Small detail on Qantas ticket leaves family 'stranded for days'

Brooke Rolfe
News Reporter

A family have documented their holiday from hell after a mistake caused a trail of agony and several days stranded overseas while waiting for answers.

Jacque Leal claims herself, her husband Chad, and their baby girl, Lola, endured a nightmare experience with their return tickets from Sydney to São Paulo, Brazil, with Qantas and its partner, Latam.

Despite making the booking for the family’s month-long trip last year, a mistake Ms Leal claimed was made by a Qantas employee, caused unthinkable disruption to their journey.

She said the airline’s online booking system was down, so she took up the offer of an employee through its “chat assistant” function to complete the booking for her.

But things began turning sour after the employee allegedly admitted to incorrectly entering the daughter’s name with initials instead of the full spelling.

Visibly exhausted Jacque Leal and Lola at an airline desk during their ordeal. Source: Facebook/Jacque Leal

Ms Leal claimed after spending hours on the phone on multiple occasions, the airline told her the issue would be resolved and her travel plans would not be interrupted.

Arriving at Sydney Airport to check in, they narrowly made it onto their flight in time after attendants struggled to understand the mess up, Ms Leal said in a fiery Facebook post.

She said there was an issue involving two separate reservations for her daughter - a consistent theme throughout the duration of their ordeal.

They eventually made it to their stopover in Santiago, Chile, but soon realised they had not been given a ticket to board their final flight to Brazil.

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Fortunately Ms Leal speaks fluent Spanish so was able to communicate, but this did little to alleviate the stress of her situation, particularly given it was already difficult travelling with a young child.

“I’m running around with a baby in a pram and bags after a 14 hour flight, I couldn’t sit down, I couldn’t use the toilet, I couldn’t drink a water and relax, and I couldn’t give my baby much attention. I was just trying to make sure we would board to our final destination,” Ms Leal said of her horror stopover in Chile.

Eventually she was told they would be placed on a flight the following day so were asked to board a bus to their hotel for the night.

More issues ensued however; the family’s luggage had not arrived and they were instructed to wait two hours so they could pay an arrival tax.

Jacque Leal had no option but to feed Lola on the airport floor. Source: Facebook/Jacque Leal

“It had been passed almost 11 hours since our first flight Sydney to Santiago landed. We were given no water and no food, and our credit cards from Australia were not working in Chile.

“I never seen a baby looking so miserable as my baby was looking at that point. She was pale, her eyes deep and sad, she couldn’t stand anymore, and she cried in pain in my arms.”

The family eventually made it to their hotel where they were forced to remain in their dirty clothes and without the ability to buy themselves food, drinks or even toothpaste because their Australian banks’ cards didn’t work in Chile.

Finally in Brazil - but the nightmare continues

Ms Leal said the family finally arrived in São Paulo 24 hours later than they planned, and with two of their bags containing vital equipment and outfits still missing.

Despite having a month to correct its mistake, Ms Leal said the nightmare continued when the family arrived back at the airport for their flights home.

Attendants were unable to find their tickets in time to have them board the flight they were booked on, and advised that she contact Qantas in Australia for help.

They waited several hours at the airport only to be told it would be four days before they could begin their journey home, and the journey itself would take three days through the United States.

“I explained my situation, that I need to be home ASAP, my husband has a job with a timeline and he has to be back in Australia.”

“I tell them this is insanity. We don’t even have visas for America. If something happens at the American airport with their flights, how am I supposed to deal without a visa, with a baby, and with tickets that don’t even have her full name on it?.”

Jacque Leal faced hours on hold to Qantas throughout the horror experience. Source: Facebook/Jacque Leal

Three days after they were due to leave, the family finally left Brazil, however it was still with the incorrect name listed for their baby.

Ms Leal said her husband missed several days of work, her daughter missed an immunisation appointment, and they lost additional money on expenses related to having their stay forcibly extended.

“Qantas offered absolutely nothing to repair their mistake or to assist us. I have never been so disrespected by a company before. It’s disgraceful the way we are being treated.”

On July 18, the family were relieved to have made it back to Sydney and to have their horrific experience finally come to an end, however they remained disgruntled.

“We spent so much more of what we expected, we were emotionally abused, we were discriminated against and we lost work money and appointments back home.

“I hope no one ever has to go through this, it is not fair. and I hope they can serve their customers better next time. I won't be flying Qantas anymore that’s for sure.”

A spokesperson from Qantas confirmed to Yahoo News Australia the airline was “looking into this matter”.

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