VA irrops due to Sydney weather- shabby treatment

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blankman

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Couldn't find another thread on this but VA delayed and then cancelled a number of flights ex-Mel on Sunday night due to weather in Sydney:

My issues with how VA handled it:
1) No email / text advising of adverse weather potentially affecting operations (we received one ex Sydney for Fog 2 days earlier)
2) No email / text advising of delays- even though Sydney airport page showed our flight as delayed hours before
3) Virgin's flight status page was the last to be updated with any new information
4) All contact numbers were non operational (recording saying they have technical difficulties)
5) No accommodation provided to guests stranded in Melbourne citing "weather" being outside of control yet all Qantas flights at a similar time to my VA flight departed with a 1hr delay.
6) Staff at Melb desk were bemused when I complained that the phone line was down- my agent saying "hello we're in meltdown mode- many flights were affected other than yours". Sorry but I can understand there being delays but not having it completely shutdown..

The one recurring gripe at the service desk was that Sydney airport showed our flights as cancelled about 1.5hrs before VA notified us, but with no way of calling Virgin or getting confirmation on their own page wasted time and resources travelling to the airport to have the news confirmed and be sent on our way with no assistance.

I understand Sydney was down to one runway on Sunday night but I find it unusual that QF was able to depart yet VA was not. It's now my second experience with VA during irrops and they've been hugely disappointing both times.

Are affected passengers entitled to feel aggrieved with VA's treatment or is it pretty standard under such circumstances?
 

MH_fan

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My other half was due to fly from SYD to OOL on the first flight out yesterday at 7am. He'd already check-in online the day before. Checked boarding pass at 5am only to find that the boarding pass had changed to have to 2 different seat numbers. Further investigation revealed that the original flight had been cancelled and he'd been put on a flight to OOL via MEL, which got him there after 4pm. There had been no notification (email or SMS). Tried calling the GCC (via the premium line) but they don't start until 6am. Went to the airport anyway and met with chaos in T2. Managed to get through to the GCC at about 6:15 (whilst on the way to the airport). No flights available until the afternoon (for non-direct flights) and the evening (for the direct flights). Went to check-in counter to see if there were any other alternatives. All flights to OOL booked out. Alternative flights to OOL that were provided were useless because he had to be there in the morning. Woman at GCC and woman at check-in desk were very thankful that we understood the situation and were not yelling at them (like some other people had done). Decided to cancel the flights. VA refunded the whole amount and did not charge the change fee either. Overall a good result. My only complaint was that there was no notification of the cancelled flight and that he should have been contacted about the alternative flights. If we'd known what they were, we would have just told them to cancel the booking and it would have saved a whole lot of hassle.
 

JohnK

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Similar happened to me in OOL a couple of years ago. Staff look lost. Slow to react where urgency is required.

Without sounding too biased Virgin is unable to cope in these situations. Qantas on the other hand does it so well.
 

kpc

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2 weeks ago, we were due to fly Syd-Ool on the Friday 1710 flight...this was the day Syd was down to one runway due to high winds. 10 minutes before arriving at airport, got a TripIt notification that our flight was cancelled. As we were almost at the airport, didn't try and ring VA...got to the Syd VA lounge to find chaos. Went to service desk immediately noting that Expert Flyer was still showing a few seats on later flights but after Qing for 20 minutes, was told the computer was in the process of reallocating the pasengers to other flights and she was unable to help (not sure if this was true or just bs!). 30 minutes later, all passengers on the cancelled flight were asked to approach the service desk when after Qing for 1/2 hour, we were told we were rebooked on the 7am flight on the NEXT day despite there being 3 later flights that evening to Ool (fully booked now allegedly).... was not very happy....
 

travelislife

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Similar happened to me in OOL a couple of years ago. Staff look lost. Slow to react where urgency is required.

Without sounding too biased Virgin is unable to cope in these situations. Qantas on the other hand does it so well.

