Newlyweds from Queensland say their honeymoon's been ruined after Jetstar bungled their business class flights to Bali next week.
Chris, 34, told Yahoo News Australia he and his wife were looking forward to their dream getaway, which they booked three months ago, but the budget airline has turned their "special experience" into a "horrible" one. The couple, who married in May and chose not to share their last name, planned to fly from Brisbane to Bali on November 11, which takes just over six hours. But the journey is made longer by the fact they live in rural Queensland, some 400km away from their closest airport, Brisbane.
"Flying business would allow me to rest whilst flying as I will drive 4-5 hours before the flight. We don’t regularly fly business class. This was a real special occasion," he told Yahoo News.
Flight change loses couple $2000
But last Monday, on October 24, three weeks out from their flight, Chris received an email to say their flight has been changed. They'd now be flying the following day and it will now be in economy, it said. Not only were the couple forced to forego their business class treat, their six-hour flight turned into a 16-hour journey thanks to a stopover in Sydney. This means they'd miss out on their first night's accommodation in Bali — a significant $2000 for one night's stay.
"I don’t want to spend two days out of the 10 we’ve got [for our honeymoon] in airports or on aeroplanes because [Jetstar is] going to fly us through some backwards route," Chris told Yahoo News. He jumped on the phone to Jetstar but said it got him nowhere. He was told he'd receive a phone call back but claims he didn't get one.
Eventually, after "at least 15 phone calls" and multiple emails, Jetstar confirmed they'd found an economy flight on their original date of travel but not without another new issue he now faced.
"There was no information at all about the flight times or about the flight itself, other than it being an economy flight and it was flying out on the same day," he said, adding for all they knew it still could have been a 16-hour journey.
At a loss: 'They've put a gun to our head'
By Wednesday October 26, having not heard back for two days, Chris tried calling and emailing again, only this time he was on hold for the better part of two hours. He fought to have his case escalated but alleged the Jetstar representative refused.
"He just kept trying to sort it out, I kept waiting, but realised at the end he’d done nothing," he said. Then the phone "magically cut out".
While on the call, Chris was allegedly being urged to cancel the flight and was told repeatedly to rebook. But doing this would mean they'd have to pay "three times the amount" because it's so close to the date.
Chris said the battle has "taken the excitement out of [our honeymoon]". "It’s supposed to be a really happy time and we’re losing all of that. My wife has been in tears," he told Yahoo on Tuesday, adding "we still don’t know what’s happening." At this point, Chris said they felt like they "had no choice" but to wait it out and see what Jetstar do. "They’ve put a gun to our head. There’s nothing we can do," he said adding, "we're stuck."
Solution after two-week battle: 'Haven't learnt'
But on Wednesday, November 2, after almost an almost two-week battle, Chris finally got an update. But it didn't come easily. Yahoo News Australia understands he was presented with three different options, all of which Chris didn't deem suitable.
"I was told others have been offered options with Qantas but in our case, we aren't. I searched myself and found a direct flight which they said definitely isn't available, but when they [eventually] searched it [they could see that it was]," he said.
"They then call me back and say they are actually fully booked but are overselling the seats so they can put us on them. But we need to get to the airport early to ensure we get a seat."
According to Chris, getting in early means someone else would be removed from the plane. "They clearly haven't learnt from this and don't care about passengers," he said. Hours later he received a call with some better news. "We are now able to fly on our original date of travel, direct to Bali on economy," he said.
Although being offered two $400 vouchers, and compensation for the difference in flight, Chris said it's "completely useless". "I never intend on flying with them ever again," he said.
"I completely understand that airlines make choices and yes, plans are going to change. But the options and solutions they’re giving [shows they] don’t give a sh*t about us."
Jetstar's reason for flight change
A Jetstar spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia the airline "made some adjustments to our international schedule" which impacted the couple's flight.
"Some of our Boeing 787 Dreamliner services to Denpasar are now being operated by our Airbus A320 aircraft. Given this is a smaller and single-class aircraft compared to our Boeing 787, business class passengers on impacted flights have been contacted and offered an economy seat with appropriate compensation or an alternative Boeing 787 service, the majority within 24 hours of their original schedule," they said.
The airline said impacted customers were contacted "as far in advance as possible".
"We apologised for the inconvenience and thanked them for their flexibility," Jetstar said.
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com.