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Disabled man slams Qantas after they damaged his wheelchair

<p>An Australian man has called out Qantas for damaging his wheelchair during a flight, and then offering him a slim compensation package that wouldn't cover the cost of the repair. </p> <p>Queensland wheelchair athlete Timothy Lachlan was travelling from the USA to Sydney when he claims Qantas luggage handlers broke his wheelchair as it was being loaded onto the plane. </p> <p>Like many Australians living with a disability, Lachlan described his wheelchair as "his legs".</p> <p>"This wheelchair is basically my legs — Qantas has basically broken my legs," he told <em>7News</em> of the custom chair he's owned for more than a decade.</p> <p>"If you go up the slightest incline, the chair just tips back."</p> <p>Lachlan now can no longer use the chair and says the saga has cost him work as an occupational therapist. He's currently borrowing a friend's chair to get around and says though he did try to fix his chair, he wasn't able due to the extent of the damage.</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/reel/C7Q68PmJYXV/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/reel/C7Q68PmJYXV/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by 7NEWS Queensland (@7newsqueensland)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>He was then locked in a bitter compensation battle with the airline for several months, which resulted in Lachlan being offered a mere $3,500, which he claims won't "even cover a set of wheels", let alone repair the entire chair. </p> <p>As part of the settlement agreement, which was described by Lachlan as a "signed confidential settlement", he claims he was forced to stay quiet about the amount he was offered by the airline. </p> <p>However, instead of staying quiet, he decided to do the opposite and call out the airline, which has taken a large hit to its reputation in recent years.</p> <p>In a statement provided to <em><a href="https://au.news.yahoo.com/qantas-offers-disabled-aussie-3500-to-stay-quiet-after-damaging-his-wheelchair-225833471.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Yahoo News Australia</a></em>, a Qantas spokesperson said they "sincerely apologise to Mr Lachlan for the damage caused to his wheelchair".</p> <p>"We have offered him compensation and are waiting to hear back," a spokesperson said.</p> <p>Lachlan said he would like the incident to serve as a reminder to Qantas, and airlines in general, to be more respectful when it comes to transporting mobility aids.</p> <p>"I am more than happy to meet with them, I invite the CEO of Qantas to jump in this chair and tell me it doesn't need to be replaced," he said.</p> <p><em>Image credits: 7News</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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Qantas apologises after rejecting cancer patient's refund request

<p>Qantas has issued an apology for rejecting a cancer patient's refund request after his case allegedly did not qualify based on “compassionate reasons”. </p> <p>Neil Ross, 62, decided to book a holiday to Cairns with his wife for a couple of weeks, but two weeks later he was diagnosed with face cancer. </p> <p>“It hit me like a rock,” Mr Ross told <em>news.com.au</em>.</p> <p>“I wasn’t in the life of me, expecting that news.”</p> <p>The Brisbane local was initially told he had Bells Palsy, but was later diagnosed with cancer and had to undergo a 13-hour operation to remove the tumour, causing the right side of his face to be significantly disfigured. </p> <p>He underwent radiation almost every day for six weeks saying it “knocked him to no end”.</p> <p>“I was very thankful that my wife had helped me and still is helping me to get through this.”</p> <p>Ross is yet to be given the all-clear and is still undergoing treatments, including rehab following the loss of muscle mass. </p> <p>He will also undergo plastic surgery to reconstruct the right side of his face.</p> <p>“I had notified Flight Centre that I needed to cancel my flight due to finding out that I had cancer and that l needed treatment urgently,” he said. </p> <p>“As I said to the girl at Flight Centre – ‘look at my face, do you think I want to get a refund for the hell of it? I rather be healthy and go on holiday.”</p> <p>Ross said that the airline issued him a credit note until April 22 of this year, but with his current circumstances, he was unable to travel before that date and applied for a full refund. </p> <p>He also claims that despite sending two medical certificates - the first which stated that Ross was unfit to fly for 12 months, and the second which included detailed information about his condition -  it “did not meet requirements on compassion”.</p> <p>“I thought ‘what the hell, what more can I do?’ This has done nothing but cause me a great deal of stress that I don’t need,"  he said. </p> <p>Ross submitted two different refund requests, one on March 20, which was rejected on the fourth of April, and another on April 9 which was rejected two weeks later. </p> <p>The email from a Flight Centre representative reportedly said: "They have advised that ‘the attached medical certificate does not fit into the GF guidelines for a refund due to compassionate reasons’." </p> <p>According to <em>news.com.au</em>,  Qantas has since contacted Ross and issued a refund, after an error was made in processing the supplementary material, by not connecting it to the earlier application.</p> <p>“We apologise to Mr Ross for this experience and have let him know we’re processing a refund for him.”</p> <p>They have also reportedly apologised for any distress they may have caused and are investigating how the error occurred so that it doesn't happen again. </p> <p><em>Images: news.com.au/ Getty</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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Outraged Qantas flyer captures "absolutely unacceptable" act

<p>Qantas staff have been condemned for leaving a pet crate abandoned on a Sydney tarmac in torrential rain. </p> <p>An outraged passenger captured the moment she saw the pet carrier, and a trolley full of suitcases, left in the rain at Sydney Airport on Friday, and shared it to social media. </p> <p>Sydney was hit with heavy rain on Friday, with some parts of New South Wales recording a month's worth of rainfall within a single day. </p> <p>After passengers had been loaded onto the Qantas aircraft, the concerned traveller noticed the animal had been abandoned in the rain.</p> <p>"Unfortunately the weather was unavoidable, but this luggage was left out in the open in Sydney for 30 mins and the animals for 15 minutes — one facing the rain," the furious passenger wrote on Facebook. </p> <p>Travellers on the same flight were quick to comment on the woman's post, saying their luggage had arrived soaking wet. </p> <p>"[I was on] on same flight, my luggage came home wet. Thinking a cover in these conditions would be nice," they wrote. </p> <p>Others expressed their concerns for the animal left in the crate in the rain, saying it was "animal abuse" to leave a furry friend in those conditions. </p> <p>"Those poor fur babies," one person wrote.</p> <p>"I'd report this if I saw it. Should have brought this to the attention of ground crew ASAP."</p> <p>A third added, "I'm unimpressed by the luggage but those pet carriers out there is absolutely unacceptable. I'd be fuming if my boy was stuck on the tarmac in a cage in torrential rain, making an already stressful situation even worse."</p> <p>"Disgusting to leave those fur babies out in the rain. Almost animal abuse," another said.</p> <p>A spokesperson from Qantas told <em><a href="https://au.news.yahoo.com/qantas-photo-catches-airline-in-unacceptable-act-id-be-fuming-222149288.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Yahoo News</a></em> that they are investigating the incident and that the airline "takes the safety and welfare of pets travelling with us very seriously".</p> <p><em>Image credits: Facebook</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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Qantas announces massive overhaul of frequent flyer program