I think stating Qantas 'does it so well' is a bit over the top and maybe biased JohnK! Yes they might be a bit better than Virgin but they have copped just as much of a pasting on FB as Virgin have for what happened over the past weekend.
 

JohnK

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I think stating Qantas 'does it so well' is a bit over the top and maybe biased JohnK! Yes they might be a bit better than Virgin but they have copped just as much of a pasting on FB as Virgin have for what happened over the past weekend.
Apologies if it sounds that way.

The delays that kpc mentions above also affected JessicaTam and myself. We both made it to OOL on the Friday night. Guess why?
 

Mattg

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Service issues aside, I'm surprised VA refused to offer the OP a hotel for an overnight delay, citing "weather" as an excuse that somehow negates VA's responsibility to look after customers.

I have come to expect such appalling treatment in the United States, but not from a supposedly full service airline in Australia.
 

bubblyguy

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Mattg,

Most, if not all, airlines will not cover accomodation for situations out of their control such as weather.

The only exemption to this is if you are in transit. If you are in transit then accomodation, transport and meal allowances are provided.

Virgin do state of their website that they will provide a list of available hotels if you require to assist but that is as far as they will go with a weather disruption.
 

blankman

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They said that the weather was outside of their control and as such were not required to provide accommodation. I even asked if they had info on which hotels in the airport precinct had availability and they replied "I can tell you what hotels there are but you will need to check yourself as we're not required to provide that information". Granted this is true, but it would have been quite helpful.

In the end managed to stay at Hilton South Wharf and they confirmed they had a number of check-in's from affected VA customers and all paid with their own dime (couldn't help but ask)..
 

Mattg

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Mattg,

Most, if not all, airlines will not cover accomodation for situations out of their control such as weather.

The only exemption to this is if you are in transit. If you are in transit then accomodation, transport and meal allowances are provided.

Virgin do state of their website that they will provide a list of available hotels if you require to assist but that is as far as they will go with a weather disruption.

Interesting. Does anyone know if Qantas has the same policy?
 

Milefest

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Interesting. Does anyone know if Qantas has the same policy?

[h=3]9.2 Late or Cancelled Flights (Events Beyond Our Control)[/h]Where your flight is delayed or cancelled as a result of an Event Beyond our Control, whether you have checked in or not, we will:
  • use reasonable endeavours to rebook you on the next available flight on our services at no additional cost to you
  • alternatively, if we are unable to rebook you on services acceptable to you, we will refund the applicable fare.
We will not be responsible for paying any other costs or expenses you may incur as a result of the delay or cancellation, except as otherwise provided in these Conditions of Carriage or required by applicable laws.
 

24601

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My issues with how VA handled it:
1) No email / text advising of adverse weather potentially affecting operations (we received one ex Sydney for Fog 2 days earlier)
2) No email / text advising of delays- even though Sydney airport page showed our flight as delayed hours before

Flying ex Sydney got both texts and emails warning of possible delays. All good for me and I was happy enough, just a delayed flight. However, it does bring to mind the inconsistency that people often mention in regard to VA.
 

lang_13

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sigh...similar experience here trying to get from mel - syd on sunday afternoon. rebooked onto 4 flights - all delayed and eventually cancelled. no notification of any of the changes - ended up having to phone call centre repeatedly. on one occasion their website was showing cancelled, however phone rep said it was still scheduled. so back on the phone 5 mins later.

10pm still at airport, rep would not rebook flight for next day in the lounge, told to wait for email with new itinerary - which never arrived. No help trying to find accommodation either. after phoning again - rebooked on 9am the following morning. checked website in the morning, flight cancelled - surprise, surprise no new itinerary sent through either. back on phone and advised i had been moved to 11am. greeted by sour faced service agent at premium entrance - who at least got me out at 10am.

yes the weather is not VAs fault, but the way they handle the fallout leaves a lot to be desired
 

JohnK

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They said that the weather was out of their control and as such were not required to provide accommodation.
Interesting. At OOL I received accommodation for the night, cabcharge voucher, meal voucher and promised pickup next morning. The pickup didn't happen and shared a cab with someone.

