Posts Tagged ‘Qantas’

We happened across this little article by Michael Gebicki from Fairfax and it reminded us that we have been meaning for a YEAR to whinge about the temperature on planes.

Keeping temperatures at the lower end of the range on a plane can be a better option than having passengers fainting.Keeping temperatures at the lower end of the range on a plane can be a better option than having passengers fainting. Photo: Getty Images

The pilot has overall control within a range of about 20-28 degrees, but within those parameters the actual temperature control is left up to the flight crew, who will generally set is at 22 or 23 degrees.

If the temperature drops to 20 degrees passengers start to shiver and complain, but anecdotal advice from flight crew suggests that more passengers faint when the temperature rises above 24 degrees.

This is supported by a study conducted by a study published by the American Society for Testing and Materials, which concluded “There is evidence that cabin pressure and temperature may contribute to the occurrence of syncope”, the medical term for fainting.

This results from a deficient blood flow to the brain, which might happen when a passenger rises after a prolonged period of inactivity.

Fainting is more likely to occur following a sedentary spell in an aircraft than at home, sitting in front of the TV for example, because air pressure in the cabin at typical cruising altitude is equivalent to the outside air pressure at 1800–2400m above sea level.

At that altitude, less oxygen is available to be transported in the blood stream, which increases the incidence of fainting.

Flight crew also suggest that passengers sitting in the rear of an aircraft are more susceptible, along with overweight males, elderly passengers and those with cardiovascular conditions.

Hmmm. Well we had one experience recently with drove us nuts. We flew from Tokyo to Paris with Japan Airlines, specifically because we wanted to end our brief sojourn in the Land of the Rising Sun with the experience of munching sushi on the way over to France, even though by the time we got there we were actually a bit sushi-d out as we had eaten little else for four days. Well, we had one plate of German ham hock in a first floor Bavarian “BierKeller”, but that’s a long story.

May we suggest an extra serve of green tea ice-cream?

May we suggest an extra serve of green tea ice-cream?

Anyhow the cabin temperature was set to roasting overnight. It was completely impossible to sleep comfortably – or even just endure it watching TV comfortably.

Now admittedly we were sitting towards the rear of the plane (on the basis that very few planes ever reverse into mountains) and your compellingly honest correspondent will admit to being somewhat, er … well let’s just say an Indian tailor once smiled sweetly and said he thought he had something in portly short that would fit us … but it was really ridiculously hot. Even Mrs Wellthisiswhatithink agreed, and she would complain of feeling chilly sitting next to an open blast-furnace.

We pleaded with the cabin staff to turn the heating down, but they simply refused, albeit with lots of bowing and smiling. “No” still means “no”, even when accompanied by traditional Japanese deference. Eventually, one remarked that Asian passengers prefer the cabin kept warmer, or they all complain. As we were amongst very few Europeans on the flight we grumblingly acquiesced to that logic and eventually went to sleep with a tea-towel stuffed with ice behind our neck.

The sushi was pretty crap, too. And the seats were too small. Although to be fair it should be noted that in 2013 JAL was given an award for being the most punctual international carrier, so presumably you arrive at your destination drenched in sweat but on time more often.

In general, we find cabin temperatures are set too high way too often, especially on long-haul overnight flights. One such flight across the Atlantic (Chicago-London) with BA would have been more comfortable if we’d all been in bathing costumes. Admittedly it was seriously cold leaving Chicago, but it’s hard to dismiss the feeling that the cabin was set to uber-warm by the staff to greet the frozen travellers and then just left that way because no one thought to check it. Or maybe they were just having too much fun chatting to yours truly as he drank vodka after vodka in the food prep area, having given up entirely on any hope of getting any sleep.

The point is surely, if they are set at the lower end of the scale, then people who feel chilly can put on another layer, or snuggle under a blanket. Or two. Those who are overheated are limited in their ability to respond. No one wants to see a somewhat corpulent middle aged fellow in his undies fanning himself with a dog-eared in-flight magazine.

So we politely urge pursers and captains to start low and hand out lots of blankies, or at least start low and edge the temp up half a degree at a time, rather than start high and wait for people to start fainting or panting.

Unless your passenger list is mainly Asian, we guess. In which case, Caveat Emptor would seem to apply for fliers. Interestingly, though, we have also flown with South China, Cathay Pacific, Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysian, and not noticed the problem to anything like the same degree as we experienced with JAL.

The other hottest planes we have known have been Qantas inside Australia, which are frequently stifling. What is with that?

