If you’ve ever been involved in a dispute with an airline, you probably know how frustrating it can be. Airlines are often unwilling to do the right thing by the customer and as a passenger, it’s often easy just to give up. But did you know that there is an advocate that may be able to help you for free?

The Airline Customer Advocate (ACA) is not well-known, even amongst our members, but it has proven to be effective on a number of occasions. The ACA is like an independent ombudsmen for dealing with complaints about Australian airlines. If you are having trouble resolving a dispute with Qantas, Virgin, Jetstar, Tiger or Rex, they may be able to help you for free.

One of our members, Bazzi, was involved in a dispute with Jetstar last year after they were not appropriately compensated for being downgraded. The passenger had originally booked a flight to Tokyo in Star Class but the flight was cancelled. They were accommodated on another flight two days later, however were downgraded in the process and sat in economy. When they tried to get adequate compensation afterwards, Jetstar offered only a voucher for $100, well below the price difference between economy and Star class.

On returning, I sent a very detailed letter to JQ – number of calls made, duration, costs, name of JQ staff both at call centre and at OOL…

QQ…After 4 weeks I received a reply and a total compensation offer of $100 per person JQ voucher. The ‘conditions of carriage’ were quoted in the reply, but I dispute that this clause is relevant to a difference in travel class.

Frustrated with Jetstar’s lacklustre offer of compensation, Bazzi turned to the ACA. The outcome was better than expected!

Finally got an unexpected and great result from JQ – $500 cash refund plus $800 in travel vouchers – courtesy of intervention by the Airline Customer Advocate. Thanks to JQ for the extra flight vouchers – an excellent gesture of goodwill.

This case was the second victory for the ACA reported on AFF. Last year, our member GaryBNE had a Qantas complaint resolved effectively thanks to the Advocate.

Do you have a dispute that the airline is not resolving to your satisfaction? You may find that contacting the ACA will help. You can lodge a complaint in writing on their website. The ACA will then review your case and you should then receive a response within twenty days.

You can read more about Bazzi’s success story HERE.

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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 [email protected]