Airlines Play Blame Game as Passenger Awaits RefundAn Air New Zealand customer is significantly out of pocket after a series of unfortunate events that none of the three airlines involved are willing to take responsibility for. While Air New Zealand, Qantas and Emirates play the blame game, this passenger is still waiting for a refund.

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Artorias was booked to fly across the Tasman with Air New Zealand, but the flight was cancelled due to weather. This member needed to get to New Zealand urgently, and Air New Zealand was taking a while to offer an alternative flight. So, they booked a new Emirates flight from Sydney to Christchurch for the following morning using Qantas points.

Shortly after this, Air New Zealand happened to rebook this member on exactly the same Emirates flight. At this point, Artorias had two tickets for the same flight. So they cancelled the Qantas booking – which was fully refundable – and received a confirmation of the cancellation from Qantas.


When checking in for the Emirates flight the next morning, this passenger used the paperwork provided by Air New Zealand. However – unbeknownst to this member at the time – the Emirates check-in staff used the Qantas ticket coupon. This should have already been cancelled, but had not been. Ultimately, this means that Artorias flew to Christchurch on the Qantas ticket. They were recorded as a “no-show” on the original Air New Zealand booking.

This member has tried to seek a refund from Qantas of the points paid for the refundable Qantas ticket. But Qantas refuses to provide a refund, saying the flight was taken and ticket used. Qantas has advised this member to seek compensation from Emirates and Air New Zealand.

Meanwhile, Emirates blames Qantas for not correctly cancelling the Qantas booking. And Air New Zealand is refusing to provide a refund for the Air New Zealand ticket as they claim the passenger was a no-show.

This is a particularly unusual and tricky situation. It would appear that the passenger has done nothing wrong. But the airlines can’t agree on who is to blame, and neither can AFF members.

Many believe that Qantas is at fault because they failed to cancel the booking in a timely manner. When Artorias checked in – after receiving confirmation the Qantas booking had been cancelled – the Qantas booking should have no longer been active. If this is the case, our members believe Qantas should provide a refund. A failure of Qantas’ systems is not the passenger’s fault – even though Qantas likely paid Emirates for this flight.

It would seem pretty clear-cut that this is a QF mistake. You cancelled the booking. You have confirmation you cancelled the booking. QF did not act on that in time. The existence of the duplicate booking caused the error (although it was a 50/50 chance)

I can’t see NZ or EK being on the hook for this. As a contractual issue QF will need to sort it out by giving you back your points and just writing this off at their end. This is something their legal department will need to look at – it goes above and beyond anything call centre agents should be expected to know or be trained to deal with.

Other members firmly believe the Emirates check-in staff are to blame. Even though Artorias checked in using the documentation provided by Air New Zealand, Emirates incorrectly checked the passenger in using the Qantas coupon.

The OP provided the NZ paperwork with the NZ-booked PNR – yet the EK staff checked them in under the QF PNR. The direct fault here is that of the EK check-in staff – they searched for the passenger name, rather than the booking reference. They should always search by PNR, or at the very least, cross-check the PNR against the name.

The majority of the fault here clearly belongs to the EK check-in staff.

As an adequate resolution has not been reached with any of the airlines involved, our members recommend that this matter is taken to the Airline Customer Advocate. This is a free service designed specifically to help with resolving these kinds of consumer issues with Australian airlines.

Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Airlines blaming each other [QF fails to inform EK of cancelled booking]

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at editor@australianfrequentflyer.com.au