Qantas Customer’s Nightmare Trip to London

Qantas Airbus A330-300
A Qantas customer’s recent trip to London was severely disrupted, but the airline doesn’t seem to care.

When deciding which airline to fly to London, there were several reasons that Peter, the husband of AFF member Alectoris, decided to book with Qantas.

A key consideration was that Qantas offers non-stop flights from Australia to the UK, avoiding the uncertainty of transiting via a third country given the changing COVID-19 situation. Being particularly tall, he also chose Qantas for the ability to pre-book an Economy exit row seat. Finally, being a full-service airline, he assumed Qantas would provide a good service.

Sadly, none of this turned out to be the case. In fact, Peter’s trip from Hobart to London turned out to be nothing short of a nightmare!

A series of unfortunate events

This Qantas customer had booked to fly from Hobart to London via Melbourne on 7 June 2022, and had reserved an exit row seat on QF9 from Melbourne to London via Perth at an extra $180. But things didn’t go to plan…

When checking in online the night before he was due to depart, Peter noticed that Qantas had kicked him out of the exit row seat he’d paid for on the Melbourne-London flight and re-allocated him a regular seat. Being too tall for the new seat, he wasn’t happy about this and spent two hours trying to contact Qantas by phone. He also visited the Qantas service desk at Hobart Airport, but no solution or apology was forthcoming and he was simply advised to submit a request for a refund as this would not be processed automatically.

It only got worse from there. A few hours before he was due to depart from Hobart, Qantas rebooked Peter without asking on a new flight from Hobart to Sydney, connecting to QF1 from Sydney to London via Darwin. It’s likely that the original flight to London was overbooked.

The Hobart-Sydney flight was then delayed, so he missed the connection in Sydney to the QF1 service to London. Qantas automatically rebooked him to fly the next day on QF23 to Bangkok, followed by a layover of more than 8 hours in Bangkok and connecting flight on Thai Airways to London.

Peter really did not want to take the alternative flights via Bangkok and requested to be rebooked on another Qantas flight to London instead, such as the following day’s QF1 service. Qantas flat-out refused to offer any other flights, even though there was an Economy seat still available for purchase on the next day’s QF1 on the Qantas website.

Eventually, Qantas did offer to rebook him on QF1 – but only for an additional fee of $3,000!

This really doesn’t seem fair as Qantas had originally bumped him from the Melbourne-London flight he actually booked, and the subsequent missed connection in Sydney was entirely Qantas’ fault. But Qantas wouldn’t budge – the only other option they provided was to cancel the trip.

Left with little other choice, this customer flew to London via Bangkok the next day. Qantas did provide an exit row seat on the Sydney-Bangkok flight but “only after a lot of pushing”, as Peter recounted to Australian Frequent Flyer. He then had to pay an extra $130 to Thai Airways for an exit row seat on the Bangkok-London flight.

To top it off, Qantas lost Peter’s luggage. It eventually turned up in London three days after he did.

Qantas customer service “utterly unhelpful”

Certainly, disruptions can and do happen with any airline. But the way in which the airline handles disruptions makes all the difference, and Qantas failed dismally on multiple levels here.

Peter described the service he received from Qantas throughout his trip from Hobart to London as “utterly unhelpful on all fronts”. He didn’t consider the outcome to be acceptable, but says Qantas gave him no choice by to accept alternative flights that he didn’t want and didn’t pay for.

At least two other Qantas passengers flying from Hobart to London on the same day were also caught up in this mess. One of them even ended up paying the extra $3,000 to fly to London on QF1 a day later, while the other flew via Bangkok on the same flights as Peter.

Since this ordeal, Peter has received absolutely no communication from Qantas. No apology, let alone compensation, has been forthcoming.

Australian Frequent Flyer also requested comment from Qantas. We haven’t received a response either, so we can only assume that Qantas considers this level of customer service to be perfectly acceptable.

Qantas cancellation in Dallas leaves customers sleeping on the floor

Sadly, this has been far from the only problem facing Qantas passengers lately. Last week, after cancelling a flight from Dallas-Fort Worth to Sydney, Qantas left customers to fend for themselves with no accommodation or information provided for almost a day. Qantas has rightly been slammed in the media for its poor handling of the QF8 delay.

AFF member YesYouCanCanCan was on this flight and wrote on the AFF forum:

I’m currently sitting in Sydney Airport Domestic for my connection to Adelaide. Because we missed the 8:40 connection to Adelaide, and Qantas cancelled the 10:40, then filled the 13:10 one with the cancelled people, I am on the 3:40pm flight. So another casual 6 hours of sitting around. Thanks to Qantas, I will get home 32 hours later than intended at this rate.

By the time we had deplaned, and retreived our luggage, it was 4am in Dallas. In theory we were flying again at 11:30am, checkin something like 8am. The Hyatt in the terminal was fully booked (and like 400 USD a night). So there was not much point calling hotels in the area and ubering over for what would end up being a 2 hour sleep. That drove my decision to just stay there.

Of course, the rest of the articles as written then played out – Qantas did not show up at 8am to check us in and provided no information via the app, or in person as to what was going on until appx 12:30.

Customers on the delayed QF8 service have so far been offered no compensation from Qantas either.

Qantas has offered scant apology, or rectification to me about this. The best I’ve had was “Please dont be mean to our staff about it” or similar on the loudspeakers.
YesYouCanCanCan, 17 June 2022

Qantas customers who flew on the Easter long weekend and didn’t receive any food on board due to a major problem with the airline’s caterer were also never compensated for this.

What is going on at Qantas?

If these were one-off incidents, it would be poor but understandable. Sadly, since Qantas CEO Alan Joyce blamed customers who weren’t “match fit” for the chaotic scenes at airports over Easter, the airline itself has shown time and time again over recent months that it’s just not up to the job of providing a reliable service to all of its customers. Those arrogant “match fit” comments have really come back to bite for Mr Joyce.

There is some good news on the horizon, though. Mr Joyce believes his airline is now more prepared for the upcoming school holiday rush.

The lengthy wait times to speak to somebody at the Qantas call centre have also now come down a bit, compared to a few months ago. But these still fluctuate, and it remains to be seen whether Qantas has improved the level of training provided to operators at the offshore call centres that the vast majority of calls are now being transferred to. This is arguably a bigger issue than the long wait times, and Qantas has so far failed to publicly address this.

 

Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: What is Qantas playing at?

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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]