Qantas Bans Politician Following Airport Rant

Qantas Bans Politician Following Airport Rant

22

An Australian politician has been banned from flying with Qantas for six months. This came after she allegedly went on a rant against Qantas staff, and talked about her “p*ssy power.”

Denied airport lounge access causes drama

This incident happened on March 25, 2021, at Melbourne Airport, and involves Jacqui Lambie, a controversial senator from Tasmania. Qantas has a Chairman’s Lounge, which is an invitation only lounge reserved for business executives, politicians, and VVIPs (more on that below).

Apparently due to previous incidents, Lambie’s access to the lounge had been suspended, and she wasn’t happy to discover that. As she admits, she “blew [her] top at a Qantas worker who didn’t deserve it.” She also apparently spoke of her “p*ssy power” (which, I mean, more power to her).

Initially there had been reports that she called Qantas’ openly gay CEO a “poof,” though it has now been confirmed that wasn’t said. She vehemently denied it, and Qantas even confirmed in a written statement that she did not “make a homophobic remark as part of this incident.”

Qantas issues a six month flight ban

Apparently Qantas and the politician have been “negotiating” over what a fair punishment would be (I love the concept of that), and it has been agreed that a six month Qantas ban would be fair. I would be willing to bet she won’t be invited back to the Chairman’s Lounge when her flight ban is over. 😉

I guess at this point she’ll have to fly Virgin Australia, which is the only other airline that can fly her between Tasmania and Canberra.

Lambie has issued an apology, and it’s a good one at that. Here’s what she said:

“It was the end of a long week in Canberra. I’d backed into a car that morning, got a speeding ticket on the way to work, and my flight home was delayed. It was a bad day for me. But it was worse for the poor Qantas staff who had to stand and take my rant. It was totally uncalled for and totally unacceptable behaviour on my part.

I have apologised to the staff for my actions, and I’d like to do so again. I’ll take whatever punishment Qantas throws at me. I’ve done the crime and I’ll do the time, because that’s what I deserve.”

I’m really impressed that this isn’t just an “I’m sorry if you were offended” apology, but it actually seems heartfelt, or at a minimum takes accountability for what happened. It’s not often we see that from politicians, so at least kudos to her for that.

Qantas has banned a politician for six months for her behavior

What I find funny about Qantas’ Chairman’s Lounge

Since we’re talking about Qantas’ Chairman’s Lounge, it’s interesting to consider what is and isn’t considered appropriate in different countries:

  • In Australia, airlines give invitation only status to politicians, and even have special lounges for them, allowing them to also mix with top business executives; that’s not at all frowned upon, while that would be considered unfathomable in the United States
  • It seems to me like there’s a conflict of interest there — wouldn’t politicians be more likely to act favorably towards an airline that gives them special perks?

To be clear, I’m not suggesting we have higher ethical standards with politics given how campaign funding goes in the United States. And for that matter we see similar things in the United States, but it just happens under the table, and we act fake outraged when we find out about it.

It’s just a funny difference, since no one in Australia seems to bat en eyelid over it.

Bottom line

An Australian politician wasn’t happy to be denied access to Qantas’ invitation-only Chairman’s Lounge, which many politicians enjoy access to. She apparently acted inappropriately towards a Qantas employee, and has agreed to a six month flight ban.

She claims she was having an exceptionally bad day and takes accountability for the way she acted, so kudos to her for that, at least.

What do you make of this Qantas Chairman’s Lounge incident?

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  1. Azamaraal

    I admire the honest and accurate apology.

    I wish that Justin Trudeau, Canada's only politician convicted of conflict of interest numerous times by his own appointed commissioner, would take the same level of responsibility for his actions. As an honourable man he would have resigned years ago.

    In one case he allegedly groped a junior reporter in a small town. His apology was "we seem to have a different view of what happened" or similar....

    I admire the honest and accurate apology.

    I wish that Justin Trudeau, Canada's only politician convicted of conflict of interest numerous times by his own appointed commissioner, would take the same level of responsibility for his actions. As an honourable man he would have resigned years ago.

    In one case he allegedly groped a junior reporter in a small town. His apology was "we seem to have a different view of what happened" or similar. Similar to a famous quote "I never had *** with that woman".

    In a reasonable democracy everyone should have the right to converse with people of all backgrounds and agendas. Openly accepting that politicians do have to work with industry does not automatically guarantee a bad outcome which is perhaps an odd mindset to people who believe that industry is inherently bad for society and evil to the world.