Apparently taking "selfies" of their beautiful selves is the latest thing with air hostesses, as this recent shot of an Emirates crew shows. Well you try Googling "too hot stewardesses" and see what you come up with.

Apparently taking “selfies” of their beautiful selves is the latest thing with air hostesses, as this recent shot of an Emirates crew shows. Well you try Googling “too hot stewardesses” and see what you come up with.

And just to throw a bunch of flowers as well as a brickbat, we flew back from Dubai to Australia with Emirates and the experience was about as magnificent as flying anywhere cattle-class could be.

Seats were comfortable, food was brilliant, staff were charming and spoke (to our count) 17 different languages – they announce them at the start of the flight – entertainment system was excellent – and above all, blessed be, the cabin was pleasantly temperate.

Still, we guess people from Dubai know a bit about air-conditioning.

The exceptionally comfortable Dubai International airport is enormous – cavernous – yet impeccably cool: quite remarkable, really, although clearing customs was ludicrously slow. That aside, we would recommend Emirates to anyone.

What’s your most recent flying experience – good, bad, indifferent? And what do you think about cabin temperatures? Let us know!

britair.jpgAs you will know, Dear Reader, our day job is, as often as not, in the advertising business, hence our abnormal, (some would say mildly obsessional), fascination with the egregious mistakes that pepper our industry.

You can find umpteen examples, some very funny, by searching for “F***” in the search box top left of this page.

This latest example, which greeted commuters at Euston Station in London yesterday, takes the cake. It is funny, in a sort of gut-wrenching embarrassing way.

 

20140328-123721.jpg

 

We think we’ll stick with the commute, thanks. OK, the ad has been withdrawn by British Airways with apologies that it “was not appropriate at this time”. But let’s be clear here, these things don’t take place overnight. The media is booked weeks in advance. The artwork (this is a video installation) is created weeks in advance

At no time until the public started complaining via social media did anyone in the ad agency or the client’s media buyers or the client’s marketing department or, for that matter, the station owners who were selling the ad space, suggest that this ad was just the teensy-weeniest bit stupid, not to say breathtakingly insensitive, given that the Indian Ocean is the widely expected graveyard for the recent disappeared Malaysian Airlines flight that has led every news bulletin in the world for two weeks.

Two words. Sack. Someone.

Who would have thought an airline could make Qantas look competent? Wonders never cease.

qantas

Dear Qantas

So …

I am not an airline expert. I am just your average common-or-garden passenger. But the man on the tele says your share price has halved since current management took over. And in that time, presumably, your Directors and Management, have become seriously wealthier. If that’s not the case, please tell me, but, you know, I’m just guessing.

Meanwhile, another man on the tele says, just as one example of the coverage of your company tonight, that your investment in your subsidiary Jetstar’s Asian business currently runs at about a billion dollars. And the return? Not one cent. Hmmm.

Remember when, at the end of 2011, we had to watch, stupified, while your CEO Alan Joyce finished his year on a high note, being granted nearly $600,000 of the airline’s shares?

Two months after Mr Joyce grounded the airline, stranding 70,000 people worldwide for days, your board awarded him 375,014 shares bought for him by the company’s share plan trustee at $1.58 each, the result of him “meeting performance targets”.

As the Sydney Morning Herald reported, this brought his annual remuneration package to about $5 million.

So today, less than two years later, your basic response to your apparently dire lack of business and marketing nous is, as ever, to cut the jobs of your long-suffering staff and to stick out your well manicured mitts for a handout. Dressed up with some pay cuts for senior management. Whoop-di-doo. We suspect you can afford it.

joyceWell, Qantas, yesterday you charged me $30 PER PERSON for the privilege of booking four tickets I needed by credit card online – the only payment option on offer, of course – with me doing you the favour of not bothering your staff with having to sell me tickets.

That’s money I can’t afford. Today, you want me to subsidise you with my money, via the Government?

Well, Alan Joyce and your colleagues, I politely decline your kind offer to prop you up any longer.

You do what the rest of us would have to do. Raise the money you need from would-be shareholders on the open market. And if that means your existing shareholders end up with their value reduced, well, serve you right for running the business the way you have, serve them right for letting you, and you can wear the resulting approbrium.

You know what? I actually believe in a national  carrier. I might have even subscribed for $120 myself, but you just robbed me of that chance.

Chickens. Roost. Geddit ?