<p>Qantas, Australia's flagship airline, has unveiled significant changes to its frequent flyer program in response to ongoing feedback from millions of members. The announcement, made at the airline's headquarters in Sydney, marks one of the most substantial expansions in the 35-year history of the Qantas Frequent Flyer program.</p> <p>During the event, Qantas CEO Vanessa Hudson, alongside Andrew Glance, the newly appointed Loyalty boss, outlined the updates to both the media and select members of the frequent flyer program. These changes aim to address longstanding concerns and enhance the overall experience for loyal customers.</p> <p>A key highlight of the overhaul is the introduction of Classic Plus Flight Rewards, providing members with access to an additional 20 million reward seats for booking flights. Vanessa Hudson said that this expansion is a direct response to member feedback.</p> <p>“The Qantas Frequent Flyer program is an integral part of Qantas and has always been about recognising our customers for their loyalty," Hudson said. "We’ve spent a lot of time listening to members about how we can better reward them . . . We’re adding over 20 million new flight rewards with the launch of a new type of reward seat called Classic Plus. It’s one of the biggest expansions we’ve made to the Frequent Flyer program in its 35-year history."</p> <p>With Classic Plus Flight Rewards, frequent flyer members can now access sought-after destinations such as London, Tokyo, New York and Singapore with greater ease, even during peak travel periods. This substantial increase in available seats – 20 million annually compared to the previous 5 million – represents a significant advantage for members seeking to redeem their points for travel.</p> <p>However, it's important to note that while Classic Plus Flight Rewards offer increased availability, they will require more points to book compared to the original program.</p> <p>This announcement follows recent speculation about a major revamp of the frequent flyer program, with Qantas hinting at changes aimed at allowing customers to maximise the value of their points.</p> <p>These changes come in response to feedback from program members, some of whom have voiced frustrations about the devaluation of points and difficulties in securing rewards seats. </p> <p>Qantas' announcement of sweeping changes to its frequent flyer program signals a significant step in the airline's ongoing efforts to prioritise customer satisfaction and loyalty.</p> <p><em>Images: Qantas</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Qantas connects two destinations for the first time in 50 years

<p>Qantas has announced a new international route that will see Aussies connected to a popular holiday destination for the first time in 50 years. </p> <p>Two return flights will operate each week between Sydney and Papua New Guinea's Port Moresby, adding to the service already running to the island nation from Brisbane. </p> <p>“These flights will meet the growing demand from the business community for travel between Australia and Papua New Guinea,” Cam Wallace, CEO of Qantas International and Freight, said. </p> <p>“Our new Sydney service will save customers at least three hours in travel time on return trip by avoiding a stopover in Brisbane.”</p> <p>The route is the latest international service to be added to Qantas’ network out of Sydney, with the airline suggesting it will support both business and trade between Australia and Papua New Guinea.</p> <p>Trailing behind island nations such as Fiji and Indonesia, Papua New Guinea's tourism industry is steadily growing in popularity largely due to containing the world’s third largest rainforest, crystal clear waters, and 45,000km of coral reefs.</p> <p>As the number of annual travellers to PNG increases, so does accommodation options, with Marriott International announcing earlier this year that they would be expanding their accommodation into Papua New Guinea, marketing those wishing to have an “extended stay”.</p> <p>“We are thrilled to establish our inaugural foothold in Papua New Guinea with this milestone opening”, said Sean Hunt, area vice-president of Australia, New Zealand and Pacific for Marriott International, in a statement.</p> <p>“This is also a debut for the Marriott Executive Apartments brand in the region, allowing us to diversify our offering to cater to ambitious and adventurous travellers who seek a premium, trusted extended-stay experience.”</p> <p>While the new tourism initiatives have been put in place to help boost the economy of PNG, Papua New Guinea currently has travel advisory warnings in place, with SmartTraveller urging visitors to “exercise a high degree of caution in Papua New Guinea overall due to high levels of serious crime, with “higher levels” applying in some areas.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p>

International Travel

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Qantas unveils tribute to Luke Davies

<p>Qantas has unveiled how they will be honouring their slain colleague Luke Davies at the annual Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. </p> <p>The bodies of Luke Davies and his boyfriend Jesse Baird were found buried in the NSW Southern Tablelands earlier this week, as police officer Beau Lamarre-Condon has been charged with two counts of murder over their deaths. </p> <p>Now, on the eve of the Mardi Gras parade that takes over Sydney's Oxford Street every year, Qantas has shared how they will honour Davies' life on the Flying Kangaroo float. </p> <p>Davies' name will be front and centre of the float, while Mardi Gras organiser Brandon Bear said this year’s festival would be a time for both celebration and mourning.</p> <p>“Mardi Gras is a multiplicity of things and we come together not just to celebrate, but also to spark conversation to make change and this year, there’ll be an element of us coming together to mourn,” he told <em>ABC News</em>. </p> <p>“We’re certainly working with the community (to recognise the couple) and we know our partners are working to use their parade float to talk to the lives and the memory of those young men.”</p> <p>The conversation around the death of Baird and Davies just before Mardi Gras has sparked a lot of debate, with Mardi Gras reaching an agreement with NSW Police saying they would be allowed to march in the parade, as long as they are not in uniform. </p> <p>A silent vigil is set to be held on Friday evening in the Sydney suburb of Darlinghurst to honour the lives of Luke and Jesse, with the public invited by their families to join them in mourning.</p> <p style="box-sizing: inherit; margin: 0px 0px 25px; padding: 0px; line-height: 24px;"><em>Image credits: Facebook / Qantas </em></p>

Caring

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“Disappointing”: New inflight Qantas video slammed for “missing the mark”

