Qantas apology rings hollow without proper compensation and amends
Time for stronger airline charters and greater consumer protection
CHOICE says the behaviour of QANTAS in holding passengers to ransom around the world, without any notice of disruption, highlights the need for stronger consumer protection in the skies.
The people’s watchdog says QANTAS has seemingly breached its own customer charter with the precipitate action which has made consumers suffer loss, distress, delay and uncertainty.
“While QANTAS offers expenses for passengers already in transit, those yet to travel have been left hanging on for hours on call centre lines, with too many bereft of information or a helping hand,” says CHOICE director of campaigns, Christopher Zinn.
CHOICE says that, under EEC regulations, passengers stranded in Europe should at least be able to access compensation for cancelled flights of up to EUR600, or about A$800. However there are no such protections in Australia.
“It’s hardly as if a volcano is to blame for disruption. It was a conscious decision weighing up the costs and benefits over time. QANTAS must have known the suffering this would cause and we hope the company will make generous amends to all affected, although money only goes so far,” says Mr Zinn.
“The situation highlights the need for airline customer charters which actually mean something and carry some penalties for any breaches and even an industry ombudsman to sort out disputes.”
CHOICE says QANTAS should:
• As a mark of good faith, extend compensation available to passengers stranded by cancelled flights in the EEC to all affected travellers around the world.
• Ensure call centres remain properly staffed to cope with on-going inquiries from those requiring more that Twitter or Facebook information.
• Strengthen its customer service charter to include meaningful sanctions and report publicly on its performance against the charter.
• Work with government and others in the sector to develop a travel industry ombudsman – a move which has apparently stalled since a white paper in Dec 2009.
Read more on travel insurance implications.
Christopher Zinn, Director of Campaigns & Communications - 0425 296 442