Yours sincerely
Pissed Off of Melbourne

This article was originally published in 2010 in the Australian Financial Review. In it James Strong, chairman of Woolworths and IAG, and former CEO of Qantas, who sadly and prematurely died aged 68 this week, reflects on the value of walking the talk on management style.

A considerable outpouring of sadness reveals how this successful Aussie businessman was widely respected and cherished, and when one reads this article – packed full of commonsense – it is easy to see why.

I have always said I can tell everything from a  potential business contact by how they treat waiters, waitresses and barmen.

The first thing I do in a restaurant is find out the name of the person serving me, as we don’t have the charming American tradition of them introducing themselves. I then use their name throughout the meal, and thank them for the work they are doing on my behalf.  Of such common courtesies is the world built. People who ignore them will genuinely not be the type of people with whom I want to do business.

How do you get to the top? A dash of luck, a lot of determination, and in James Strong's case, by all accounts, vast amounts of commonsense and dignity.

How do you get to the top? A dash of luck, a lot of determination, and in James Strong’s case, vast amounts of commonsense and dignity.

Years ago, I spoke to a group of managers from a telecommunications business on the importance of understanding how your own behaviour sends a message.

Their leader at a subsequent dinner said how he totally endorsed this very personal approach, whilst at the same time disdainfully dismissing with a wave of his hand a young waiter trying to offer him some wine. No eye contact, no acknowledgment that the waiter was a person. My heart sank, as I knew I had wasted my time.

Years later, I recounted this story to 500 guests at a business luncheon. After the event, the hotel manager rushed up to tell me that his entire staff were amused that the audience was suddenly unusually polite to his staff at every table – lots of eye contact, with smiling acknowledgment of service!

Why should that not apply to every person providing service? They could be your son or daughter, niece or nephew. They are entitled to respect.

Very successful groups tend to share a fundamental value in how they operate, implicitly or explicitly.

This is recognition that the key factor in creating high performance is how you treat people, inside and outside the organisation, every day in every way.

The gap between what someone in a leadership position says they believe in and what people actually observe I crudely refer to as the “urinating in a wetsuit” style of management. The person in the wetsuit gets a lovely warm feeling, but no one else from outside can see that anything has changed.

Dang, this Willy Wonka meme is useful ...

Dang, this Willy Wonka meme is useful …

So when a leader promises enlightened and empathetic change, and there is no discernible difference in the organisation, you predictably get “the rolling eyeball effect” as staff mutter “another wanker telling us the same old story, but we know nothing will really change”.

It is behaviour that matters – it’s how you actually treat people, not how you say or think you treat them.

People are much more likely to do their best and deliver extra discretionary effort for an organisation when they experience respect, encouragement, personal development and opportunities to grow.

It is all too easy to underestimate the intelligence or powers of observation of people. All of us are making assessments of people and companies or groups every day – guaging sincerity, credibility and trustworthiness. Where actual daily behaviour and treatment do not match stated value propositions, cynicism and distrust flourish quickly. (And productivity falls vertigionously – Ed.)

Many frothy mission statements or management “manifestos” declare the importance of people, and a set of high-minded values held dear by the organisation. If this is not the actual experience each and every day, it is no surprise that those words mean nothing.

The central proposition should be to establish and display authenticity and believability with people through consistent daily behaviour and powerful personalised communications. The greatest compliment any speaker or writer can receive is a comment such as “I understood everything you were saying”.

During my time at Qantas [Strong was CEO from 1993 to 2001], we evolved a format of presentations immediately after every six-month results announcement. Each forum was attended by 1,000 people from every level and area.

It started with the financial results, then a simple explanation of our profit and loss account, so people saw our costs and revenue streams, taking the profit onto the balance sheet, showing why a company needs profits to invest in its future, dividends to pay its shareholders, plus a cash-flow statement to show the importance of timing in balancing investment, etc. All simplified and easily understandable.

The rest of each day was a report by the CEO on challenges, issues and directions, then an update by the head of every major division of the group – aircraft fleet plans, engineering, IT, marketing, people issues, etc. Always a section by a front-line team telling their colleagues how they had taken on a problem in their area, and what they had achieved. They were powerful messages. From a doubtful “Is this a brainwash?” start, people were bidding from all over the business for an opportunity to attend. They walked out feeling they had been trusted with enormous amounts of information and were now incredibly well informed. The atmosphere was always electric. They had individual kits and an obligation to share with colleagues.

People like to be well informed, to feel like “insiders” as to what is happening, what is planned. It makes them feel they are respected and trusted.

