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Mother ‘forced to carry baby 15 hours’ on Qantas

March 24, 2017 Headline News 2 Comments Email Email

An Australian mother says she feels “upset and deeply betrayed” after being forced to carry her newborn baby on a Qantas flight for 15 hours.

She is now demanding to know what the Qantas bassinet policy is.

Elizabeth Pucius has alleged in a Facebook post that in September last year, she and her husband booked return flights from New York City to Melbourne, for themselves and their two-year-old.

“We were very excited about this trip, the first time we’d be returning home in 18 months.”

Pucius says she was five months pregnant at the time of booking the flights, and knew that she would have a four-week old at the time of travel, “so we enquired about the bassinet policy, given we would be requiring a bassinet, understanding the bassinet policy was a critical factor in our airline decision for this journey”.

Pucius says Qantas told her and her husband that it was not possible to book a bassinet; that the bassinet was allocated to passengers according to need, which was determined by the age of the infant – the youngest passenger being allocated the bassinet.

“On this understanding, we booked the flight with Qantas.”

Pucius says she phoned Qantas to check about the bassinet about six weeks before travelling. Pucius says that despite Qantas three times reiterating its policy on bassinets being allocated “youngest first”, that was not what happened.

“On March 1 we arrived at the QANTAS counter at JFK to check-in to our fight. When we arrived we were told that we had been allocated the bassinet for the NYC to LAX leg. However, for the LAX to MEL leg (the longest leg, at 16 hours scheduled flight time) the bassinet had already been allocated to another family. Upon boarding the A380 aircraft it turned out that the bassinet had been allocated to a much older infant that could in fact sit up and stand in the bassinet, clearly in contradiction of QANTAS’ supposed ‘needs based’ policy.”

Pucius said the Qantas manager at JFK contradicted the airlines earlier advice, saying the bassinet was allocated to customers according to a “first come, first served” basis and not according to the age of the infant.

“We both felt very upset and deeply betrayed”, Pucius wrote. She said if they had known the bassinet policy was “first come, first served” they would have arrived eight hours early.

“I was forced to nurse my four-week old daughter for over 15 hours from Los Angeles to Melbourne. This was a traumatizing experience. This arrangement put my daughter at significant risk, according to the Australian safe sleeping guidelines. I fought against exhaustion, constantly frightened that I would drop my daughter. This brought me to tears. My husband did what he could to help, but was busy providing care for our 2 year old for virtually the entire flight.”

Pucius feels the treatment she and her husband received from Qantas violated sections 1 and 4 of the Qantas Customer Charter. Namely:

  1. We will never compromise on safety.
  2. We will look after you if you have specific needs.

Pucius claims subsequent inquiries at Qantas have indicated the JFK personnel “must have been mistaken”.

Qantas replied to Pucius’s post: “Thanks for taking the time to contact us Elizabeth. We understand that bassinet seating is highly desirable when travelling with an infant and appreciate your concern in regard to being allocated these seats.

“Bassinets can be requested before travel and are usually assigned closer to departure or upon check-in. While we never guarantee seating, we will try our very best to meet your request. We appreciate that this is less than ideal however our team do our best to accommodate with available options and will do all possible to assist on the day.

“We’re sorry for the let down on this occasion and can assure you that your feedback has been noted. So we can have our Customer Care team address your concerns and follow up with you directly, can you please PM your booking reference, email address and best contact number? Maritha”.

Written by Peter Needham

Currently there are "2 comments" on this Article:

  1. bruce weston says:

    this is a case where you need to know all the facts , and I mean all , did they have 3 tickets or was the expectation that they get 2 free infant tickets even though at the time of booking they only had 1 infant , so was the expectation they get 2 bassinets or 1 seat and a bassinet or having paid for neither the infants both were to share space with parents . if the first infant was a paid infant they would have had 3 seats plenty of room and her wild claims of nursing are to be taken with a grain of salt . if they in fact only had 2 adult tickets bought at the cheapest price – well -they may have been expecting more in the realms of fantasy land and their hopes rather than reality

  2. Future.Travel says:

    We feel for Elizabeth. Having a set of twins is even more problematic. In the case of bassinets most airlines assign them at the gate…. or…. if you have a good agent… it can be done prior flying. On the Future.Travel we allow customers to request seats and make special requests like bassinets.

    There is no fantasy in getting the seats you want, you just need to understand the ‘systems’ and relationships that are in play. Unfortunately a lot of the public pay too much online for substandard outcomes. Choose the right booking path and you will generally pay less and have the ‘inside’ track to getting what you need. Someone who travels every few years just does not have the knowledge base to understand the ‘gotcha’s’ of airline rules and systems.

    We look after a lot of customers with infants, children, oxygen needs, dietary requirements, even wheel chairs and medical assistants to accompany the passenger. If you are serious about an issue… invest in getting some inside support from an agent. Airlines, unless you are a platinum flyer, will not give a stuff about what someone said at a call centre about your issue.

    Final tip for bassinets… book business class. They are almost always available.

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