AirAsia leaves consumers stranded

3 February 2015 | CHOICE is urging the ACCC to investigate AirAsia after the airline cancelled direct flights to Bali with as little as 24 hours' notice.

Flights cancelled

On Christmas Day last year, AirAsia began notifying consumers that direct flights from Melbourne to Bali would be cancelled from 26 December 2014. Instead of the six-hour direct flight advertised by the airline, consumers now face 13-hour journeys flying via Malaysia.

The cancellations were made after AirAsia failed to get approval from aviation authorities to fly the route.

Misleading conduct

CHOICE believes that AirAsia misled consumers because the alternative flights offered were not suitable for the purposes that many consumers initially bought them for.

In its letter to the ACCC, CHOICE urged the regulator to consider fining AirAsia for its misleading conduct. CHOICE also wants the ACCC to direct the airline to write to affected consumers to let them know of their right to claim back any amount they were left out-of-pocket as a result of the flight change.

Consumers are often asked to share many risks inherent to air travel, particularly around travel times and even seat availability. However, CHOICE's letter argued that asking consumers to accept a risk that an airline is not accredited to fly is a step too far.

How to get a refund on flights

CHOICE is reminding all travellers that the laws that protect you against dodgy TVs and fridges also protect you against dodgy travel services in Australia.

Under the Australian Consumer Law, if there has been a major failure in the provision of a service, consumers are entitled to seek compensation to put them back into the position they would have been in if the failure didn't happen. This might include out-of-pocket expenses, such as unexpected accommodation costs or the cost of booking another airfare.

If you've been caught out you can contact the department of fair trading in your state, or can take up the issue directly with the airline.