  2. platy

    In my opinion, Lambie is a mixed bag. I reluctantly agree with her on some issues (strengthen political donation laws, resist commercialisation of tertiary education to the detriment of poorer folk), but otherwise she's a certified far right wing nut job (raving anti-Islamist, war criminal apologist).

    She originally stood for a fringe party (Palmer United) set up by a bumbling mining magnate called Clive Palmer. A few of his candidates were elected only almost every...

    In my opinion, Lambie is a mixed bag. I reluctantly agree with her on some issues (strengthen political donation laws, resist commercialisation of tertiary education to the detriment of poorer folk), but otherwise she's a certified far right wing nut job (raving anti-Islamist, war criminal apologist).

    She originally stood for a fringe party (Palmer United) set up by a bumbling mining magnate called Clive Palmer. A few of his candidates were elected only almost every one of them, including Lambie, then deserted his party to act as independent politicians or joined other minor parties of fringe-dwells muppets. Most faltered, but somehow Lambie prevailed. Palmer tried to resurrect his party, but was been decimated in recent elections.

    I suspect Lambie is at heart a fairly decent person, just very misguided / poorly informed / pig buttocks ignorant, etc., on a range of issues.

    Other fringe polls also misbehave when travelling, including the raving loon, Bob Katter in North Queensland. He makes a big deal of refusing to take his hat off at airport security. I've watched his antics at Cairns domestic security, luckily then to enjoy a complimentary upgrade for myself and partner from coach to business when he was overlooked and sat defiantly in his seat some rows back in coach. Bob's no fool and knows how to play to the gallery.

    @ Ben

    Yes, it amazes me too that there is no corporate ethical accountability. QF has a published guidelines document for ethical behaviour which staff are expected to follow - it excludes political favours. The behaviour would be frowned upon by global US-based corporations, for which I have consulted through my business. This apparently forgotten in the case of the Chairman's Lounge, which is the hottest ticket in town by invitation of the Chairman only, for handpicked CEOs and politicians. Qantas also supplies our thirsty politicians by sending them free wine, which they sometimes remember to declare on their registers of gifts and financial interests.

    There is a very cosy relationship between the airline and the politicians. Whenever QF is under financial stress they crawl to government with their begging bowl. During the pandemic they creamed government "job keeper" payments for under utilised staff only to sack many once the job keeper payments ended at end March 2021.

    Similarly in late 2013 when the share price had collapsed they went whinging to the government - fortunately, the latter called their bluff - a situation which I discussed with a certain current Australian political party leader when we sat next to each on a flight at the time.

  3. skedguy

    All this for calling Alan Joyce a po*f? OY!

  4. Crosscourt

    Painful woman.
    I'm perplexed as to why to find the chairman's lounge different or questionable. You think BA or US carriers don't have something similar or emirates? I've been a chairman's lounge member...

  5. Morgan

    Fair apology but good she deserves a 6 month ban.

  6. jane blogs

    @Scott
    Whilst Australia has a relatively small population it is an extremely large continent and hence the requirement to fly is critical especially between the major capital cities. The route Melbourne/Sydney (Australia's two largest cities) is the #2 busiest domestic flight in the world. NYC/LAX is #20 so that will give you an idea of the traffic on some routes.

    Qantas is the 3rd oldest airline in the world, Delta (US's oldest) is number...

    @Scott
    Whilst Australia has a relatively small population it is an extremely large continent and hence the requirement to fly is critical especially between the major capital cities. The route Melbourne/Sydney (Australia's two largest cities) is the #2 busiest domestic flight in the world. NYC/LAX is #20 so that will give you an idea of the traffic on some routes.

    Qantas is the 3rd oldest airline in the world, Delta (US's oldest) is number 7. Qantas stands for Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Service which is how it started as a service flying the vast distances in Australia's outback. However Australia is one of the most travelled nations in the world so there has always been a big demand for international flights not to mention being an island, a requirement for freight in all directions. And of course it is a huge business, student & tourist destination for Asia particularly China.

    As for size ie no of flights per day, I'm not sure Qantas would even make it into the top 100 especially compared to US airlines but they are the major airline in Australia for domestic and international routes. It definitely "looks" bigger than it is so I think you'd be surprised how small their fleet size is compared to most US & other international carriers. As it used to be government owned and part of a duopoly in the airline business competition has always been very tough in the Australian market. Despite their denials, Virgin & Qantas continue to operate what feels like parallel scheduling & pretty similar pricing. Airfares are still amongst the highest in the world but quality & standards are as well which is why Qantas is always pushing the barrier for innovation. If you have many daily flights that are over 24 hours in length, of course you need to be trying to give yourself a leading edge by improving the customer experience, reduce the fuel expense & shorten the flight length among other things which is what QF is constantly doing.