<p dir="ltr">A new inflight safety video from Qantas has been widely panned for being “elitist” and “sexist”, while skimming over vital safety information. </p> <p dir="ltr">The new video, which is set to replace an earlier retro video released in 2020 that marked the airline’s 100th birthday, features frequent flyers and Qantas staff delivering the pre-flight safety announcement from their favourite “magic places” around the world. </p> <p dir="ltr">The video features destinations such as Litchfield National Park near Darwin and Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia, as well as international places such as Lapland in Finland and Marrakesh in Morocco.</p> <p dir="ltr">After the video was shared by the airline, members of the Flight Attendants Association of Australia were quick to express their feelings. </p> <p dir="ltr">Flight Attendants Association of Australia national secretary Teri O-Toole told <em><a href="https://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-updates/health-safety/new-qantas-safety-video-panned-as-sexist-and-elitist/news-story/078aa2c55cf48e6551a40ad4c0c56011">news.com.au</a></em> the video was “disappointing” for a lot of different reasons. </p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/reel/C2dPrw_BNqf/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/reel/C2dPrw_BNqf/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Qantas (@qantas)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p dir="ltr">“Not one Australian-based international crew member was used,” she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“There are no cabin crew in uniform and there are no shots of the interior of an aircraft which are all important factors for non-English speaking passengers and those that need to know who is in charge.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“Not once does it say ‘follow the directions of your crew member’, which you would’ve thought would be the focus of a safety video.”</p> <p dir="ltr">She also questioned why a female pilot appeared in a swimsuit, suggesting that sort of depiction took women in the workplace took the airline “back 20 years”</p> <p dir="ltr">“I didn’t see a male pilot in a pair of budgie smugglers,” she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">She went on to describe the video as “great marketing”, but totally “misses the mark” in terms of a safety video, while also adding “elitist” to focus on frequent flyers during a cost of living crisis.</p> <p dir="ltr">Social media users were equally scathing.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I’d prefer just focus on, oh I dunno, in flight safety during the in-flight safety video?,” one wrote. “Why do we need a long video with all this added stuff?”</p> <p dir="ltr">Another described it as “slow, long, tedious and boring. I couldn't make it through the entire thing”, while a third person labelled it “absolutely awful”.</p> <p dir="ltr">Qantas chief customer officer Catriona Larritt defended the video insisting safety was the number one priority across the Qantas Group, and the in-flight video together with cabin crew, plays a key role in capturing the attention of travellers to watch and listen to the critical information.</p> <p dir="ltr">“First and foremost, the video is about familiarising our customers with safety procedures and we try to make it as engaging as possible, in particular for regular flyers who might otherwise tune out,” she said.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Qantas</em></p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-d006e7c7-7fff-7037-252e-b0c227e24116"></span></p>

Travel Trouble

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Qantas' big move ahead of record-breaking holiday season

<p>As the festive season approaches, Qantas is gearing up for its busiest Christmas holiday period in years. The airline has taken proactive measures to handle the anticipated surge in passenger numbers, with an additional boost to its international cabin crew.</p> <p>More than 8.5 million passengers are expected to fly on Qantas and Jetstar services in December and January, marking a significant increase from the previous year – and the most passengers since the 2019-20 festive season.</p> <p>To meet the demands of the busy holiday season, Qantas has expanded its international cabin crew team with the addition of 16 new faces. These recruits, having completed an eight-week intensive training program, are set to embark on their first flights just in time for the peak travel period. The new recruits will be contributing to flights destined for key international locations such as Japan (Narita), Hong Kong, and Singapore.</p> <p>Phil Capps, Qantas executive manager for product and service, emphasised the airline's commitment to investing in staff training across all departments, including ground staff and cabin crew. The significant recruitment efforts in 2023, with 991 new international cabin crew and 394 new domestic cabin crew, reflect Qantas's dedication to providing exceptional service during the holiday season and beyond.</p> <p>To ensure operational readiness, Qantas has brought forward maintenance on its aircraft, and up to 13 planes will be on standby as operational spares. The airline has also made a substantial boost to reserve staff to address unexpected sick leave situations. Over the past 12 months, almost 3,300 additional operational employees, including cabin crew, pilots, engineers, and airport customer service staff, have been recruited to enhance overall efficiency.</p> <p>As part of the preparations for the busy travel period, Qantas and Jetstar are urging travellers to check-in online for domestic flights, arrive ahead of schedule, and adhere to baggage limits. The airlines emphasised that bringing excess carry-on baggage could lead to delays and urged passengers to be respectful and patient during the holiday rush. Additionally, Qantas warned about potential delays and cancellations due to bad weather and air traffic control issues.</p> <p><em>Image: Qantas</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Heartwarming gesture for Qantas' oldest passenger

<p>A 103-year-old passenger has received an emotional welcome onboard her Qantas flight, with the pilot and cabin crew erupting into cheers as she stepped on board. </p> <p>Ngan Chun Kam aka ‘Mamma’, is believed to be the oldest passenger to ever travel with the Flying Kangaroo airline.</p> <p>Mamma was born on January 1st 1920, and Qantas was founded 10 months later in November 1920. </p> <p>After visiting family in Sydney for several weeks, Mamma was returning home to her native Hong Kong when Qantas staff on-board QF127 learned of her age.</p> <p>“It was such an honour to have Ms Kam on our flight to Hong Kong,” Jayson Eng, Qantas customer service agent who was on the November 3rd flight, told <a href="https://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-updates/travel-stories/qantas-crews-heartwarming-act-for-103yearold-passenger/news-story/75c4ccb9c1addc2884e7e3063422763b" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>news.com.au</em></a>.</p> <p>“We got her trip off to a flying start with a special welcome announcement from the Captain, which was broadcast throughout the entire aircraft.”</p> <p>Mr Eng said it resulted in a big cheer and a round of applause throughout the cabin.</p> <p>“Our cabin crew loved taking turns to introduce themselves to Ms Kam. We called her Po Po (grandma in Cantonese) as a sign of respect for her. She was such a delight to have on board.”</p> <p>Mamma, who has six children aged 72 to 83, 13 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren, has been visiting Australia once a year since 1979 to visit her eldest son who lives in Sydney. </p> <p>According to Mamma’s daughter-in-law Helen, at first she had no idea why the cabin erupted in a loud cheer as she doesn’t speak English. </p> <p>It wasn’t until a friend who was also on the flight explained it was because she was the eldest passenger they’ve ever flown, and she began to smile. </p> <p>“Everyone was clapping and cheering and she just felt so special,” Helen told <em>news.com.au</em>.</p> <p>The airline also gifted Mamma, who was flying in business class, a goodie bag filled with champagne and merch.</p> <div> </div> <p>“When she got to Hong Kong, she called me saying John (friend on the flight with her) left his bag, thinking it was his,” Helen said.</p> <p>“I told her it’s what the airline gave her as a gift and she said ‘well I don’t drink champagne’ – I told her ‘well in that case bring it back with you to Australia on your next visit, we’ll have it’,” she laughed.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Courtesy of Qantas</em></p> <div class="media image" style="caret-color: #000000; color: #000000; font-style: normal; font-variant-caps: normal; font-weight: 400; letter-spacing: normal; orphans: auto; text-align: start; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; white-space: normal; widows: auto; word-spacing: 0px; -webkit-text-size-adjust: auto; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; text-decoration: none; box-sizing: inherit; margin-bottom: 24px; display: flex; flex-direction: column; align-items: center; width: 705.202209px; max-width: 100%;"> </div>

