Australians have been left out of pocket after online travel agency Bestjet went out of business at the end of last year. Thousands of Bestjet bookings have been cancelled, and many of the affected passengers are now left without a refund or a confirmed flight.
While some Bestjet customers still have confirmed bookings, others have had their bookings cancelled by the airline. This seems to be happening in cases where the airline has not received payment for the booking from Bestjet. Therefore, bookings made in recent weeks and months appear to be the most impacted. For flights operated by Virgin Australia, for example, bookings made prior to 29 October 2018 are safe.
Several AFF members are among those caught out by Bestjet entering administration. One stands to lose around $5,000 worth of Cathay Pacific Premium Economy tickets to Europe. Another member has lost Virgin Australia tickets they had bought to Los Angeles.
We got stung. Return to LAX in July next year. Booked at the end of Nov. Called VA – Cancelled. Got the eticket back in Nov but apparently this means nothing, since as a previous comment indicated, VA actually doesn’t receive the money from the intermediary until the flight occurs. I think this is IATA or CVFR. They act as a sort of Escrow or something…
We did a direct money transfer to pay for the ticket, so have submitted a trace and refund request to the bank to see if the transaction can be reversed, but this may take up to 6 weeks to get an indication of being successful or not…
In the aftermath of the Bestjet administration, serious questions have been raised about the way in which the business had been run. Several former Bestjet employees have commented on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum, and they tell a sorry story…
Jeez, why doesn’t this surprise me! I worked for BestJet as a programmer. I left as I got sick and tired of being yelled at by Michael James for doing work that he asked for and then him changing his mind. I thought he was the owner of the company as he ran it. His wife never came in, I don’t even know what she looks like. Not long after I left another 2 programmers also walked out. Michael would just sit in his office and shout. We would all hope that he would go home early so we could actually do some work!
Like many online travel agencies, Bestjet’s business model was to consistently undercut the airlines and other competing booking sites on price. This meant they would often appear at the top of Skyscanner search results. However, as Australian Frequent Flyer wrote just days before the Bestjet collapse, these cheap online travel agent tickets come with risks.
Unfortunately for affected passengers, most travel insurance policies do not cover the financial collapse of a booking agent.
Just called QBE, who we organised travel insurance through, and of course… they don’t cover when the travel company goes belly up! Only if the company you work for goes into insolvency.
However, some affected customers have had better luck getting a refund by initiating a credit card chargeback. Their experience highlights one of the key benefits of booking with a credit card.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: BestJet in Administration