Flying in infinite loops with Qantas

April 26, 2013

One of my clients — J — emailed me some pictures detailing his frustrations with the Qantas website when trying to change his company name and phone number details in the Frequent Flyer section. Before I go any further, you should know that J has a PhD, is an Associate Professor at a prestigious university in Australia, is a software designer, has owned a couple of companies etc., so he’s no dumb bunny.

On reading his email and looking at the pictures he sent, I’ve got to assume that whoever designed the web form for Qantas didn’t bother testing it or making sure that what you wanted to do (change your business name, in J’s case) could actually be done. J sure couldn’t do it, and will now have to call Qantas to get his business name and phone number contact details changed.

Here’s what he described to me, and sent pictures of to confirm. I’ve blurred out all J’s identifying information. My comments are italicized in square brackets and prefaced with ‘Rhonda’.


I tried to change my company name on Qantas Frequent Flyer from ABC to XYZ and in the process I had to re-type my phone number and discovered I ended up in an never-ending loop of form filling.

I started out with a form that looks like this:

01. Qantas phone number

Qantas does not complain about the state of the form until you change one item – the company name…

[Rhonda: Note: J has four numbers already set before he starts. There are four phone number fields available. Yet the instructions say a maximum of three phone contact numbers. Already there’s confusion….]

It didn’t like me entering 4 phone numbers:

02. Qantas phone number

[Rhonda: The two error messages above are confusing — the first error message states you can only enter three numbers, even though there are four fields available, while the second message says that he has to enter an area code for his home phone — which was already entered under his previous business name!]

So I deleted the home phone and it complained that it must have a home number:

03. Qantas phone number

So I deleted the business number, as I only use my mobile anyway and it complains that I need a business number:

04. Qantas phone number

I then deleted the alternative number, and it complains that I require an additional number!

05. Qantas phone number

This, of course, compels you to type in the number and then you go back to (2) above.

I tried typing in my mobile for my home number with (04) as my area code and it does not like this. At the next house we’re building I don’t intend to have a land line, so what am I to do then?

The result is that I cannot change my company name!


So how does a person change their company name when all other details remain the same, as in J’s case? Obviously, the web form is set up badly in that it assumes because you are changing your company name you must also be changing your phone numbers. There are plenty of small one- or two-person companies like J’s (and mine) where changing the company’s name does NOT mean that you also change your phone numbers. And for Frequent Flyer details, the company name could well change but your personal details won’t change — most companies in Australia allow individuals traveling on company business to keep the Frequent Flyer points for themselves, so even if you work for large companies and change the company name registered with Qantas Frequent Flyer, you shouldn’t be forced into re-entering your phone numbers. Remember, J was doing this in the ‘Personal details’ section, NOT the company details section.

Then there’s the issue of requiring certain numbers. You might not want to have your company phone number associated with your personal details, or your home phone number associated with your company details. But this form wants both, no matter what.

Finally, there’s the issue of people dropping their landline service as smartphones become smarter and as telephone services are more associated with a person than a location. In the US, this isn’t really an issue as geographic area codes are assigned to landlines and mobiles alike, but in Australia we have state-based area codes for landlines and the ubiquitous Australia-wide 04 for the mobile number prefix no matter where you purchased or registered your mobile within Australia — there is NO area code associated with Australian mobile phones (see http://australia.gov.au/about-australia/our-country/telephone-country-and-area-codes). This Qantas form requires area codes for home and business numbers, so I guess someone who only has a mobile and has dropped their landline service should ignore those fields and just enter a mobile number. But wait. They can’t! They get an error message that they MUST enter a home number and a business number (see the images above).

And then they are locked into an infinite loop-de-loop with Qantas…

How could Qantas fix this form? I’ve got several suggestions:

  • Don’t force the user to re-enter their phone number details if they have changed their company name. Show the phone details section after changing the name, but don’t force them to do anything on it.
  • Make it mandatory to supply a minimum of ONE phone number only, and DON’T specify what type of number (home, business, mobile) it should be.
  • All other phone number types should be optional to the maximum number of phone fields on the form (i.e. four).
  • An area code should only be required if the user enters an 8-digit Australian landline phone number in the Number field.
  • The Number field should be able to take the full 10 digits of an Australian mobile number, no matter what type of phone number you are entering.
  • 04 should be acceptable in the Area Code field for any number type if entered along with the remaining eight digits of a mobile number.

[Link last checked April 2013]

One comment

  1. Um, 04 is the area code of an Australian mobile phone. QANTAS has since updated their Frequent Flyer profile webpage, but you’ve always been able to clear a phone number by setting the IDD Country to “–select–” (default blank value) again.

    I agree that it’s a pretty terrible page though.

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