this is where the story takes an interesting turn, because Ms. Barnard sued Qantas claiming “the plane’s cabin and cockpit crew failed to take all the necessary precautions to prevent the accident that resulted” in her injury.

I’m not an aviation specialist (though I do pretend to be every now and then), but I’m at a loss as to what the crew could have done to prevent this accident. Unless of course locking toddlers away in the luggage hold is considered an appropriate solution. the airline simply can’t be held responsible for actions of a passenger, especially a three year old.

Sadly, Ms. Barnard showed the often notorious American way of dealing with large companies, because she spent over a year in court, up till the point where Qantas gave in and settled in a confidential agreement.

The case stinks even more, because lawyers for Qantas discovered that Ms. Barnard admitted to wearing a hearing aid before the incident and uncovered an email in which she said the kid was lucky she did not stomp him to death.

[Photo: TORSTEN BLACKWOOD/AFP/Getty Images]