Qantas has removed a four-star hotel from its booking website after an Aussie man claimed his possessions were held for ransom until he coughed up extra cash for the reservation.
Aaron Smith, a gold status frequent flyer with the airline, said he was left feeling ‘incredulous’ after turning up at luxury hotel Apollo Dimora in Kozhikode, India only to be told his booking didn’t exist.
After finally finding the booking and confirming payment, hotel staff said the rate that tech worker Smith paid in full was in fact wrong and he would need to pay them 30 per cent more — or have his possessions withheld upon checkout.
Smith explained on X, formerly known as Twitter, that he booked flights and a 12-night stay at Apollo Dimora via Qantas in September for a work trip. When he arrived on November 9, staff told him that they had no record of his booking.
The late hour meant Smith couldn’t get on to Qantas for support on the matter, but the next day the airline assured him the booking was active. Despite already paying in full, and the hotel eventually acknowledging the payment, Smith claims the staff told him that he must pay around 30 per cent more due to the site advertising an incorrect rate.
“Hotel check-in on the evening of the 9 Nov is when the problems started,” he said on X before recounting the travel horror story.
Complex structures 'compromise service'
Speaking to the airline about Smith's ordeal, Qantas told Yahoo News Australia the booking was facilitated via a third party, Expedia. But both Qantas and the hotel said they were waiting to hear back from the third-party booking service.
“These complex structures add no value, muddy accountability and compromise service,” Smith said. “I think I just feel incredulous. It’s a matter of principle.”
I’m in the Lobby of the @apolloDimora Hotel in Calicut India.
I leave in 18 hrs. The Hotel says unless they receive hundreds of dollars more than the amount agreed and pre-paid, they will hold my possessions.
A story of failure by @qantas Hotels, @expedia and @ApolloDimora.
— Aaron Smith (@Aaronsmith333) November 20, 2023
While Smith admitted the value of his possessions was ‘negligible’, he feared any other repercussions. “I also won't want to risk any issues with authorities that either makes it difficult for me to leave or to get a visa again in the future. I'm a regular visitor,” he said.
Thankfully, Qantas was able to step in and resolve the issue before Smith’s possessions were taken from him, and have pledged to work with Expedia to find out what went wrong.
Qantas 'sorry' for their part in ordeal
“We sincerely apologise to Mr Smith for this situation and have worked with him and the hotel to resolve the issue,” a Qantas spokesperson told Yahoo. “We’re working with Expedia to understand how this has happened. In recognition of his experience, we have provided Mr Smith with a full refund for the booking and the extra charge.
Yahoo understands that the hotel has been removed from the website.
Smith’s story hit a nerve with those following his ‘stressful’ travel experience.
“I feel like I'd be curled up in a ball, whimpering, or blowing a gasket coz of high blood pressure right now,” said one commenter. “I hope you're not curled up in a ball, whimpering or having a stroke. This is stressful.”
“What a frustrating experience Aaron,” said another. “I sincerely hope it is resolved in your favour but really, the behaviour of the hotel staff (or policy) is "hostile" and that's not good for business.”
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