International Travel

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Qantas found guilty of firing health worker during pandemic

<p>Qantas has been found guilty of firing a health and safety officer during the early days of the pandemic, a NSW district court judge has found.</p> <p>The airline dismissed Theo Seremetidis in early 2020 after he expressed concerns about safety protocol for flights arriving from China in the first months of the Covid-19 pandemic. </p> <p>According to SafeWork NSW, Qantas breached part 6 of the Work Health and Safety Act and discriminated against Mr Seremetidis when he was stood down. </p> <p>On Thursday, the court heard elements of the matter brought by SafeWork NSW were established beyond reasonable doubt and Qantas Ground Services is “guilty of the offence charged”.</p> <p>They specifically related to standing down Mr Seremetidis “to his detriment” and the main reason for his dismissal was a prohibited reason, because he had exercised a power as a health and safety representative by directing workers to cease unsafe work.</p> <p>The prosecution was brought about after Mr Seremetidis launched a complaint about his former workplace with the Transport Workers Union (TWU), who took the complaint to SafeWork NSW. </p> <p>Judge David Russell said he accepted SafeWork NSW’s submissions that Qantas Ground Services “actively sidelined” Mr Seremetidis and ignored his concerns. </p> <div>“Firstly … by cutting him off from other staff who were seeking his help,” he said.</p> <p>“And secondly, by standing him down and requiring him to leave the airport forthwith.</p> <p>“I formed the view that he attempted to carry out his duties as a health and safety representative conscientiously and carefully,” he said. </p> <p>TWU President and NSW/Qld Secretary Richard Olsen welcomed the verdict on SafeWork NSW’s primary charge. </p> <p>“This is a fantastic result. Theo is a workplace hero and today he has been vindicated. When the TWU urged SafeWork NSW to prosecute this case, Theo courageously took on one of Australia’s biggest corporate bullies and won,” he said.</p> <p><em>Image credits: TWU</em></p> </div>

Legal

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Widow "cranky" after Qantas denied late husband's points claim

<p>A widowed grandmother has been left frustrated after Qantas refused to let her claim the 6,800 frequent flyer points in her late husband's account. </p> <p>72-year-old Rhonda told <em>Yahoo</em> that she reached out to the airline after Brian - her husband of 52 years - passed away in May.</p> <p>Rhonda hoped to claim his frequent flyer points, but was met with a brutal rejection letter instead.</p> <p>While they offered their "sincere condolences", it also stated Qantas' "terms and conditions" didn't allow such a transfer, and Rhonda was asked to send through a copy of Brian's death certificate so they could close his account. </p> <p>"I know it's not a lot of points but it's the principle of it because, damn, you get hardly anything out of it anyway," she told <em>Yahoo</em>. </p> <p>"I just thought it would naturally come to me so, once I told them he passed away, I could've easily gone in and transferred them to myself without telling them but I wanted to do the right thing."</p> <p>Four months later, Qantas announced that from October they would change their policy to allow next of kin to claim frequent flyer points. </p> <p>When Rhonda heard about this, she reached out to the airline again.</p> <p>"I immediately wrote back and said that, 'After hearing the news item, I was under the impression you were now looking at this'," she said. </p> <p>"I haven't heard a word back since. I don't know if they're just ignoring me.</p> <p>"I've just had enough," she added. </p> <p>The grandmother-of-five added that she was "cranky" with the airline. </p> <p>"Everywhere I turn there's a barrier, and what's 6,800 points to them? </p> <p>"They are trying to keep their reputation intact and until I heard that announcement I was done with it. Now I still haven't heard and I am cranky about it," she concluded. </p> <p>Fortunately, after Rhonda shared her complaints with the media, Qantas eventually credited her the points, although she remains unimpressed with the "ridiculous" process. </p> <p>A Qantas spokesperson has also offered their sincere apologies to Rhonda. </p> <p>"Our customer team have been in contact with her to advise that her husbands' points have now been transferred to her frequent flyer account," they said. </p> <p>Rhonda said that she hopes to use the points for a holiday and explore the outback in the iconic <em>The Ghan</em> train next year. </p> <p><em>Image: Daily Mail/ Getty</em></p> <p> </p>

Travel Trouble

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Qantas won’t like it, but Australian travellers could be about to get a better deal on flights

