10 April 2009

Podcasting - Netcasting. My thoughts on the concept

Depending on your loyalties, it's either a Podcast, or a Netcast.  Call it what you will, I discovered this medium in mid 2007.   I'd heard of the concept before that, but had not really bothered to see what it was all about.  And of course, I'm now a devotee.

The idea that you can sample whatever content takes your interest, whenever it suits you, is revolutionary.  However, the aspect that really impresses me is that it creates a real online community.  And more than just a community for the tech geeks, it encompases virtually any field of interest you can imagine.

The most appealing aspect of this medium is that it's not only for the media professionals.  Anyone can have a go at it with the minimum of equipment.  You can take in the excellent and professionally produced tech content from podcasting god, Leo Laporte, right through the spectrum to the completely amateur shows made on laptops with USB mics.  And it's all free to download whenever you choose.

Having an aviation background naturally swayed my interest in that direction when searching for content.  There are many excellent shows to be sampled here, covering everything from airlines to general aviation, news to politics and technical issues.  And the best part of it is the active encouragement by many podcasters for their audience to participate in the community.  Posting in the forums at Uncontrolled Airspace has allowed me to communicate with many others who, although I've never met them, share a common bond - people who "get it".

Relative newcomers to the aviation podcasting sphere are the Airplane Geeks.  These guys cover the aviation news of the week, and have a guest each week to cover various topics.  Of all the podcasters I've listened to, these guys offers the widest range of ways to participate in the online community they're building.  Email, voice mail, even audio files.  I recently decided to send in a couple of articles from local newspapers here in Australia which I thought they might find newsworthy, and was thrilled when the "Geeks" included them in an episode.  They appeared to appreciate the participation, so I sent in a few more articles & links, and now I'm the "Australia Desk".  

This is the greatest aspect of the new media era.  Allowing regular people to be active in their fields of interest, rather than just being spectators.  I'm really enjoying it, and I'm very grateful to Max & Courtney at the Geeks for allowing me the opportunity to contribute to their show.

04 April 2009

Australian F1 Grand Prix - ADF Aircraft Displays

Australian Army
Sikorsky S70-A9 Blackhawk

Royal Australian Navy
Sikorsky S70-B2 Seahawk

816 Squadron RAN

01 April 2009

LCC & Customer Service - Mutually Exclusive Terms

As is the case with countless others around the world, I recently engaged in an Internet expedition, travelling through various & sundry websites, seeking the best deal for a return flight from Melbourne to Perth. Up until recently in Australia, you had three choices. You could go with QANTAS and received full service, try it's low cost offshoot, Jetstar, or it's low cost competitor, Virgin Blue.

I say until recently because now we can also choose the ultra budget Tiger Airways. To cut a long story short, the "low" fare isn't so low once you add in charges for bags & seat allocation, and then airport taxes & charges, plus GST.

Despite this frustration, we manage to survive the four hour transit squashed into the smallest, most uncomfortable seats I've ever experienced - the type that would had to have been specially engineered to afford such lack of comfort. A great time in Perth is had, taking in the atmosphere of the Red Bull Air Races....until....approaching the airport for the trip home, the phone rings. It's Tiger Airways "Customer Service" people telling me that my return flight has been cancelled due to a defective aircraft. You're booked on the same flight tomorrow, I'm informed, followed by the line going dead.

After taking a few seconds to process this information, I call back and request further information. I'm promptly told that NO, you can't go on the next flight, NO you can't have a refund, NO we couldn't care less that you have no accomodation for the night (oh, and NO, we won't provide you any either), NO this, NO that, but take the flight we offered you or go away and don't bother us. Abrupt, rude, and utterly maddening. I inform this person that I'll speak to her at the airport in 10 minutes time.

Arriving at the check-in counter, I find that the person I spoke to does not work for Tiger Airways, but for a contractor, and doesn't know anything more, and won't be offering any further help. She finally suggests that I call their "customer service centre" for help. This is negated by a fellow passenger who says he just tried that, but the call centre closed at 7pm Melbourne time! She even had the gall to challenge my knowledge of airline practices, which at least afforded me the small pleasure of outlining my pilot ratings, assuring her that my knowledge was probably a little better than hers.

Pathetic. We eventually made it back to Melbourne 24 hours late, no apologies from Tiger Airways, no good will, nothing. And to think this two-bit operation is partially funded by Singapore Airlines, one of the wealthiest airlines on the planet!

After reading and listening to dozens of similar stories just like this regarding Tiger Airways, and other airlines of it's ilk, I'm convinced that these operators embody everything that's negative about the airline industry these days. Poor service and poorer attitude. To date, Tiger Airways have never returned my complaint call.

Welcome to the era of the LCC, Australia. Use them at your own risk!

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