Qantas Frequent Flyer passengers caught up in computer glitch: 'Not right'

A Qantas passenger taking up an offer to use his Frequent Flyer points to book a Cathay Pacific flight has been left up in the air.

Frustrated Qantas passengers have had their tickets 'waitlisted' after trying to snare one of the thousands of international tickets offered under the airline's Frequent Flyer program.

On February 24, Qantas gave the rare opportunity for Aussie customers to use their Frequent Flyer points on international flights — something Sydneysider Matthew Thompson took advantage of.

But now he doesn't know if the seats he purchased on their website with partner airline Cathay Pacific are even available, with only a few months to go until he's due to fly out.

Screenshots of the passengers two Cathay Pacific flights, which say waitlisted.
Following a large international ticket release by Qantas that can be bought by accumulated Frequent Flyer points, many passengers have had their flights 'waitlisted'. Source: Supplied

"I logged on at 10.55am [ahead of the 11am sale start] and despite the website crashing tens of times throughout the next two hours, I finally managed to get three business class tickets one way from Sydney to London with Cathay Pacific," he told Yahoo News Australia.

"My taxes of $1,500+ have been taken, as too have hundreds of thousands of Qantas Points, the tickets have been issued by Qantas and to most people, all would seem fine but when you log on to either Qantas or Cathay's site it says 'waitlisted'.

A photo of frustrated Qantas Frequent Flyer Mat Thompson.
Qantas customer Mat Thompson is worried his flights will be cancelled and he'll have to rearrange his trip at the last minute. Source: Supplied

In the last few weeks since getting the tickets, he has tried pressing Qantas for answers a whopping 16 times, with the airline asking him to wait while they "look into this and call (him) back", which they "never do".

In the only substantial reply the man received, Mr Thompson claimed Qantas are "deflecting to Cathay".

"Your tickets are on a waitlist for Cathay Pacific flights. We cannot do anything aside from wait on them to accept and confirm the flights," the email correspondence from the airline reads.

"It’s madness in my view," he said. "I’ve chased them for weeks now and spent easily 10 hours on hold or on calls."

A photo of a Mat Thompson's email correspondence with Qantas.
Mr Thompson shared his email correspondence from Qantas. He was told to wait and see. Source: Supplied

Issue potentially created by 'glitch in Cathay Pacific website'

Mr Thompson is not alone, with hundreds of comments on an Australian Frequent Flyer community forum revealing other frustrated customers who also bought rewards tickets around the same date from Cathay Pacific.

Matt Graham, editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, said the whole ordeal has been "poorly managed' by Qantas and is not "a normal thing".

"I've never seen it before," he told Yahoo News Australia. "Qantas does not offer waitlisting for rewards seats. Qantas has offered the seat available on their website, this person booked it and what should have happened is if the seats are not available as a confirmed seat, it shouldn’t be offered.

"But this person’s booked it and for some reason either Cathay or Qantas has put it as a waitlist, which seems to be a glitch. It’s bizarre, something is not going right behind the scenes."

"There are a few other airlines that offer rewards seats on a waitlist, but its marked as 'waitlist' at the time of booking, it's not 'book a seat' and then they tell you ‘oh its actually waitlisted’.

Passengers want answers from Qantas

Now, passengers are faced with the growing anxiety that everything they've planned around their flight, such as hotels and hire plans (whether refundable or not), may not go to plan. And if their waitlisted ticket is cancelled, flights may be more expensive, forcing them to cover the difference.

"We have spent $30,000+ on other flights now as part of this trip, as well as accommodation and car hire in Europe and have no way of knowing if we can even get there," Mr Thompson said.

Yahoo News understands Qantas is investigating the problem and is trying to resolve the issue with Cathay Pacific. Mr Thompson has not been satisfied with the steps Qantas has taken to sort out the problem.

"How can Qantas sell something that does not exist, and charge people for it and why are they not aware of the issue and taking steps to make this right?" Mr Thompson asked.

According to the Australian Frequent Flyer forum, many are still on waitlists, while others have had their flights cancelled.

A photo of a Qantas plane.
Qantas is yet to provide answers for the Frequent Flyer booking blunder. Source: Getty

"What some people have done is when they’ve contacted Qantas, Qantas has then gone to Cathay Pacific to request that their waitlist gets cleared," Mr Graham said.

"And in some cases, Cathay has agreed to do it. And in other cases people have called up Qantas and they said they’ll sort it and they don’t."

Qantas has declined to comment to Yahoo News on the matter while it is being investigated.

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