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Jetstar fare frenzy, turtle and complaints hit headlines

July 8, 2019 Headline News No Comments Email Email

From a super-cheap “weekend fare frenzy” web sale ending tonight, to a sunbathing turtle that keeps returning to a runway – plus accusations of racism and heartlessness – Jetstar certainly seized the headlines over the weekend.

FIRST, THE SALE: Jetstar launched a lightning low-fare sale on Friday, expiring at a minute before midnight tonight (Monday 8 July 2019) – or until the fares run out, which may already have happened in some cases. Agents are excluded – it’s web only.

For the record, published levels (with various validities) include: Melbourne (Tullamarine) to Hobart AUD 42; to Newcastle-Port Stephens AUD 49; to Adelaide AUD 58; to Sydney AUD 61; to Christchurch AUD 135; to Auckland AUD 139.

Sydney to Melbourne (Avalon) AUD 42; to Phuket AUD 209; to Ho Chi Minh City  AUD 219; to Sunshine Coast AUD 61; and so on.

SECOND, THE TURTLE: Jetstar pilots halted their plane while a large turtle, soaking up some sunshine beside a Gold Coast tarmac, was removed from harm’s way.

 

The turtle has done the same thing before. Papers reported how Jetstar first officer James Fuller was forced to pull up his Airbus A320 when he spotted the turtle, an eastern snake-neck turtle (also known as the eastern long-necked turtle), relaxing by the side of the tarmac.

Flight crew stopped the plane and radioed the control tower, which told them the turtle had been removed once already but had made its way slowly back. The turtle was relocated again to the safety of a nearby creek and crew are keeping a lookout. Nobody wants to suck a turtle into the engine – least of all the turtle.

THIRD, RACISM CLAIM: A family has accused Jetstar of being racist after allegedly being ordered off a flight from Sydney to the Gold Coast.

The Australian reported that lawyer Vala Setareh and wife Dona Hooshmand were travelling with their two children and a grandparent when an altercation broke out with a senior crew member.

The family, ready to fly from Sydney to the Gold Coast in March, has accused Jetstar of racial discrimination and is reported to have demanded AUD 10,000 compensation.

Setareh says the argument started after cabin crew failed to assist them ahead of boarding, the paper reported.

After boarding, the managing crew member is said to have decided they should not be allowed to fly, whereupon they were removed from the flight, with Australian Federal Police called to manage the situation.

Jetstar Airbus A320

A Jetstar spokesman, in a statement published by news.com.au, denied the racism allegation and said the airline had offered a refund and an additional AUD 295.51 for the price difference between the family’s flight and the tickets on Virgin Australia they were forced to buy after being evicted from the Jetstar flight.

FOURTH, THE WHEELCHAIR: A mother wants answers from Jetstar, and has posted a photo of her “distraught and petrified” daughter at Sydney Airport, after the daughter was allegedly forced out of her electric wheelchair and strapped to a smaller airline chair.

Heike Fabig – who describes herself online as a mother of three (“two with disability; medical condition and bipolar”), a disability rights activist, law student, runner, wildlife carer, blogger and coffee addict – has written an open letter to Jetstar chief executive Gareth Evans.

Fabiq asks why people who use self-propelling wheelchairs can’t make their own way to the boarding gate.

Fabig says her 12-year-old daughter Billie Boele was flying with her from Sydney to Launceston so she could play in a boccia competition, a Paralympic ball sport.

When they arrived at Sydney Airport two hours head of their Jetstar flight, they were allegedly told Billie had to get out of her electric wheelchair at the check-in desk and use a narrow aisle chair designed to be used on aircraft.

Fabiq has posted her version of events and a photo in her open letter here.

According to Jetstar policy, electric wheelchairs must be checked in at the baggage drop and not at the boarding gate, and passengers are given a choice between an airport wheelchair and an aisle chair.

A Jetstar spokesman told news.com.au: “We take the safety and comfort of passengers who require specific assistance very seriously.

“We are looking into Ms Fabig’s and her daughter’s experience to better understand what happened.”

The spokesman said Jetstar appreciated the boarding was frustrating and the travel could have been smoother “and we are in contact with Ms Fabig about the experience”.

FIFTH: CONSUMER GROUP SPEAKS OUT. CHOICE, the Australian consumer organisation, has praised the decision by Australia’s Federal Court in late May to impose a AUD 1.95m penalty on Jetstar over “false and misleading representations” of the Australian Consumer Law. See: Jetstar stung with $1.95 million penalty over refund claims

The penalty sent an important message to Australian businesses, CHOICE said.

The penalty followed CHOICE’s 2016 Fare Play report and its complaint to the ACCC regarding misleading airline terms and conditions.

“This is an important message to all Australian businesses – be honest with Australians about their consumer rights,” said CHOICE’s director of campaign and communications, Erin Turner.

“Every Australian should be informed and empowered to access and use their consumer rights. Practices like claiming that ‘no refunds’ apply when they can are not acceptable in a fair-minded community.”

“CHOICE raised issues with Jetstar’s ‘no refund’ claims in December 2016,” Turner said.

“The ACCC recognised the issues consumers were facing with airlines, releasing clear warnings and guidance about consumer rights.

“Businesses big and small should take this as a message to take their consumer obligations seriously.”

CHOICE said it would continue to call out businesses and work with government and regulators to address unfair business behaviours.

Written by Peter Needham

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