CHOICE & the Consumers' Federation of Australia have made a joint submission contributing to the Government's Aviation Green Paper.
Our submission was based on the responses of almost 9000 supporters to a CHOICE travel survey conducted in October 2023. Supporters were asked about cancelled and delayed flights, their experiences with the Airline Customer Advocate and whether they support measures to improve the sector such as the establishment of a travel and tourism ombuds scheme and minimum consumer protections.
Airlines make it very hard for consumers to access rights and remedies. Consumers shared with us that they regularly struggle to obtain refunds or compensation when their flights are delayed or cancelled. This often results in passengers being left out of pocket or left with credits that they are unable to use. Furthermore, consumers feel they lack the appropriate avenues to complain about their experiences and receive a remedy.
We have heard countless stories of people going to extraordinary lengths to work around cancelled and delayed flights, including driving across the country to bring family members to connecting flights to make it in time for weddings and tours. Some are informed of the delay too late to make other arrangements and miss important occasions like funerals and holidays, as well as family emergencies. Some were able to receive refunds or compensation, but many were not.
To address these problems, our submission makes a number of recommendations. We encourage the Government to include these recommendations in the upcoming Aviation White Paper, due to be released in mid 2024.
- Establish a new independent travel and tourism industry ombudsman
- Implement minimum consumer protections for airlines that include:
- Minimum compensation arrangements for delayed or cancelled flights
- Clearer rights to refunds
- Minimum requirements for travel vouchers and credits
- Minimum requirements for customer service
- Mandated information standards
- Introduce a ban on unfair trading
- Introduce penalties for when consumer guarantees are not met
Download submission (PDF)
- Flight cancellations and delays: What are my rights?
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- Submission to DITRDCA: Aviation White Paper
- Report: A plan for fairer consumer protections for Australian travellers
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