/ 07 May 2024

Not exactly jumping for joy


The Squiz 

Over 86,000 Qantas customers who purchased tickets for ‘ghost flights ‘ – aka ones that had already been cancelled – will receive between $225-$450 following a lawsuit by the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC). The consumer watchdog took legal action after the airline sold the fares despite knowing they’d never take off in a move ACCC chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb labelled “egregious and unacceptable”. Qantas boss Vanessa Hudson acknowledged they fell short of their own expectations and said they’re “sincerely sorry”. 

Who’s getting the payments?

The settlement will cost the flying kangaroo $120 million – $20 million for payments to passengers and a $100 million civil penalty. It comes after Qantas booked/re-booked passengers on flights due to depart between 1 May 2022 and 10 May this year after it had already decided to cancel them. It also covers their failure to adequately notify customers – taking up to 48 days in some cases – and offering flight credits with hard-to-use expiry dates for trips impacted by Covid-19. Affected customers will get $225 for domestic or $450 for international tickets – on top of any other reimbursement already provided. The settlement still needs approval in the Federal Court, but Qantas says it intends to pay before then. That’s prompted the ACCC to warn people to be wary of scammers masquerading as the airline.

Anything else?

As well as the payments, Qantas and Jetstar have guaranteed they will notify customers about cancellations “as soon as practicable” – no more than 48 hours later. They’ll also stop selling cancelled flights within 24 hours. The ACCC says the deal shows that businesses must “communicate clearly, accurately and honestly with their customers at all times.” But consumer group Choice says customers need a clear legal entitlement to compensation, and it’s “calling for the establishment of a new travel and airline [ombudsman] scheme and stronger rights to refunds and compensation for cancelled flights”. The government hasn’t commented on that but Federal Treasurer Jim Chalmers says the airline “should count themselves lucky” as paying up was “the least that Qantas could do”.

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