It is very difficult today for CEOs to spend a lot of time speaking directly to staff in groups, but it remains the potentially most powerful way to influence people. Fronting up has great credibility in good times or bad.

Exciting atmospheres can be created by inviting staff to participate in problem identification in their area of work.

For example, Woolworths in the past experienced some difficulties with its huge warehouse distribution system in relation to turnover, absenteeism, productivity and staff engagement.

The senior management backed an outsider with an impressive track record of real cultural change in tough environments to bring about a transformation. In his usual daring form (and with the approval of the CEO), he invited the whole senior management group to hear a presentation by staff from one distribution centre. They were forklift operators, team leaders and others from the front line. They were nervous, but they outlined what they thought were the problems where they worked, and what they would like to have a say in changing.

They told about quality and suitability of equipment, safety and workplace injuries, rostering and manning practices, and being treated as though they had something to contribute. Hallelujah! Amazingly, this matched the management concerns.

They began a process of people in distribution centres forming groups to take responsibility for critical issues such as safety. They also were given data so that today you can walk into any centre and they can tell you their cost per carton handled and how it compares with other sites, with a real competitive edge and attitude of ownership.

Never underestimate people. If things are not as they should be, perhaps the way you are managing is creating a negative atmosphere. Ask them, listen to them.

Warmth, sincerity and good intentions will not convince everyone.

Some resist change and don’t care; some seek to sabotage.

However, genuine chances for people to grow and have greater influence in where they work appeal to most because of that most powerful incentive of personal growth and improvement. It is a positive resource to be tapped in inspiring people to strive to achieve their full potential.

Amen.

I am always quick to puncture the innate pomposity of the advertising industry (in which I have skulked for 25 years), and its clients, so I should be equally quick to praise it – and them – when it – and they – do something so very right.

Inspired, on so many levels.

Firstly, because it respects the intelligence of its audience. I have always remarked during the safety demonstration on a plane “if you really need to know how to fasten a seat belt, you definitely need to get out more”.

Secondly, because it hilariously and cleverly leverages the worldwide impact of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies on the overall tourism profile of beautiful New Zealand.

Thirdly, because it is courageous. When will advertisers get it into their heads that people are never BORED into buying anything, whether it’s a tin of beans or watching a safety video?

Fourthly, because it’s genuinely funny and watchable again and again – thanks to the quality of both the production and, more unusually, the writing. I especially love the line about seat belts, “and not so tight as you lose the feeling in your legs”. The segue into how to adopt the brace position is also very clever.

As over nine and a half million people have already watched this little video, I really hope Air NZ think they’ve got value for money. Because I can pretty much guarantee that nine and a half million people now have a better opinion of the brand, and that’s a great return on investment – and money in the bank. Well done all concerned, including, by the way, the actors, who are charming: you can all be well proud.

Like the Dumb Ways To Die internet sensation from Metro Trains, (twelve million hits and counting, last time I looked), this is a superb example of commercial information being delivered about as well as it ever could be. Fair makes the blood of a tired old writer run hot, I can tells ya.

So God bless brave, smart clients who know how to brief an ad agency, not write the ads for them. And God bless companies whose decision-making processes are not so bureaucratically ossified that the marketing team can even get something like this through the structure. In fact, God bless companies who employ people with the guts and courage to put something like this up, and then empower them to back their own judgment.

Qantas? You there? Telstra? Optus? Myer? All of you, you know who you are.

Anyone? Hello?

Hellooooooo? (Voice echoes, and disappears into the void …)

I was once at a dinner where a well-known ad man from the UK (the guy who turned French Connection UK into FCUK) threw up a billboard on the screen and called it the riskiest ad he’d ever seen. We looked at it and looked at it with puzzled frowns – it was just a very basic airline ad. Then he turned to us and smiled: “That’s the riskiest ad you’ll ever see, because it risks never being noticed by anyone.”

Yup. Wot he said. Right there.

A little while back, a big brouhaha broke in the States over a chicken fast food chain called Chick-fil-A.

The business, hitherto best known for its amusing billboard advertising, became the centre of a storm when key personnel spoke out against gay marriage, prompting calls for a boycott of the business.

Perhaps Chick-fil-A should have stuck to their knitting.

Their cause was taken up by right wing conservative commentator Mike Huckabee resulting in a highly successful protest in favour of the company’s position, when sales in one day went up 29%. However quite recently opinion polling revealed that some 13% of people were still considering or actively boycotting the business.

As recently as two days ago, the controversy continues to rumble. The long term effect on the brand is, as yet, unclear.

