A young man's video of him recalling his confrontation with a 'rude' Jetstar staff member has gone viral, but the airline has responded saying it has been given 'a different version of events'.
Jayden Clark, 21, said he was still shaking as he recorded video for his thousands of TikTok followers telling them of the 'abuse' he suffered from the Jetstar representative at Melbourne International Airport on Tuesday before flying to LA.
He said the Jetstar staff member threatened to call the police on him if he didn't sit down after he had taken a photo of her. Mr Clark told his followers how rattled he was by the experience, but a marketing expert has weighed in saying airlines are an easy target for online content creators who often exaggerate stories to attract an audience.
Mr Clark, from Adelaide, said he had a flight with partnering airline Fiji Airways and went up to a Jetstar staff member behind a desk, asking whether he was at the right terminal.
"I get that everybody has bad days and can be snappy at times, but I've never experienced any customer service like this," he said in a TikTok on Tuesday.
"I froze for a second because she had her walkie talkie and I thought she might be busy and she just stared at me like this," he said mimicking her frown.
Now a little unnerved he continued to approach the staff member to ask if he was at the right terminal.
"She asked me what airline I'm flying with, and I said Fiji Airways and she points to her uniform and says 'I don't work for Fiji, I work for Jetstar. Go sit down and wait for a Fiji employee'."
Mr Clark explained he was taken back and that he also been on the phone to his mum the entire time.
"I took one AirPod out to ask a question — and she could hear everything so I said to her 'yeah I know, she was so rude'.
He claims the Jetstar employee overheard the conversation and "yells 'don't whinge' across the counter in front of everyone sitting around [him]."
Deciding to take a "sneaky photo" of the employee, he claims the woman, who was apparently the manager on duty, came over "right up in [his] face] and told him to delete the photo, threatening to call the Australian Federal Police on him if he doesn't sit down.
Mr Clark said the experience left him "shaking" — already "anxious" from flying alone internationally — and expecting some sort of resolve from Jetstar. He said he emailed the airline about the experience.
Jetstar challenges Adelaide man's 'abuse' claims
The airline has however challenged his version of events, telling Yahoo News Australia they've spoken to their team member, who has "a different version of events to Mr Clark".
"However, we take all feedback and complaints seriously and our customer team has reached out to better understand his perspective," the Jetstar spokeswoman said.
'Airlines an easy target for online ridicule'
While airlines have been much maligned in recent years, big corporations like Jetstar, owned by Qantas, are an easy target for online ridicule says Sara Quach Thaichon, senior lecturer from the Department of Marketing at Griffith University.
"When online popularity is measured by likes and shares, some people are driven to exaggerate their stories to garner attention and validation from their online audience," she spoke generally to Yahoo News Australia.
"While not everyone resorts to targeting big companies for fame and popularity and many have legitimate reasons, it has become a common phenomenon as some individuals seek to leverage the reputation and reach of established brands to boost their own online visibility as a shortcut to being noticed in the vast sea of content.
"Online audiences are more emotionally invested in stories that are personal and resonate with their own experiences. Therefore, individuals who embellish stories to challenge big companies are often perceived as authentic and relatable, and can capture the sympathy and attention of their online audience."
TikToker disappointed by Jetstar's response
Mr Clark has maintained his story is truthful and has claimed he has not received "a slight indication of an apology or accountability," from the airline.
"Instead they had chosen to portray an image of my character to be lying unnecessarily over an anger outrage of one of their staff members," he told Yahoo.
"I have been a loyal customer of both Jetstar and Qantas for years, and I have never ever been left so disappointed and helpless by a company — especially with the higher standard you’d expect from a company of their scale.
"I have had many many people (including quite a few flight attendants, some employees of the company) come forward with similar stories and a bunch of support, which I am extremely thankful for."
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