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Spotlight on rules as couple ‘denied boarding by Qantas’

April 6, 2018 Headline News 1 Comment Email Email

The plight of a British couple who missed out on a five-night holiday in China because Qantas staff in New Zealand mistakenly refused to allow them on a flight to Beijing has highlighted the comparative lack of consumer protection for passengers on Australian airlines.

Reports from Britain say Qantas offered the couple just AUD 250 each over the blunder. In Europe they would have been entitled to a much greater sum, under EU rules.

An account in Britain’s Independent says the couple visited New Zealand and planned to visit Beijing on the way back home to the UK, making use of China’s new 144-hour visa-exemption policy. After their planned Beijing break, the couple were booked to fly back home to the UK via the UAE.

On 13 March 2018, Qantas check-in staff at Christchurch Airport reportedly denied them boarding because they didn’t have a visa for China. Their request to fly to Sydney and sort out the problem at Qantas head office was also refused.

The report says the couple had to forget China and book new flights on Emirates from Christchurch to London via Dubai for the equivalent of AUD 2127. The whole process meant they spent 54 hours in transit returning home. To then be offered AUD 250 each, a sum they considered inadequate and unacceptable, was the last straw.

In its Customer Charter, Qantas states:

In the unlikely event that your flight is delayed overnight for reasons within our control and you are away from your home port, we will provide you with meals, accommodation and transfers.

The Charter also states:

Our aim is to resolve any complaint or concern where it happened so we encourage you to speak to our staff at the point where the issue has occurred. Whether it be making a booking, at the airport, on board our aircraft or any other area of the Qantas service experience, our people are here to help and welcome the opportunity to make things right.

The remarkably disparity between EU and Australian law on passenger compensation has drawn comment before.

Sydney-based specialist travel and tourism lawyer, Anthony Cordato, has noted previously: “In Europe, EU reg. 261/2004 requires a lump sum compensation to be paid for the inconvenience caused by a flight delay. The amount payable for flight delays of 4 hours or more is EUR 600 [now AUD 956], where the flight distance is more than 3500 km, and the delayed flight is between a EU Airport and a non-EU Airport. No compensation is payable if the delay was caused by extraordinary circumstances which could not have been foreseen even if the airline took all reasonable precautions.”

Commenting on an earlier major flight delay affecting a Qantas service through Dubai at the end of 2016, Cordato stated: “There is no equivalent to EU reg. 261/2004 in Australia. And so, from a legal perspective, all that Qantas needs to ensure is that passengers are properly cared for. Compensation for inconvenience is not required to be paid.”

For more on that earlier instance, see: Flight Delays In Dubai – Qantas Needs To Lift Its Game!

In the latest case involving Qantas and the British couple in Christchurch, the situation is further complicated because it was not a matter of a delayed flight.

Written by Peter Needham

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. Future.Travel says:

    This story is repeated every day around the globe. While in this case the airlines associated to the problem is Qantas, it could’ve been any Airline. The guess is the person at the check-in counter Christchurch was ‘hire a warm body’, possibly not even a Qantas employee.

    The hiring of casual staff by airlines, or contracting it out to a third-party vendor, makes for an unlimited number of disastrous results as you get unqualified people doing check-in’s. Qantas hass paid for the lack of unqualified representatives of their company at check-in With a lot more free social media advertising on their blemish.

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