    You're right, we don't have the population or the airline hubs or the wide array of flights to every destination so there is not the constant connection, most flights are direct. And that makes the lounge experience important too and so Differentiating customer benefits is where the lounges come in. QF mostly has a minimum of 2 levels of lounges and at bigger airports, 4. Chairmans Club which has been discussed here today is invitation only and is for business elite & some politicians but not avail at all airports. Tend to agree that it is not ethically correct but that would just be the tip of the iceberg of such behaviour in Oz! However internationally there is no Chairmans Club only First Lounges, Business & the basic Qantas Club for economy and others. I think @lucky has written before about QF's first lounges which are amongst the best in the world & even the economy lounges would be superior to most of their competitors anywhere. No cheese squares in Australia or any of their international locations @Scott, full meals and premium alcohol across the network!! Qantas works very hard to massage and maintain its best customers & lounges are just a part of that strategy.

    Mmm, not sure how I got so carried away on that topic - must have been the Jackie Lambie thing and remembering how much I miss being in international lounges! Can't wait to get back into the world #OpenOurBorders! And I think I agree with you @PhilipElliot on JL

  7. Paolo

    @Eskimo @ Scott
    These Chairman’s Lounges are quite exclusive, not only in respect of the ‘membership’ requirement but also the ambience, food and beverages: only the best ( and certainly far, far superior to the domestic business lounges, not to mention the complete rubbish QANTAS Clubs). Access has huge snob value ( but denied entry/ suspension of membership is the converse.)
    QANTAS uses these lounges in an attempt to secure corporate travel accounts...

    @Eskimo @ Scott
    These Chairman’s Lounges are quite exclusive, not only in respect of the ‘membership’ requirement but also the ambience, food and beverages: only the best ( and certainly far, far superior to the domestic business lounges, not to mention the complete rubbish QANTAS Clubs). Access has huge snob value ( but denied entry/ suspension of membership is the converse.)
    QANTAS uses these lounges in an attempt to secure corporate travel accounts ( so ultimately shareholders and taxpayers pay the cost of the extravagances).
    QANTAS has always ‘punched above its weight’ in respect of international routes, given Australia’s size. Going right back to the time of Super Constellations, IIRC it was the first airline to offer RTW , although now it offers only a tiny number of international destinations ( mostly functioning through alliances). It reflected Australia’s relative isolation but also the fact that Australians are very mobile, frequent travellers.
    I don’t agree with the suggestion that Senator Lambie is a benign or positive presence. She has long been associated with the lunatic, xenophobic fringe of Australian politics. That might sit well in deeply redneck NW Tasmania, but not in the rest of the state or the country. A kind of déclassé version of Sarah Palin.

  8. Josh

    Virgin is not the only option. Lambie can fly with REX. In fact, REX is the most logical choice because it services her home town (Burnie); Virgin does not. Also, Australians don't sanction politicians being given access to the Chairmans Lounge (for some reason Qantas spells it with an apostrophe). When it hits the press, it's routinely derided.

  9. Scott

    @Eskimo I see your point about a place like Dubai or Doha. But in those cases, the vast majority of traffic is connecting because those cities are strategically located between huge population centers. Australia, on the other hand, isn’t convenient to much of anything, so almost nobody would be connecting there.

  10. Eskimo

    @Scott

    I wish I have an answer for your interesting question. I can only make you wonder even more.
    I do know that the Emirate of Dubai has about 4 million people.
    I do know that Emirates has (at its peak) around 120 A380s and 130 777s all over the world.
    Funny enough, Emirates' iO member also have access to this special lounge just for politicians and business executives.

    Do you think...

    @Scott

    I wish I have an answer for your interesting question. I can only make you wonder even more.
    I do know that the Emirate of Dubai has about 4 million people.
    I do know that Emirates has (at its peak) around 120 A380s and 130 777s all over the world.
    Funny enough, Emirates' iO member also have access to this special lounge just for politicians and business executives.

    Do you think the size of Dubai commercial aviation industry is way disproportionate for their population. How is this possible?

