Service Culture QANTAS vs United – Astounding difference in customer experiences

I just arrived in Hong Kong for my first time and so far I love it.

Whilst I am on holidays for most of the week, I plan to duck across the border for a few days and meet with a few Shenzhen traders, do a PCB factory tour and meet with a few fixers and the CEO of a local hardware incubator to help in some hardware projects we are working on.

One of the things that struck me on the flight up here was that I had never had such fantastic service on any airline (except for that wild First Class upgrade to Bangkok on British Airways a few years ago).

Even when the company policy is allows business class I tend to look for premium economy flights as it galls me to waste $10-15k on a business flight.

So recently I have had the opportunity to fly premium economy on two airlines and the difference was staggering.

Based on today’s experience I can tell you that our National airline QANTAS must have had a big cultural shift to providing top grade service in the last year or so.

I’m not sure what’s gotten into them but the service was so good I felt compelled to write about it.

Frankly the whole package was better than most business class flights I have had in years gone by.

Which brings me to the rest of the story and the sorry state of Australia to Silicon Vally aviation.

A few months ago I had the misfortune to fly United Airlines Sydney to San Francisco and the difference compared to todays flight was astounding.

Frankly United was absolutely appalling .

United has the only direct flight from Sydney to San Fran the tech capital of the world and it’s a disgrace.

I feel sorry for my fellow Startup brothers and sisters who have to fly to the valley regularly that they have to tolerate such a shitty service, I wouldn’t be surprised if many choose to fly via LAX and put up with an extra hop and 4-6 hours.

After paying approx $2k more for a clapped out premium economy seat (which was just a normal seat with about 1-2″ more leg room) these bastards have the audacity to charge me $8 for a beer with a side order of screw you service.

The United cabins are reminiscent of Cold War soviet era Aeroflot combined with 70s NSW cityrail with staff that would have trouble getting a job in Centre link (the unemployment office public service) and every flight I have had with them has been at best tolerable at worst is so bad to recommend to anyone who will listen that they should never fly with them ever.

The CEO of United needs to be forcefully retired along with their crappy old aircraft and disapproving school teacher staff with shitty attitudes.

That he has allowed it to get that bad across aircraft and staff means he is clearly not up to the job.

So well done to QANTAS for an outstanding flight,

United you are doomed and you have been warned.

Memo to all airlines if you are looking for a wide open profitable route with crap competition check out Syd-SFO I’m sure Australian tech entrepreneurs and tourists would do anything to avoid flying United.

StartUps there is a lesson to be learned as you mature, service culture is critical don’t become United.

Anyone else experienced similar?


Jonathan Barouch – Nailing It

Jonathan Barouch (“JB”) is ‘Nailing It‘ and in my opinion what makes him really special is the grace with which he does it.

His back-story is worth knowing too. So let me take you through a quick history…

A 16-year old JB started a florist business (Fast Flowers) because he wanted to buy his year-10 formal partner flowers online and couldn’t.

His hard work paid off when he was promoted on the popular TV show, ‘Money’ and his site and story was such an instant hit, it crashed the servers.

This mad rush as a young bloke meant he developed time management and communication skills when most of us were sleeping through it and grunting at our parents.

There’s a proud stereotype for entrepreneurs like me who didn’t finish university. We think, it’s enough to be “street smart”. Not Jonathan, he is book smart too.

Fast Flowers grew whilst Jonathon was at Uni, where he completed 3 bachelor degrees and 2 Masters degrees. And he fitted in getting married, travelling the world and being a mid-twenties bloke in fast-moving Sydney. Through all this he never looked like raising a sweat. Just smiling along.

JB Photo
Jonathon had his first big pay-day with the sale of Fast Flowers to Jack Singleton and friends at 1300 Flowers. This gave him time, which he didn’t waste. He was planning his next adventure.

It wasn’t too long before he partnered with the publicly listed Salmat and started Roamz a location-based social media advertising platform. Roamz was a success, but JB deftly pivoted the business into its current form – Local Measure.

Local Measure is taking corporate marketing departments by storm. Check out Qantas talking them up below. The business is almost elegant, it’s so good.
1. It’s great technology
2. It’s well sold
3. To a customer that feels the pain and
4. To a customer that can afford to pay

Compare this to most startups and you get to see why JB deserves my nomination for Nailing It. I don’t know his financials, but I’m sure they’re good.

However, Jonathan is not boastful or anything. In fact the opposite is true. He goes out of his way to help others.

For a long time he has volunteered his resources to the Young Business Forum and his countless other industry engagements. In doing so he has acted as a sounding board, advisor, mentor and guru to huge numbers of this Australias’ entrepreneurs.

Personally I hold his opinion to be gospel on so much, but it’s not just me. Jonathan is regularly commenting on behalf of the startup ecosystem.

His book smarts and street smarts makes him a fascinating guest for mainstream media. This ABC Interview analysing the budget shows a compelling example of his comfort under pressure and huge brain.

Yes, JB is hugely driven, smart, talented and deserves praise for these traits. But it is his grace that is just amazing. He is as cool in the spotlight as out of it. He holds his own opinion, but always listens to others. He shows respect to everyone regardless of who they are and his eagerness to help those that are helping themselves is second to none.

He is just ‘Nailing It’ and just for good measure when he’s not running his business, helping others with theirs, being a Dad and a spokesman for the industry, he is a Director of Sydney Story Factory a not-for-profit helping children with creative writing and expression.

JB, thank you for the example you provide.