The level of airline service descended steadily in CHOICE's latest annual travel trends survey, with satisfaction ratings for all domestic airlines down since the 2016 survey. Jetstar once again came rock bottom in travellers' rankings. Holiday problems plagued 48% of Aussie travellers in the 12 months to July 2017 with a third of those having problems with flights.
"Despite that, many aren't taking up the fight with their airline," says CHOICE head of media Tom Godfrey.
Aussie travellers are so fed-up with the airline industry, two-thirds of them didn't complain when they were left stranded. 37% of people who didn't complain said they thought their complaints wouldn't achieve anything, while 34% thought the complaints process itself is a hassle.
Time to complane
The difficulty of complaining to the airlines is a consistent theme of
CHOICE's research, prompting the launch of complane.com.au. Instead of
digging around airline sites for a complaint form, file your complaint on
complane.com.au and we send it to the airline for you.
62% of people said no action was taken by the airline when they experience a delay
By using complane.com.au, you can also help our fight for a fairer airline
industry. We used travellers' experiences to lodge a
super complaint on the airline industry
with the ACCC in 2016. A super complaint is a mechanism we use when the
level of complaints in a given sector have reached epidemic proportions.
The most common flight problems experienced were delays and cancellation,
with people flying on budget airline Jetstar more likely to experience a
flight delay or cancellation.
63% of flight problems experienced were delays and cancellations
Although you book your flight to leave and land at a specific time, in
Australia, airlines don't guarantee those flight times.
And if your flight is delayed or cancelled, it's at the
airlines' discretion if they provide any compensation
– six in ten people told us their airline took no action. Contrast that to
the European model, a clear-cut scheme where flyers receive a set
compensation amount (depending on flight distance) if a flight arrives three
hours or more after it was scheduled, is cancelled or overbooked.
"With delays and cancellations a top problem for Aussie travellers, CHOICE
is calling on the domestic airline industry to provide fixed financial
compensation to travellers who have flights cancelled or delayed for
reasons within the airline's control," says Godfrey.
"An industry-wide system of standardised compensation already exists in the
European Union, so it's hardly a stretch for Australian consumers to get
the same guarantees for a service they paid for.
"Whether it's a missed business meeting, family dinner or even a wedding,
Aussie travellers shouldn't have to pay for the airline's mistakes."
Three quarters of travellers said they were covered by travel insurance for
their last international holiday. But younger people seem less likely to
take out travel insurance, with only 51% of travellers aged under 22
stating they were covered.
Coinciding with 2016 research commissioned by the Insurance Council of
Australia and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade into
Australians' travel insurance behaviour, our research finds travellers have little understanding of their travel
insurance. CHOICE's 2016
survey found 42% of consumers read none or almost none of the
terms and conditions when signing up to a product or service online.
Travellers believe they're covered for events they're unlikely to have
cover for – two out of three (66%) assume their travel insurance covers for
insolvency or bankruptcy of travel agents or providers, however less than a
third of policies actually provide this cover.
CHOICE reviews of
230 travel insurance policies
combined with case studies highlight serious issues with travel insurance
exclusions and consumer understanding of policies, including in relation to
mental health, specialty sports and alcohol exclusions.
43% of people rated car-hire companies' response to their complaint 'Poor to terrible'
The survey found consumers have the greatest dissatisfaction with car
rental companies' response to complaints (43%), closely followed by travel
insurers (41%) and airlines (38%). Our
consumer rights advice service regularly receives enquiries related to
unfair practices in the car hire industry.
Car hire contracts are complex documents, particularly for people with
English as a second language. And when you're standing in a car rental
agency queue at a crowded airport after a long flight, your time and
capacity to read and understand a 24-page 10,900-word hire agreement is
So we're expanding our research into
consumers' experiences of the car hire industry
with an analysis of car hire contracts, loss damage waiver and excess
reduction products, customer service and booking processes.
The Online Research Unit, on behalf of CHOICE, surveyed 2506 Australians
aged 18–75 years from 19 June to 12 July 2017 who took a domestic
flight for a holiday in the past 12 months and at least one international
flight in the last two years. The data has been weighted to be
representative of the Australian population as per ABS Census 2016.