HLO Day 4: When Your Qantas Club Card Dies

qantaskioskMy BlackBerry may have staged the first crash of the Hand Luggage Only project, but now it's been overtaken by a permanent failure in a much simpler bit of equipment: my Qantas Club/Frequent Flyer card.

One of the reasons I've thought travelling with a single bag would be easy was that Qantas has check-in kiosks at most major airports, meaning I could get a boarding pass without having to queue or get hassled by check-in staff. The fastest way of using the machine is to whack your Qantas card in there. Or rather, it would be the fastest if the machine decides it can read the card.

When it didn't work in Sydney last week, I could discount that as a one-off. But it didn't work in Adelaide when I tried to check in today either, failing in both the kiosk and at the service desk. So in functional terms the card's a write-off. Why, I have no idea — it's stored no differently in my wallet to any of the other still-working credit and membership cards.

Eventually, I'll ring and order a replacement, but that's no help to me during a month on the road. Hopefully the credit card I booked the flights with will perform the same task. If not, I'll be spending more time in queues than I planned.

Throughout May 2009, Lifehacker Australia editor Angus Kidman will be travelling throughout Australia with just one carry-on bag for the Hand Luggage Only project.


    No big deal - normally you can check in at the machines with your booking reference, or sometimes just your flight number and surname. Another 10 seconds max. So long as it still works its magic getting you into the lounge you'll hardly notice the difference. :)

    Angus, I wouldn't stress about that too much. I use my card when checking in and it works about 80% of the time. The other 20% I have to punch in my details. I have no idea why this happens, but I wouldn't throw out the card just yet.

    The check-in kiosks allow you to type the confirmation number in and get your ticket right?

    With Qantas, I get that randomly. No idea why.But if it also happens at the service desk, sounds like it is borked as against an instant check-in robot simply ignoring it.

    Has it been near any pigs of late? Ham sandwich? Pork and apple sauce roll. Coffee made with boar water? Truffles?

    Actually in seriousness, I'd like to know your location itinerary (not the dates necessarily). Are you going anywhere that could cause difficulty and test the #hlo process? eg Coober Pedy, Halls Creek, Hobart ;-)

    I agree with the others. The booking reference is just as easy if you have it sitting at the top of your travel papers.

      Flicking a card in and out is easier and quickier than typing in something on a touchscreen -- though the time difference is the kind of thing that only someone overly obsessed with getting through airports as quickly as possible would worry about. Unfortunately, I'm that person.

    try giving the magnetic strip a good wash. I had a similar problem with a debit card that was very fussy: gave it a scrub with warm soapy water and works a charm now.

    When I was in America 2 years ago I was amazed that all I had to do was put my credit card in the machine and it found my flight without me even typing a thing.

    The really amazing part, I didn't use that credit card to make the booking, it was made through a travel agent.

    It really shows up how bad the QANTAS system is when 18 months later QANTAS can't even find my 5 character booking reference when I type that in.

    Could be worse, you could be flying Virgin ;)

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