Duplicate Booking – an honest, but expensive, mistake

This week, one of our members found out that loyalty does not always help when it comes to rectifying an honest, albeit expensive, mistake and was keen to share

On Monday night, due to a communication breakdown (I had not realised my Aunty was also booking my mothers flights) we each booked a return flight for my mother, Melbourne/Singapore, in November. In the morning I emailed and faxed Qantas explaining the mistake, acknowledging that I was aware of the fare conditions, hoping for a little compassion, given my mother does receive a pension and can not afford the two airfares.

Many countries around the world have put into law consumer protection that assists in these circumstances. One of the well known ones is the Department of Transport in the USA, who require airlines to refund a non-refundable airfare made at least 7 days in advance in full, so long as its within 24 hours of booking, for any reason. Sadly in Australia, no such consumer protection exists. Full details of the DOT rule can be found HERE.

So while there may not be any law locally about a “cooling off” period, there is nothing to stop airlines making their own policy. While Virgin, Tiger and others don’t appear to have one, Qantas does. If you make a mistake when making a booking online at Qantas.com, you can get it fixed for free. You just need to ring them on the same day. This does not seem to be too generous as our member’s note, especially if you do your bookings at night

Same Day No Mistake | Qantas Which is a bit inequitable for people who book in the evening vs booking in the morning. It really should be 24 hours.

Sadly, in this case the mistake was only discovered the next day. With no chance of a refund, some might suggest leaving the two bookings in place, allowing the possibility of extra room on the flights for the traveller. Unbeknown to many, Qantas regularly run checks on each flight looking for duplicates. If they find two bookings for the same traveller, one must be cancelled (often with no refund) unless it’s been made via the call centre for a “comfort seat”.

So it seems our traveller is left with a credit to use for their mum, who may or may not be travelling again given her age and health. If she does, extra fees will be payable and of course the credit needs to be booked within a year. As a result, our member has decided it’s time to let their money do the talking, and shop elsewhere for airfares in the future.

Do you think they are doing the right thing and were hard done by? Does Australia need more laws to help protect consumers, such as a “cooling off” period where things can be changed or refunded?

Have your say HERE.


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