Now, a similar controversy has broken over another fast food company. And calls for a boycott are growing fast.

Pizza maker Papa John’s chief executive John Schnatter has criticized President Obama’s health-care law and said it will raise costs by 15 to 20 cents a pizza.

The blow-back has been fierce:

Papa John’s pizza extortion,” ran the headline for a story Wednesday from Salon, an American news website.

Vote for Romney or we’ll raise our prices” was how Daily Kos, a liberal news site, topped its story , which went on to illustrate Mr. Schnatter’s links to the GOP presidential candidate..

Some Twitter and Facebook users are now actively urging a boycott of the Kentucky-based pizza chain.

This is not what you want to see on your Facebook page when you check it over breakfast.

Nor this. See the ease with which the graphic encourages people to hit the Share button on Facebook? Be afraid. Be very afraid. You do not want this on a couple of million customer’s FB pages overnight.

But the Christian Science Monitor, for one, argues that such reactions may be overdone. They ask: was Mr. Schnatter making a political threat – or simply explaining the economics of the pizza business? Well, you be the judge.

In the middle of an Aug. 1 conference call with reporters and analysts to discuss the chain’s second-quarter results, Schnatter was asked about the impact of the new health-care law on Papa John’s. Here’s what he said, according to a recording of that call on the company’s website:

“Our best estimate is that the Obamacare [law] will cost about 11 to 14 cents per pizza – or 15 or 20 cents per order from a corporate basis. To put that in perspective, our average delivery charge is $1.75 to $2.50 – or about 10-fold our estimated cost of the Obamacare [law] to Papa John’s.

We’re not supportive of Obamacare, like most businesses in our industry. But our business model and unit economics [are] about as ideal as you can get for a food company to absorb Obamacare. We have a high ticket average with extremely high frequency of order counts – millions of pizzas per year. To give you an example … let’s say fuel goes up, which it does from time to time, and we have to raise delivery charges. We don’t like raising delivery charges. But the price of fuel is out of our control, as is Obamacare.

So if Obamacare is, in fact, not repealed, we will find tactics to shallow out any Obamacare costs and core strategies to pass that cost onto the consumer in order to protect our shareholders’ best interest.”

CSM believe several points stand out: The 15 to 20 cents he’s talking about are costs, not prices. If he was making a political statement, would he really make the point that delivery charges, based at least in part on fuel costs, are 10 times the size of the hit from Obamacare? And he is promising to cut or “shallow out” the costs of healthcare before passing any price increase to the consumer.

Is that a threat? Really? I guess it depends on what “shallowing out” costs actually means.

Schnatter is certainly no fan of the president or the health-care law. Who knows? Perhaps he will cut health-care costs by laying off or shafting his employees. But, the CSM argues, he deserves to have his words quoted in context, before another battle of the culture war is fought over fast food.

Fair enough. What is certain is that the row over his words is likely to grow. Like a brushfire. And it highlights dramatically the care that business owners and managers must take when commenting, in whatever medium, on controversial political issues.

At Wellthisiswhatithink we believe that it would not be a good thing for business to be prevented from expressing its point of view through fear of igniting controversy – it is, when all’s said and done, a key segment of society and we need to know the perspectives it holds, and why it holds them, given that “business” is somewhat opaque to the non business community.

But look out: the swamp is full of alligators, and treading warily would seem to be in order.

What a smart thing it might be, for example, for Boards of Directors to deliberately seek out and include ex-officio Directors with different points of view to their own, who might be closer to the general public, and with a better than passing knowledge of the likely public effect of policy decisions. The same could be said of a Board’s approach to environmental issues, risk management issues, (hello, BP, we’re talking to you), personnel issues generally, and many more.

“What’s on for the weekend, Bill, taking the boat out?” “Hell no, Ted, I’m heading for the mosh pit at the Midwinter Rave. Just love that feeling of mud on my jeans and getting off my face.” Yeah, right.

When companies are basically run by a group of accountants, lawyers and entrepreneurs, they can get a very narrow view of the society in which they do business. And when those same people leave work for the day, they often – not always, but often – circulate in a social milieu that usually does very little to broaden their horizons. It’s called “living in the bubble”. When a storm breaks, they are generally shocked and scramble to play catch up, often ineffectively.

As an adviser to business, I have sometimes found the upper echelons of management to be staggering insular, tone deaf to the likely public impact of their activities or statements, and completely lacking understanding of how social media has fundamentally altered the rules of the game, and as a result – essentially – they are riding for a fall.