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/gui-lohmann-1476773">Gui Lohmann</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/griffith-university-828">Griffith University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/justin-wastnage-489752">Justin Wastnage</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/griffith-university-828">Griffith University</a></em></p> <p>Weeks after Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce brought forward his resignation to help Qantas “accelerate its renewal”, the company’s chairman Richard Goyder today announced he too is retiring early, to “<a href="https://cdn-api.markitdigital.com/apiman-gateway/ASX/asx-research/1.0/file/2924-02723591-2A1480044?access_token=83ff96335c2d45a094df02a206a39ff4">support restoration of trust</a>”.</p> <p>But the early retirement will take place “prior to the company’s annual general meeting in late 2024” – meaning Goyder will be in the chair for a while yet.</p> <p>This will give him time to (among other things) help Qantas respond to the Senate inquiry into air services, which <a href="https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Commonwealth_Bilateral_Air_Service_Agreements/cbasa/Report">reported on Monday</a>.</p> <p>If acted on, some of the report’s recommendations would shift power away from Qantas – such as by giving travellers automatic cash compensation for delayed or cancelled flights.</p> <p>But the inquiry arguably still didn’t go far enough, shying away from bolder action already taken in Europe.</p> <h2>What did the Senate inquiry recommend?</h2> <p>The Senate inquiry was set up to investigate the Albanese government’s refusal to approve <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-will-putting-the-interests-of-qantas-ahead-of-qatar-airways-cost-1-billion-per-year-and-a-new-wave-of-protectionism-of-legacy-carriers-212495">extra flights into Australia sought by Qatar Airways</a>, but broadened its scope to examine the way Qantas has been <a href="https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Commonwealth_Bilateral_Air_Service_Agreements/cbasa/Report/Recommendations">treating its customers</a>.</p> <p>Among its recommendations are that:</p> <ul> <li> <p>the government immediately review its decision not to increase capacity under Australia’s bilateral air services agreement with Qatar</p> </li> <li> <p>when making decisions relating to bilateral air service agreements, the government have regard to cost benefit analysis, consult widely with key stakeholders, and publish a statement of reasons for decisions taken</p> </li> <li> <p>the government review reform options to strengthen competition in the domestic aviation industry, including potential divestiture powers</p> </li> <li> <p>the government direct the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to conduct an inquiry into potential anti-competitive behaviour in the domestic aviation market</p> </li> <li> <p>the government develop and implement consumer protection reforms as soon as reasonably practicable to address significant delays, cancellations, lost baggage and devaluation of loyalty programs.</p> </li> </ul> <p>The committee also wanted to be reappointed so it would be able to reexamine witnesses who were unable to appear, including Alan Joyce and Transport Minister Catherine King.</p> <h2>Consumer cashback and action on Sydney Airport</h2> <p>Specific suggestions in the report would shift power away from Qantas.</p> <p>One is automatic cash compensation for delayed or cancelled flights, of the kind Europeans have enjoyed for <a href="https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:52016XC0615%2801%29">almost 20 years</a>.</p> <p>Another is for the government to respond to an independent review’s recommendations on improving Sydney Airport’s “slot management system” (how air traffic is managed), which <a href="https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/infrastructure-transport-vehicles/airports/review-sydney-airport-demand-management-scheme">reported back almost three years ago</a>.</p> <p>Yet another concerned “<a href="https://theconversation.com/explainer-cabotage-and-why-foreign-airlines-dont-fly-domestic-42350">cabotage</a>”: the ability for foreign airlines to pick up domestic passengers on a domestic leg of an international flight. The committee recommended the government consider limited cabotage.</p> <p>The government hasn’t yet indicated which of the recommendations it plans to act on.</p> <h2>Open skies, or tightly-controlled skies?</h2> <p>The committee could have, and perhaps should have, put forward bolder recommendations.</p> <p>One would have been unrestricted <a href="https://theconversation.com/under-open-skies-the-market-not-the-minister-would-decide-how-often-airlines-could-fly-into-australia-213214">open skies</a> agreements, of the kind Australia already has with China, India, Japan, New Zealand and Singapore. This would see the government remove itself from decisions about landing slots and leave that to the airports.</p> <p>An alternative approach – almost the opposite – would be retaining the power to decide who lands, but using it to achieve outcomes the government wants, such as commitments from countries including Qatar on things such as workers’ rights.</p> <p>The European Union has shown what could be done. It extracted key <a href="https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_21_5344">concessions</a> from Qatar over workers’ rights and environmental protection before signing off on an Open Skies agreement in 2021.</p> <p>Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, a former transport minister who understands the detail of aviation policy, might be particularly keen on this idea, given Labor’s commitment to workers’ rights.</p> <h2>Sweeping changes ahead</h2> <p>Next year, the government will release a white paper on aviation policy through to 2050, after obtaining <a href="https://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/c-king/media-release/aviation-green-paper-open-feedback">feedback</a> on a green paper it released last month.</p> <p>Those next 30 years will be far from business-as-usual for airlines and airports, whatever decisions the government takes now, and however Qantas responds.</p> <p>Ultra-long-haul aircraft are likely to link Paris with Perth, and even London with Sydney within a decade. They are likely to force new alliances between airlines that today seem unlikely bedfellows.</p> <p>And the chorus against the excesses of long-haul travel is likely to become louder.</p> <p>Prince William’s <a href="https://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/fifa-womens-world-cup-2023/132776452/large-carbon-footprint-behind-prince-william-not-attending-world-cup-final">refusal to travel to Sydney</a> for the Women’s World Cup Final because of the size of the carbon footprint might be a sign of things to come.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/214718/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/gui-lohmann-1476773"><em>Gui Lohmann</em></a><em>, Professor in Air Transport and Tourism Management, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/griffith-university-828">Griffith University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/justin-wastnage-489752">Justin Wastnage</a>, Adjunct Industry Fellow, Griffith Institute for Tourism, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/griffith-university-828">Griffith University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image </em><em>credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/qantas-wont-like-it-but-australian-travellers-could-be-about-to-get-a-better-deal-on-flights-214718">original article</a>.</em></p>

Domestic Travel

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Qantas chief executive issues second apology

<p>Qantas chief executive Vanessa Hudson has issued a second apology, as the airline continues to try and fix its reputation and win back customers' trust amid recent controversy over its <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/finance/legal/jubilant-scenes-as-high-court-hands-down-judgment-against-qantas" target="_blank" rel="noopener">unlawful mass firing</a>.</p> <p>In a video message released on Friday, Hudson, who replaced chief executive Alan Joyce earlier this month, said she understood customer’s frustration and apologised for the airline’s recent track record. </p> <p>“I know that we have let you down in many ways and for that, I am sorry,” she said.</p> <p>“We haven't delivered the way we should have. And we’ve often been hard to deal with.”</p> <p>This apology comes just weeks after the new chief executive apologised to their staff and said that the new management will be more focused on their customers. </p> <p>Hudson has also promised to rectify the airline's problems. </p> <p>“We understand we need to earn back your trust not with what we say, but with what we do and how we behave,” she said. </p> <p>She added that customers can expect more frequent flyer seats, improved resources for call centres, and a review of customer policies, assuring customers that their frontline teams will be granted more flexibility “to better help you when things don't go to plan”.</p> <p>“This has been a humbling period,” she said.</p> <p><em>Images: Qantas/ news.com.au</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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"It was a brutal moment": Qantas employee recalls mass firing

