Consumer advocacy group CHOICE has set up a website to help consumers complain about flight delays – after research showed that almost a quarter of flyers had suffered flight delays or cancellations in the past 12 months.
The website is complane.com.au.
A 30-second video publicising the new complaint tool can be seen below:
A survey of 2500 recent air travellers, commissioned by CHOICE and conducted by Pure Profile, found that 22.6% of flyers had experienced a delayed or cancelled flight in that period, a slight increase on the previous year’s results.
Airlines are increasingly ignoring the problem of delayed flights, with 63% of respondents to the CHOICE survey saying that no action was taken by the airline, up from 52% in 2015. One in three respondents said that the airline’s response to their delay was poor, very poor or terrible.
Delays and cancellations are the biggest hassle most travellers face. The CHOICE survey registered decreases in every other complaint category, with the overall proportion of passengers experiencing problems dropping from 38% to 31%.
Of all passengers with airline problems, 73% experienced some sort of delay, almost half of them of two hours or more.
CHOICE was reported to have received substantial funding from Travel Compensation Fund (TCF) coffers when the TCF was decommissioned. Given that most of the TCF funds were paid in by travel agents, perhaps CHOICE should adapt its complaint tool to let agents complain to airlines. That could be popular.
The only identifiable aircraft tail shown in the CHOICE Complane clip is that of Jetstar, and there’s good reason. CHOICE says that domestic flight data for 2015, collected by the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE), shows that Jetstar was the worst performer, in terms of delays, during that year, with nearly one in four of its flights being delayed.
In all, 15% of domestic flights in Australia during 2015 either failed to leave on time, or arrived late.
CHOICE is urging airlines to provide fixed financial compensation to travellers who have flights cancelled for reasons within the airline’s control.
As CHOICE points out, the law currently leaves it up to the airline (and sometimes up to the individual customer service representative) to determine what is fair compensation.
“It’s time we held airlines financially accountable for delays and cancellations within their control,” CHOICE head of media Tom Godfrey said.
“Currently, there is no set compensation for consumers in Australia when an airline keeps you grounded.”
In the European Union, a standard, industry-wide system pays compensation of up to EUR 650 (about AUD 900) to delayed passengers. The exact amount depends on the length of the delay and the distance of the flight. European consumers are also entitled to refunds on flights, meals, refreshments, phone calls, emails and accommodation.
In the decade since the system’s introduction, on-time performance at Heathrow Airport improved by 20.6%, CHOICE says.
Written by Peter Needham