Qantas is trending on Twitter for all the wrong reasons. Passengers stranded, flights cancelled, accusations of price gouging, refunds on hold. What’s the scam?
Cost cutting, that’s the scam. Following our story on the charmed government funded life of CEO Alan Joyce and his shareholders, we have been getting lots of comments and messages about the travails of being a Qantas customer or travel agent.
The slow processing of refunds is a common complaint. John [withheld] told us the story of his elderly parents who had their trip to Cape York in September 2021 cancelled because of Covid. They were promised a credit, later changed to a “Qantas Pass” in April, without notification, and then told they could now ask for a refund “at any time”.
In early May, after being on hold for two hours, John was told a refund would be issued within ten days. Fast forward to June 11th, no refund, and after another 72 minutes on hold followed by a 20 minute conversations, John was told that they were still processing refunds from March and April, and it would be at least another six weeks before his parents could get their $1,430 back.
In other words, no refund until next financial year.
@Qantas cancelled QF8 at 2am, ~300 people in an airport. Ok, it happens. Then "we have no plan for hotels, keep your receipts", so the people with liquidity took a $100 uber to the only hotel. The rest slept on the floor. 9am when we'd been told to check in.. no Qantas staff came
— Eleanor Gordon-Smith (@TheRealEGS) June 15, 2022
Now, $1,430 is a non-trivial amount for most of us not on a government supported CEO salary package. Multiplied by thousands of refunds awaiting processing, it also becomes a significant sum for Qantas, potentially deferring costs and impacting their bottom line profit as reported to the ASX in the millions.
Surely, they couldn’t?
“They surely could, and they do,” says Michael [withheld], a Sydney Travel Agency owner.
We used to get refunds for our clients within a couple of weeks, now it takes 6 to 12 months. So while we have to refund our clients immediately because their trip was cancelled, Qantas is not refunding us and we end up helping to finance Qantas!
Michael also wrote to us about how his customers with fully paid and flexible tickets are being gouged when making changes. “The Qantas booking system (that travel agents use) is deliberately misrepresenting actual seat inventory in one class to force customers to upgrade to a higher paid ticket.”
Why can’t Qantas lose Alan Joyce and not our luggage?#WinWin
— Senators Slurry (@AgnusMunshin) June 11, 2022
Airlines are struggling to get back to normal all over the world and these types of complaints are hardly unique to Qantas, this writer waited 23 months for a Covid related refund from Qatar Airways. However, with the reincarnated Virgin Australia being a shadow of its former self, Qantas is enjoying not just the spoils of government largesse, but a dominant domestic market position, while seemingly ignoring the interests of its customers.
It’s not a good look.