<p>A former Qantas worker has recalled the "brutal" moment he and almost 1,700 employees were fired from the airline. </p> <p>Ramp supervisor Don Dixon spoke to <em>A Current Affair</em> about his time with the Qantas, just hours after the High Court ruled the Aussie airline <a href="https://oversixty.com.au/finance/legal/jubilant-scenes-as-high-court-hands-down-judgment-against-qantas" target="_blank" rel="noopener">illegally sacked</a> hundreds of employees during the Covid-19 pandemic.</p> <p>“I absolutely loved Qantas. It was a fantastic company to work for until Joyce took over,” the former employee of over 20 years told Ally Langdon. </p> <p>“Some of the people I worked with [had been there for] 40 years, and it was an iconic Australian company, and it was a fabulous place to go to work." </p> <p>“The last 15 years were just awful.”</p> <p>Mr Dixon said that when Alan Joyce took over as CEO, “everything changed” revealing that loyalty diminished, and he was made to feel like a “dinosaur”.</p> <p>According to Mr Dixon, he and his team found out they had three months until they would be terminated via an announcement over a loudspeaker in the lunch room. </p> <p>Host Allison Langdon, floored by the revelation, asked, “Is there any more cowardly way to tell someone who has served loyalty for 20 years they no longer have a job?”</p> <p>“They could have mailed something, but I don’t think they would have paid for the stamp,” Mr Dixon responded.</p> <p>“Over the loudspeaker, in the lunch room, we were all together. It was just a brutal moment.”</p> <p>Mr Dixon claimed that finding other work after he was fired was challenging, given that the 20 years at Qantas left him with a specific skill set. </p> <p>“Nobody wanted to employ you – when you worked at Qantas, it was a career, it was a lifetime, no one was going to leave because it was that good.”</p> <p>“It’s not as if every company in Australia has a role for washed-up baggage handlers and cleaners.”</p> <p>He said Wednesday marked the first day since what has been dubbed one of the largest sackings in Australian corporate history that he, as a union delegate, had heard “happy voices” on the other end of the phone line. </p> <p>“We were a small part of history today – we won – we did it.”</p> <p>In the landmark decision that saw former employees pumping their fists in celebration inside the courtroom, Qantas has issued a formal apology to its workforce after the High Court declared its actions unlawful when it terminated the employment of over 1,700 ground crew members during the COVID-19 pandemic.</p> <p>The court upheld two prior rulings from the Federal Court that deemed the airline's outsourcing of baggage handlers, cleaners and ground staff to be in violation of the law.</p> <p><em>Image credits: A Current Affair</em></p>

Legal

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Jubilant scenes as High Court hands down judgment against Qantas

<p>In a landmark decision that saw former employees pumping their fists in celebration inside the courtroom, Qantas has issued a formal apology to its workforce after the High Court declared its actions unlawful when it terminated the employment of over 1,700 ground crew members during the COVID-19 pandemic.</p> <p>The court upheld two prior rulings from the Federal Court that deemed the airline's outsourcing of baggage handlers, cleaners and ground staff to be in violation of the law.</p> <p>The judgment delivered by Justices Susan Kiefel, Stephen Gageler, Jacqueline Gleeson, and Jayne Jagot underscores that taking "adverse action against another person for a substantial and operative reason of preventing the exercise of a workplace right by the other person contravenes (part of section 340 of the Fair Work Act) ... regardless of whether that other person has the relevant workplace right at the time the adverse action is taken."</p> <p>In essence, Qantas could not evade the law by taking such actions before the employees possessed the specific workplace rights the airline sought to obstruct.</p> <p>Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Sally McManus, who was there for the judgment's announcement, posted a celebratory photo on social media, declaring, "The workers win against Qantas in the High Court. We will always have the backs of workers, well done ⁦@TWUAus"</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">The workers win against Qantas in the High Court. We will always have the backs of workers, well done ⁦<a href="https://twitter.com/TWUAus?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TWUAus</a>⁩ <a href="https://t.co/wvZr7ouULX">pic.twitter.com/wvZr7ouULX</a></p> <p>— Sally McManus (@sallymcmanus) <a href="https://twitter.com/sallymcmanus/status/1701749294947291564?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">September 13, 2023</a></p></blockquote> <p> </p> <p>This legal battle began when the Transport Workers' Union brought a case against Qantas in the Federal Court, asserting that the airline had violated the Fair Work Act by outsourcing its ground operations to circumvent enterprise bargaining rights. Qantas, which had laid off workers in 2020, suffered significant financial losses due to the pandemic's severe impact on the aviation sector.</p> <p>In its response to the High Court's decision, Qantas clarified that it made the decision to outsource its remaining ground handling function in August 2020, at a time when borders were closed, lockdowns were widespread, and COVID-19 vaccines were not yet available.</p> <p>The airline stated, "The likelihood of a years-long crisis led Qantas to restructure its business to improve its ability to survive and ultimately recover."</p> <p>Qantas then expressed deep regret for the adverse personal impact this decision had on the affected employees and offered an apology:</p> <p>"As we have said from the beginning, we deeply regret the personal impact the outsourcing decision had on all those affected and we sincerely apologise for that.</p> <p>"A prior decision by the Federal Court has ruled out reinstatement of workers but it will now consider penalties for the breach and compensation for relevant employees, which will factor in redundancy payments already made by Qantas."</p> <p>The airline outsourced the positions of baggage handlers and cleaners at ten airports in response to a drastic decline in business, citing sound commercial reasons as the motivation, as its operations had plummeted by over 90 percent.</p> <p>However, the Transport Workers' Union argued that Qantas had also sought to preempt industrial action once business returned to normal, contending that the dismissals were in violation of the Fair Work Act, which prohibited actions impeding workers' rights.</p> <p>After losing twice in the Federal Court, Qantas escalated the case to the High Court, which was tasked with determining whether the workers possessed the rights claimed by the union at the time of the outsourcing decision. The unanimous decision of the High Court now paves the way for the workers to pursue compensation.</p> <p>Images: Twitter (X)</p>