    By the way, you should feel lucky with DFW. You have AAdmirals Club, Sky Club, United Club, Centurion Lounge, Plaza Premium Lounge, The Club DFW, and even USO Lounge. Look at DAL, not a single lounge.
    And while not MD80, aircraft of comparable size such as 707 or DC-8 have connected the Far East from DFW.

    :)

  11. Philip Elliott

    Australian senators are supposed to represent the rich tapestry of the Australian population. They aren't necessarily part of the party political machine. It is quite easy for an independent to become a senator.

    Lambie is a rough diamond. Sure, she's abrasive. Id invite her to dinner any day, but perhaps not use the best plates in case anything gets broken. She's an enthusiastic member of the Senate, and is quite good at making a point...

    Australian senators are supposed to represent the rich tapestry of the Australian population. They aren't necessarily part of the party political machine. It is quite easy for an independent to become a senator.

    Lambie is a rough diamond. Sure, she's abrasive. Id invite her to dinner any day, but perhaps not use the best plates in case anything gets broken. She's an enthusiastic member of the Senate, and is quite good at making a point and causing a stir.

    One reader asks why so many airlines in Australia. We do fly around a lot seeing friends and family. So the planes are quite full. There's always a sale going on. And we enjoy to use the different airlines. It puts a bit of fun in our lives. If one of those airlines goes bankrupt sooner than later, well, that's the rough and tumble of life.

  12. Sir Walter Raleigh

    @Scott - flying to/from AU is not cheap.

  13. Scott

    I love Australia and Australians. But I have to say I'm also a bit stumped about Australian commercial aviation.

    I mean, Australia has about 25 million people. California alone has 40 million; Texas is 29 million; and Florida is almost 22 million.

    How is it that Australia has a major airline that flies 747s and A380s all over the world? And a second airline that's as large (Virgin) but also flies big planes long distances....

    I love Australia and Australians. But I have to say I'm also a bit stumped about Australian commercial aviation.

    I mean, Australia has about 25 million people. California alone has 40 million; Texas is 29 million; and Florida is almost 22 million.

    How is it that Australia has a major airline that flies 747s and A380s all over the world? And a second airline that's as large (Virgin) but also flies big planes long distances. And now we find that they have not just fancy lounges, but special lounges just for politicians and business executives?

    At DFW I feel like we're lucky if we get an Admirals Club that has free cheese cubes in it. And if AA could fly a regional jet or MD80 to Beijing from there, they would.

    It just seems like the size of the Australian commercial aviation industry is way disproportionate for their population. How is this possible?

  14. Eskimo

    I guess this is what happens to everyone when they found out that their Concierge Key, Delta 360, Chairman’s Circle privileges got suspended.

    @Paolo

    What an interesting background about this senator. She does seem very eccentric (or passionate). Her Twitter account photo does makes it more evident.
    I do question what you expect out of a senator? As long as she represents the people well isn't that what senators should be doing. Not that...

    I guess this is what happens to everyone when they found out that their Concierge Key, Delta 360, Chairman’s Circle privileges got suspended.

    @Paolo

    What an interesting background about this senator. She does seem very eccentric (or passionate). Her Twitter account photo does makes it more evident.
    I do question what you expect out of a senator? As long as she represents the people well isn't that what senators should be doing. Not that I condone such behavior by politicians either.

    Would you take an eccentric politician over a lying one all the time?

  15. Tommy Trash

    Have we already forgotten Jeff Smisek?

  16. Bhalo

    "In Australia, airlines give invitation only status to politicians, and even have special lounges for them, allowing them to also mix with top business executives; that’s not at all frowned upon, while that would be considered unfathomable in the United States"

    Really? I mean really???
    Fund raisers, open contributions to political leaders, invitation only dinners, practically all politicians in the pockets of various companies/interest groups/lobbies...heck, even foreign governments and yet you think allowing business...

    "In Australia, airlines give invitation only status to politicians, and even have special lounges for them, allowing them to also mix with top business executives; that’s not at all frowned upon, while that would be considered unfathomable in the United States"

    Really? I mean really???
    Fund raisers, open contributions to political leaders, invitation only dinners, practically all politicians in the pockets of various companies/interest groups/lobbies...heck, even foreign governments and yet you think allowing business executives and politicians to meet behind doors is unfathomable in US?
    SMH.

  17. Richard

    US Airlines also have invite-only lounges for pols. They basically all have one at DCA, and there are a few others as well.

  18. Malc

    @Lucky -- Interesting post.