It will be interesting to watch how Papa John’s deal with the crisis. The cost of getting it wrong will be a hell of a lot more than 14 cents a pizza, that’s for sure.

Some more examples that we have covered of how NOT to embrace social media can be found here, concerning recent industrial disputation and management actions at Australia’s national airline: http://wp.me/p1LY0z-cb and here: http://wp.me/p1LY0z-cu. A very funny and cautionary tale.

Anyhow, as we all sit mesmerised with horror at the new power of social media, my final word to managers and Directors is very simple.

For more than 2,000 years, Christian society has been based on what is known as the Golden Rule. To wit:  “Do unto others as you would have done unto yourself.”

Why not try applying that rule to your next major decision? Forget what you think is your responsibility to your shareholders, just momentarily, and imagine you are your customer. You will soon find, I assure you, that building shareholder value isn’t actually about pinching pennies here and there, it’s about providing world class products and services. World class.

Because in an internet world, world class is the new basic standard. Think about it.

More interesting coverage is here: http://www.mediaite.com/tv/papa-johns-pizza-ceo-john-schnatter-owes-president-obama-two-words-thank-you/  I note his share price is now down more than 4%. Bet his shareholders are delighted.

The grounding of the entire Qantas fleet on October 29 left tens of thousands stranded worldwide, such as these confused customers at LAX.

The grounding of the entire Qantas fleet on October 29 left tens of thousands stranded worldwide, such as these confused customers at LAX.

Hilarious story from the blind ivory tower that is Qantas, currently deeply mired in consumer scepticism and industrial relations issues following their recent grounding by Qantas management and lockout of their staff.

Click below to see just how badly wrong a Twitter campaign can go when it is launched at the wrong time, dropped into the bubbling maelstrom created by pissed off consumers and even more pissed off workers.

Stoopid, stoopid, stoopid.

http://www.theage.com.au/travel/travel-news/qantas-makes-hash-of-tweet-campaign-20111122-1nsa4.html

Just one more reminder, if it was needed, that social media is not separate from a company’s overall advertising and media posture, it is integral to it.

Well This Is What I Think’s contribution to the, er, “debate” was: A bread roll that isn’t like rock? Anything edible at all? In-flight movies that work? Clean tray tables? Smiling hosties? #qantasluxury

We look forward to hearing yours.

Qantas's famous aboriginal art-style plane

Not in the Top 10? Trouble for the Flying Kangaroo.

Qantas is not even in the world’s Top Ten airlines for safety according to this body … despite never having lost a passenger, as pointed out so amusingly in Rain Man. Not even the safest in Asia. (Anyone who’s ever flown on most Asian airlines, if you’ll forgive that tortuous sentence construction, will raise an eyebrow at that.)

Anyway, does this lend weight to unions’ concerns that Qantas is not what it used to be? What do you think?

http://au.news.yahoo.com/latest/a/-/latest/10143966/agency-names-worlds-10-safest-airlines/

Perhaps the planes have too much paint on them?

One thing I have never understood: why does Qantas not promote itself by sponsoring an international cycling team, headed by Cadel Evans, taking part in the world cycling circuit including Le Tour de France. Seems like a lay down misere to me*. I would have thought, despite the obvious investment, they’d get a hell of a lot more value out of that, worldwide, than their relationship with the Wallabies and the Socceroos, much as I applaud those sponsorships. After all, it is their international business which is leaking money; presumably, partly, through lack of effective promotion overseas.

Am I wrong? Am I missing something? Hundreds of millions of people around the world follow cycling, especially the Tour, and Australia produces some of the world’s best cyclists. Seems like Blind Freddie could see the argument, but then Qantas doesn’t exactly strike one as a very innovative or well-run business sometimes … perhaps that’s harsh … I like their Frequent Flier programme, and the way they run it, their phone support is usually very good and courteous, and their website is excellent. But they just come over as bureaucratic, lumbering and boring. Do you agree?

*The phrase “a lay down mesere” means that something is blindingly obvious or a certainty to happen, and is common in Australia/New Zealand slang. e.g. “This election is a lay-down mesere for the Groovy Party”. Its origins are in the card game “500”. In normal play the idea is to win a number of tricks bid (or more). But if a player has a very poor hand, they can opt to bid to lose every trick in the hand (“mesere” bid), and further if they lay their cards on the table it is an “open mesere” or “lay down mesere”, and often carries enough points that the game can be won in a single hand.


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