Legal

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Booking customers on flights that were cancelled – how could Qantas do that?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/volodymyr-bilotkach-145437">Volodymyr Bilotkach</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/purdue-university-1827">Purdue University</a></em></p> <p>Fining Qantas <a href="https://www.atn.aero/#/article.html?id=87951">A$600 million</a> if it is found to have knowingly sold so-called “ghost flights” would be fair, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.</p> <p>The commission this week <a href="https://www.accc.gov.au/media-release/accc-takes-court-action-alleging-qantas-advertised-flights-it-had-already-cancelled">launched action</a> in the Federal Court alleging Qantas engaged in false, misleading or deceptive conduct by selling tickets on flights that had already been cancelled, and not informing passengers of cancellations in a timely manner.</p> <p>The regulator’s charges against the airline, which last month reported a record <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/business/2023/aug/24/qantas-delivers-record-247bn-profit">$2.47 billion profit</a>, have precipitated the early exit of longtime chief executive Alan Joyce, who quit this week two months ahead of schedule. This court challenge will certainly add to the workload of his successor, Vanessa Hudson.</p> <p>Qantas <a href="https://www.atn.aero/#/article.html?id=87951">has acknowledged</a> that service standards might have slipped as the airline was struggling to recover after the pandemic.</p> <p>The nature of the oversights that led to the airline’s errors will determine the airline’s liability – both to the consumer regulator and to individual claims for compensation.</p> <p>Importantly, the case also points to the need for greater regulatory protection of the airline’s passengers, in line with other jurisdictions.</p> <h2>How did Qantas get in this mess?</h2> <p>The short answer, most likely, is that the carrier did not handle flight cancellations promptly due to the sheer volume of work and labour shortages as it sought to resume operations following the end of pandemic restrictions.</p> <p>The consumer regulator’s allegations relate specifically to May and June 2022. Australia lifted many of its COVID-related travel restrictions in <a href="https://www.voanews.com/a/australia-lifts-covid-restrictions-and-welcomes-travelers-/6451955.html">March</a>, and travellers entering the country <a href="https://www.travelpulse.com/news/destinations/australia-lifts-remaining-covid-19-travel-restrictions">after July 6</a> were not required to show proof of vaccination. The airline was trying to bring its planes back into service and hire or retrain its employees, and generally was struggling to get back to more or less normal operations.</p> <p>In its statement, the competition watchdog noted the carrier cancelled nearly one in four flights scheduled during that period; and for two out of three cancelled flights it either continued selling tickets or failed to inform the passengers –sometimes for extended periods of time – or both.</p> <p>Flight cancellations are a normal part of an airline’s operations. However, the “usual” cancellation rate is <a href="https://www.transportation.gov/briefing-room/air-travel-consumer-report-march-2023-and-1st-quarter-2023-numbers#:%7E:text=DOT%20remains%20committed%20to%20ensuring,first%20three%20months%20of%202022.">less than 2%</a>, less than a tenth of what Qantas experienced in May and June 2022. What is unusual is that Qantas did not immediately remove cancelled flights from its booking system. This is something I have never heard of.</p> <p>One also suspects the airline has had enough “practice” with schedule adjustment during the pandemic to know better. There are clearly gaps in the carrier’s management. It has lessons to learn from this debacle.</p> <h2>What is Qantas’ liability?</h2> <p>The question of the extent of the airline’s liability is not straightforward. Obviously, a business willingly selling a product or service it has no intention to deliver is at fault, and has to face consequences.</p> <p>At the same time, a business selling a product that has defects it is unaware of, despite doing its best to prevent such defects from occurring, will face certain costs (such as those associated with a product recall) but may be spared sanctions.</p> <p>The onus will be on Qantas to demonstrate it made an honest mistake rather than a lapse of judgement. But considering the scale of the problem, the airline faces a very difficult task here.</p> <h2>Individual claims pending</h2> <p>As well as a potential fine, Qantas should brace for a flood of claims from individual passengers who bought a ticket for an already cancelled flight or were not informed in a timely manner.</p> <p>Timing will be of the essence here. If a passenger incurred expenses assuming the flight was operating when it had already been cancelled, such as making a non-refundable hotel reservation, there is a case to request compensation for such expenses.</p> <p>Otherwise, the standard policy will apply: the airline is not usually responsible for any non-refundable and uninsured expenses a passenger incurs prior to the flight cancellation.</p> <h2>Closing the regulatory gap</h2> <p>The regulator should, however, also take a closer look at the existing air passenger rights in Australia.</p> <p>Currently, <a href="https://www.accc.gov.au/consumers/specific-products-and-activities/travel-delays-and-cancellations">the consumer is entitled to replacement or refund</a> if an airline does not provide services “in a reasonable time” - that is, in the event of a lengthy delay or a flight cancellation. However, the definition of “reasonable time” and the specifics of the compensation policies are left to the airlines.</p> <p>In other parts of the world, actions have been or are being taken to strengthen customer protection. For instance, in <a href="https://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/travel/passenger-rights/air/index_en.htm">the European Union</a>, lengthy delays that are the airlines’ fault lead to the carriers paying out cash compensation as well as the cost of accommodation and meals.</p> <p>Similar regulations <a href="https://www.transportation.gov/briefing-room/dot-propose-requirements-airlines-cover-expenses-and-compensate-stranded-passengers">were proposed in the United States</a> earlier this year.</p> <p>Perhaps, if stronger consumer protection rules had been in place in Australia in 2022, Qantas would have managed the aftermath of flight cancellations more diligently.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/212793/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/volodymyr-bilotkach-145437">Volodymyr Bilotkach</a>, Associate Professor, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/purdue-university-1827">Purdue University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/booking-customers-on-flights-that-were-cancelled-how-could-qantas-do-that-212793">original article</a>.</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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"His hero narrative has massively failed": Qantas staff's brutal response to Alan Joyce's early exit

<p>A former Qantas pilot and several current staff members have recounted the moment they found out about now former-CEO Alan Joyce's early exit from the company. </p> <p>Joyce was planning to retire from his CEO role in November, but shocked the nation on <a href="https://oversixty.com.au/finance/legal/alan-joyce-announces-shock-early-departure" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Tuesday</a> when he decided he would be stepping back, effective immediately. </p> <p>His resignation comes after 22 years in the role, as Qantas continues to face mounting pressures over unprecedented customer dissatisfaction, and a looming glass action lawsuit over cancelled flights. </p> <p>Upon hearing the news, past and present Qantas employees erupted in celebration. </p> <p>Retired Qantas pilot captain Richard de Crespigny was on board a flight on Tuesday when the news broke mid-air that Joyce was gone, sparking extraordinary celebrations.</p> <p>"I was on a flight from Sydney to Melbourne this morning and when I landed the cabin crew were giving each other high-fives," de Crespigny told <a href="https://9now.nine.com.au/a-current-affair/former-qantas-pilot-richard-de-crespigny-speaks-out-following-ceo-alan-joyce-resignation/18040563-db75-41c4-af7c-b5ed8af84bf6" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>A Current Affair</em></a>.</p> <p>Another ground staff member said, "We're celebrating wildly, not just because he's leaving but because his hero narrative has massively failed."</p> <p>Mr de Crespigny, who worked for Qantas for 34 years warned the airline won't regain trust overnight just because Joyce has taken off. </p> <p>"It's built in teaspoons and destroyed in shovel loads," he said.</p> <p>"It takes incredible skill, determination and empathy to build it up; it's got to be protected."</p> <p>Mr de Crespigny went on to say the Qantas business restructure after the travel industry was decimated by the Covid pandemic was not good enough, and the upper management made some terrible decisions. </p> <p>During the pandemic, Mr Joyce locked out employees during an industrial dispute before hundreds of staff lost their jobs during the Covid-19 pandemic.</p> <p>"Some of them didn't come out of it well at all. They lost their jobs, they lost their houses, they lost their marriages," de Crespigny said.</p> <p>"The workers that held Qantas up … they really suffered greatly."</p> <p>"And it hasn't been a good vision to see the executive team, the CEO, continue to get bonuses at the expense of maybe baggage handlers and other people that have lost their jobs. This is not a good example of leadership."</p> <p><em>Image credits: A Current Affair</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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"You've been bumped": Vietnam vet slams Qantas for booting him from business class