    I don't think you can "frown down upon," only "frown upon" (or "on").

  19. Paolo

    Whaddayamean “it’s not frowned upon” to have politicians given entry to QANTAS Chairman’s Lounge? Of course IT IS...by people if not auditors.
    This woman is ghastly: vulgar and horrible. There has been a recent court case concerning unfair termination of staff in her office. One of the more choice pieces of evidence was that she had allegedly announced in the open office, out of the blue and apropos of nothing “ I’m desperate for...

    Whaddayamean “it’s not frowned upon” to have politicians given entry to QANTAS Chairman’s Lounge? Of course IT IS...by people if not auditors.
    This woman is ghastly: vulgar and horrible. There has been a recent court case concerning unfair termination of staff in her office. One of the more choice pieces of evidence was that she had allegedly announced in the open office, out of the blue and apropos of nothing “ I’m desperate for a XXXX”. Hardly what is expected of a Senator. The fact she’s from Tasmania only partly explains the eccentricity.
    I think REX airlines flies from her home in NW Tasmania ( Burnie) to Melbourne , although not right now , as Melbourne is back in lockdown and state borders are closed.

  20. Duck Ling

    It must be an Antipodean thing. Air NZ offers the same - an invitation only tier with invitation only lounge-within-a-lounge.

  21. Oliver

    As an Australian, we do not claim this woman at all.

  22. Alex

    Virgin Australia also has a similar lounge called The Club. Its not like everyone doesn't know about it - ethically speaking they will get the same perks regardless of the airline they fly.

    The irony is that US airlines pioneered lounges to invite politicians and other VIPs (History of Admirals club for one).

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Azamaraal

I admire the honest and accurate apology. I wish that Justin Trudeau, Canada's only politician convicted of conflict of interest numerous times by his own appointed commissioner, would take the same level of responsibility for his actions. As an honourable man he would have resigned years ago. In one case he allegedly groped a junior reporter in a small town. His apology was "we seem to have a different view of what happened" or similar. Similar to a famous quote "I never had *** with that woman". In a reasonable democracy everyone should have the right to converse with people of all backgrounds and agendas. Openly accepting that politicians do have to work with industry does not automatically guarantee a bad outcome which is perhaps an odd mindset to people who believe that industry is inherently bad for society and evil to the world.

platy

In my opinion, Lambie is a mixed bag. I reluctantly agree with her on some issues (strengthen political donation laws, resist commercialisation of tertiary education to the detriment of poorer folk), but otherwise she's a certified far right wing nut job (raving anti-Islamist, war criminal apologist). She originally stood for a fringe party (Palmer United) set up by a bumbling mining magnate called Clive Palmer. A few of his candidates were elected only almost every one of them, including Lambie, then deserted his party to act as independent politicians or joined other minor parties of fringe-dwells muppets. Most faltered, but somehow Lambie prevailed. Palmer tried to resurrect his party, but was been decimated in recent elections. I suspect Lambie is at heart a fairly decent person, just very misguided / poorly informed / pig buttocks ignorant, etc., on a range of issues. Other fringe polls also misbehave when travelling, including the raving loon, Bob Katter in North Queensland. He makes a big deal of refusing to take his hat off at airport security. I've watched his antics at Cairns domestic security, luckily then to enjoy a complimentary upgrade for myself and partner from coach to business when he was overlooked and sat defiantly in his seat some rows back in coach. Bob's no fool and knows how to play to the gallery. @ Ben Yes, it amazes me too that there is no corporate ethical accountability. QF has a published guidelines document for ethical behaviour which staff are expected to follow - it excludes political favours. The behaviour would be frowned upon by global US-based corporations, for which I have consulted through my business. This apparently forgotten in the case of the Chairman's Lounge, which is the hottest ticket in town by invitation of the Chairman only, for handpicked CEOs and politicians. Qantas also supplies our thirsty politicians by sending them free wine, which they sometimes remember to declare on their registers of gifts and financial interests. There is a very cosy relationship between the airline and the politicians. Whenever QF is under financial stress they crawl to government with their begging bowl. During the pandemic they creamed government "job keeper" payments for under utilised staff only to sack many once the job keeper payments ended at end March 2021. Similarly in late 2013 when the share price had collapsed they went whinging to the government - fortunately, the latter called their bluff - a situation which I discussed with a certain current Australian political party leader when we sat next to each on a flight at the time.

skedguy

All this for calling Alan Joyce a po*f? OY!

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