This was weather related.
 

slinkyap

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Just got back from Sydney and thankfully no flight disruptions today. Definitely a stark contrast from two weeks back when I was in Sydney on a separate trip, received notification from VA via e-mail regarding possible cancellation due to strong winds. Was lucky flight didn't get cancelled though.

Definitely feel sorry for those affected by the crazy Sydney weather over the weekend!!
 

Mattg

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9.2 Late or Cancelled Flights (Events Beyond Our Control)

Where your flight is delayed or cancelled as a result of an Event Beyond our Control, whether you have checked in or not, we will:
  • use reasonable endeavours to rebook you on the next available flight on our services at no additional cost to you
  • alternatively, if we are unable to rebook you on services acceptable to you, we will refund the applicable fare.
We will not be responsible for paying any other costs or expenses you may incur as a result of the delay or cancellation, except as otherwise provided in these Conditions of Carriage or required by applicable laws.

Also interesting - thanks for posting this.

However, this seems to be in direct contradiction to the Qantas Customer Charter (and my own personal experience). Point 3 of the Customer Charter states:

If your travel with Qantas is disrupted for reasons that are outside our control and you are away from your home port, we will provide overnight accommodation.
 

andye

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Our VA CNS-SYD flight was delayed then diverted on Saturday to BNE.
Received regular updates via tripit (not from VA) about the delays. Didn't check in too early as knew it was delayed-just as we were standing by the kiosk, received a call from the VA lounge asking if we planned to check in.
No problems accessing VA lounge with Mrs andye and 3 sons
Was not at all surprised to be diverted given the estimated landing time at SYD was 2320.
Briefed in baggage hall on procedure. All 5 of us (across 3 PNRs) transported by coach to Rydges Fortitude Valley and put up in family room (felt high quality). Well worth getting the seats at front of coach as queue was long for rooms to be allocated.
Informed we would receive details of revised flights overnight and could spend up to $50 per person on food and non-alcoholic drinks. No restaurant service available by that time of night.
Received revised flight times by text and email for 2 PNRs but needed to call (long wait) to check the 3rd (an EY redemption) was on the same flight. Also a typed note under door which we din't see immediately
Very good breakfast at Rydges then coach transfer to BNE. Minibar bottle of wine did turn out covered by VA after all. Again no problems accessing lounge. A330 to SYD
Baggage came out of wrong carousel
Pretty reasonable irrops overall
 

bubblyguy

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Also interesting - thanks for posting this.

However, this seems to be in direct contradiction to the Qantas Customer Charter (and my own personal experience). Point 3 of the Customer Charter states:

I wonder if this means if you are actually away from your home or if you need to be in transit.

Would be interesting to see whether the conditions of carriage or the customer charter wins. Very weird that there would be such a conflict.
 

Milefest

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Also interesting - thanks for posting this.

However, this seems to be in direct contradiction to the Qantas Customer Charter (and my own personal experience). Point 3 of the Customer Charter states:

That's interesting, how confusing. :confused:
 

Mattg

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I wonder if this means if you are actually away from your home or if you need to be in transit.

Would be interesting to see whether the conditions of carriage or the customer charter wins. Very weird that there would be such a conflict.

Good question, and not one that I have an answer to. In my personal experience, I've found that QF always looks after you by providing a hotel etc. if needed. So in practice, I suspect that their Customer Charter would win.

However, from a legal standpoint I'd say their conditions of carriage would probably win. As a customer, you agree to the conditions of carriage at the time of booking. You don't agree to the Customer Charter when booking - it seems to be more about what Qantas aims to provide, rather than a guarantee.

I would note that Virgin doesn't have this clause in its own Guest Charter.
 
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