<p dir="ltr">Qantas has come under fire for booting a Vietnam war veteran from his paid seat in business class so that a young Qantas "tech" – later revealed to be a pilot – could travel in the luxury seat in his place.</p> <p dir="ltr">Stephen Jones, 78, and his wife were travelling home to Adelaide after a holiday in Christchurch. Their flight was passing through Melbourne on its way to their home in Adelaide, and the pair were enjoying coffee in the Melbourne airport lounge – just 30 minutes before they were set to continue their journey – when they were given the bad news by Qantas staff.</p> <p dir="ltr">"I went up to the desk and the Qantas employee there said, 'I've got some bad news for you, you've been bumped'," Mr Jones told Melbourne’s <em><a href="https://www.3aw.com.au/vietnam-war-veteran-booted-from-business-class-for-younger-qantas-employee/">3AW</a></em> radio program with Ross & Russ. </p> <p dir="ltr">"It didn't register at first," continued Mr Jones. "I wasn't quite sure what 'bumped' meant... I said, 'What?', and she said, 'Yes, I'll have to re-issue your ticket for economy class. We have a tech who's flying to Adelaide and his contract states that he must fly Business Class."</p> <p dir="ltr">Mr Jones then explained that while he retreated to his economy seat, the Qantas employee was seated next to his wife up in business class, and that "he wouldn't even look at her".</p> <p dir="ltr">Mr Jones went on to explain that, after filing a letter of complaint, he was offered 5000 Frequent Flyer points in return for the downgrade and an apology.</p> <p dir="ltr">Mr Jones, who served in Vietnam in a combat unit in the 1960s, claimed he turned down the offer of 5000 points, saying, “I don’t think anything is going to change until there’s ramifications for Qantas, or costs for Qantas when they upset their customers.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Justin Lawrence, Partner at Henderson Ball Lawyers, later told the 3AW radio show hosts that there’s little customers can do about such a move by the airline and said it was “standard operating procedure”.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Unfortunately, their terms of carriage allow them to do this sort of thing – this happens so often they’ve actually got a term for it, buckle up, they call this 'involuntary downgrading,'” he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“They’ll overprescribe business class or first class, they will need to bump someone out, and they’ll do it almost immediately prior to the flight – not just Qantas, they all do it."</p> <p dir="ltr">“Any time you go to a travel agent or online to Qantas to buy a seat, and we think we’re buying a seat in a particular class, there are no guarantees that when that plane takes off, you’ll be sitting in that class.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Mr Jones said he understood that Qantas pilots were entitled to rest comfortably on their way to another flight, but the ordeal was “unsettling and made me a little irritable”.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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Alan Joyce grilled over cancelled flights and Covid credits

<p>Outgoing Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has faced a line of tough questioning after appearing in front of a Senate committee on Monday, who questioned his enormous salary in the face of the cost of living crisis.</p> <p>At the explosive public hearing of the select committee on the cost of living, which Joyce had to be summonsed to after repeatedly refusing to attend, the outgoing Qantas chief executive defended the record $2.47bn full-year profit he announced just days earlier.</p> <p>Senators were confused by the extraordinary profit, given Qantas has seen 12 months of soaring customer dissatisfaction and a looming class action lawsuit over the travel credits policy during the height of the pandemic, as well as facing accusations of anti-competitive behaviour, and historically high cancellation rates out of Sydney airport.</p> <p>Joyce defended the profits, saying Qantas had been caught up in a wave of “criticism of corporate profits” due to cost-of-living pressures.</p> <p>As well as the company's incredible profits, Joyce himself, who is walking away from the CEO role at the end of the year, is set to walk away with as much as $24 million in personal pay. </p> <p>Labor senator Tony Sheldon quizzed Joyce on if he feels "embarrassed" over his huge personal salary, given the airline’s soaring complaints and his decisions to restructure the airline to pay employees less.</p> <p>Joyce refused to answer the question, saying the senator was "making a whole series of points that are just incorrect.”</p> <p>Joyce was then grilled on the seemingly "strategic" cancellation of domestic flights, in which some senators, as well as airline competitors, had accused Qantas of booking in flights out of Sydney airport and then cancelling them last minute, to block other airlines from increasing their services. </p> <p>He again denied these claims, stating that Qantas’s cancellation rate on a national level (not out of Sydney specifically) were the lowest of the major carriers, and blamed the cancellations on “supply chain issues” and “air traffic control delays”.</p> <p>Finally, Joyce was confronted over his policy of not refunding travel credits that were issued when travellers' trips were cancelled during the height of the pandemic. </p> <p>In June, Qantas announced more than $500 million in Covid credits remained unclaimed and would expire by the end of the year.</p> <p>While refunds have been offered for some credits, not everyone was able to claim these, and a class action lawsuit is now claiming compensation for lost interest on the credits.</p> <p>At the Senate committee meeting, Jetstar chief executive, Steph Tully, said the number of unclaimed credits now lies at $370 million, however this figure did not reflect Jetstar or overseas customers’ credits.</p> <p>“Around $100m” in Jetstar credits remain unclaimed, on top of Qantas’s $370m, Tully said.</p> <p>Senator Sheldon then slammed Tully for "not being transparent” before asking “what’s stopping you from refunding the money”.</p> <p>Tully replied “lots of reasons”, citing codeshare flights and “half-taken trips”.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

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