Looking forward to a luxurious two-week holiday in Bali, Uwe Stockburger and his wife Mariella arrived at Sydney airport ahead of their six-hour Qantas flight — only to discover they'd been "downgraded" to Jetstar just three hours before take off.
The Sydney couple had booked a travel package via Qantas in January and paid $7,300 for flights and luxury accommodation for two in June. But "panic" set in when they were told they'd been booted from their flight.
"We arrived at the airport to check-in and it says we can't. When we put our passport in that automatic check-in [system], it said 'you're not on the flight'," Mr Stockburger told Yahoo News Australia.
"The flight left at four in the afternoon and [Qantas] sent the email at one. We were on the way to the airport and hadn't seen it".
Mr Stockburger and his wife were told a "weight issue" was to blame forcing many customers off the Qantas flight and onto an alternative. Left with no option, the couple boarded the Jetstar plane but were faced with another issue — the were made to cover extra costs.
While on board they learned that had to pay $13 each for entertainment, and were forced to pay for meals. "Our food came to $47" he explained. The problem is the couple booked with Qantas "for the added extras" including free food and entertainment throughout the flight. Mr Stockburger was reassured at the airport they wouldn't have to pay again, he claims.
Qantas 'not willing' to offer refund
Current flight information shows the same Jetstar flight costing $448 on a Sunday — the day they flew. Qantas on the other hand, which they paid for, cost almost double that at $842 per person one way. Their return Qantas flight went unchanged.
"They just keep saying 'sorry that you're unhappy. We understand, but there's nothing else we can do," Mr Stockburger explained. The airline did offer him 10,000 Frequent Flyer points, but he wanted his money back "out of principle".
"It's not a big ask. I will never fly Qantas again," he said. The flight dilemma put a "dampener" on their long-awaited holiday.
Qantas responds to customer complaint, offers compensation
Days after being contacted by Yahoo News, Qantas agreed to refund Mr Stockburger $584.91 per person, plus a $100 accommodation voucher for future travel.
A spokesperson for the airline explained to Yahoo the reason for the change in Uwe's flight, saying "bad weather" was to blame. They also confirmed the couple would be compensated.
"Prior to this flight departing, we were informed that due to poor weather Sydney would be operating on a single runway," they said. "This change required us to carry more fuel in case of delays which meant we needed to re-accommodate a number of passengers on another service.
"We understand how frustrating weather-related delays can be, and we sincerely thank our customers for their understanding as we worked to find the best way to get them to their destination as quickly as possible during the busy holiday period."
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