Jetstar blasted for 'ruthless' treatment of terminally ill mum seeking ticket refund

Samuel Hussey
News Reporter

A young Newcastle woman has criticised Jetstar over the “cold-hearted” treatment she and her terminally ill mum received after being forced to cancel flights due to the 57-year-old’s deteriorating illness.

When Ashlee Brown, 22, booked a trip to the Gold Coast in May last year, she knew that it was likely to be the last holiday she would ever get to take with her mum, Pauline.

Pauline had been battling a rare form of liver cancer for the past year, but when her condition started to plateau, they both jumped at the opportunity to spend some quality mother-daughter time together.

Unfortunately in the days leading up to their Jetstar flights out of Newcastle Airport, Mrs Brown’s condition began to rapidly deteriorate, eventually to the point where they knew their trip was no longer a possibility.

Don, Ashlee and Pauline Brown at her 21st birthday. Pauline passed away in August after a year-long battle with liver cancer. Image: Supplied
The pair were unable to take their Jetstar flight to the Gold Coast. Image: Getty

Ashlee said they notified the airline of their situation and provided the required doctor’s certificate, verifying her condition, with more than 24 hours notice.

After a lengthy exchange with the airline the Browns were not offered a refund, but vouchers that had to be used within six months. A disappointing outcome given Pauline was not likely to be able to fly again.

“No one there is compassionate,” Ashlee said.

“They are so strongly uncaring.”

Sadly in August, Mrs Brown passed away, leaving the tight-knit Newcastle family utterly devastated.

In the months after her mother’s death, Ashlee’s grief saw the matter with Jetstar put on the back-burner, eventually resulting in her best friend, Jessica Carson, leading the charge to hold the airline accountable for what she described as “disgusting behaviour”.

“They wouldn’t refund any of the trip,” Ms Carson confirmed.

“They just ruthlessly give you the same answer, telling you their policies again and again… I heard the same thing 10 times from 10 different people.

“They just had no compassion whatsoever.”

Ashlee Brown and her best friend Jessica Carson slammed Jetstar for how they handled the matter. Image: Suppliedsed

“If a terminally ill person does not fall under your refund policy, who does?”

Ms Carson went on to deliver a scathing post on the official Jetstar Facebook page that resulted in various calls to boycott the airline.

But among the hundreds of sympathetic comments, it was one from a Jetstar social media representative that reignited their anger.

“If you’ve purchased a Starter fare, you will be subject to change fees and fare difference to make a changes in your booking, under our fare rules,” part of the response read.

It appeared to be in response to Jessica and Ashlee trying to make use of the vouchers by attempting to changing the voucher into another name, but being charged hundreds of dollars in fees.

Teeghan, Jess and Ashlee were hoping to change the dates and names on the tickets so they could go a girls trip together. Image: Supplied

A Jetstar spokesperson told Yahoo News the airline had “missed the mark” in how it handled the situation.

He said the airline regretted the manner in which they handled the initial exchanges with Ashlee and Jessica, but that they had since been in touch to rectify the issue and offered to waive all costs on changing the names and dates.

“We understand Ms Brown (Ashlee) has booked a new trip with the voucher and would like to make changes to the upcoming booking,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

“While there are fees that usually apply to change bookings, we are reaching out to Ms Brown directly to assist with these changes at no cost given the circumstances.”

Along with friend Teeghan, the girls now plan on taking the trip to the Gold Coast but are calling on the airline to re-evaluate their policies and the manner in which they handle such delicate situations.

Ashlee said the airline’s approach had been ridiculous.

“You know that big companies like this are pretty money hungry, but to think that they are so staunch standing by their policies at a time like this is unbelievable,” she said.

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