Couple lose $6500 in hotels after Qantas shifts flight
QANTAS moved this couple to an earlier flight for no good reason and without telling them. As a result they lost $6500 worth of accommodation but both the airline and travel insurer wouldn't compensate. Then we got involved.
In December 2015 Sherryl and Terry Storrier bought Qantas flights from Sydney to Lord Howe Island departing November 14, 2016 at 11.40am. At 6am that day they left their home at Crookwell and arrived at Sydney Airport at 10am only to be told they had been moved forward to the 7am flight, which had already taken off.
Qantas originally told me it had notified the Storriers of the move, then said it didn't have their contact details. But later, after being shown it did have their phone numbers and email addresses, it admitted it hadn't notified them.
Asked why it moved the Storriers to the earlier flight, the airline said it was due to "load restrictions" and weather, although the 11.40am flight landed at Lord Howe.
But the flight the Storriers were put on did not and ended up at Coffs Harbour. A further attempt to reach the island also failed.
Qantas refunded the cost of the flights but in January rejected the Storriers' claim for the $6500 worth of accommodation they had paid for. The couple only sought compensation after their travel insurer, InsureandGo, said it wouldn't pay (think twice about using them).
"If we had been on that original flight we would have had a holiday," Mrs Storrier told me. "We weren't and we've lost our money."
Qantas yesterday said it was in "ongoing conversations to resolve the situation". It wasn't, until the matter was raised by The Daily Telegraph.
There is still no valid explanation for Qantas moving the Storriers from their original flight. Mrs Storrier said the airline told her it was because "certain people have a priority over other passengers and can be given seats on flights depending on their level of Frequent Flyer membership".
If that is true, it is most disturbing. Qantas ignored questions on this.
Consumer group Choice lodged a "super complaint" about airlines with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in December.
Choice said the could use its information gathering powers to lift the lid on the effectiveness of airline internal complaints handling processes and the appropriateness of remedies provided to consumers due to airline failures.
Choice also said the ACCC needed to reflect on its own lack of action.
In my opinion, you would not be reading about the Storriers if Qantas thought the ACCC was on its tail.
The Australian Consumer Law is quite clear: the couple deserves compensation.
Under the ACL, when a supplier fails to use "due care and skill" a consumer may seek "compensation from the supplier for any consequential or associated loss or damage resulting from failure to meet the consumer guarantees".
Late yesterday InsureandGo rang the Storriers to say it had reviewed the claim and would pay in full.
"Thank you," Mrs Storrier said, "although we think the airline should have paid. Qantas was definitely in the wrong".
Qantas recorded an underlying profit of $1.53 billion in 2015-16, up 57 per cent on the previous year. Its share price has tripled in the past three years