Qantas replaces flight with bus, refuses refunds
A SUDDEN cancellation to a Qantas Bundaberg to Brisbane flight has left passengers out of pocket and scrambling to organise other travel arrangements, including a four-hour bus ride.
A local Qantas frequent flyer said he was "disgusted" by his dealings with the airline's customer service department while trying to negotiate transport options for the flight booked in February.
He said Qantas only told him late Tuesday that yesterday's 6.45am flight to Brisbane was cancelled - supposedly due to Bundaberg Airport being flooded.
"That was obviously not correct as the Bundaberg Airport was only flooded for a short time two days prior," he said.
"Other passengers were told the cancellation was due to the unavailability of a pilot, as well as operational issues."
Upon questioning a Qantas customer service representative, the passenger said he was told there would be no other travel options available.
Inexplicably, the staff member said no refunds would be given either.
"I requested to be booked on to the 9.30am flight but was advised that was full," the passenger said.
"In the end, a coach was organised to bus us to Brisbane - a four-and-a-half hour trip.
"When I requested that they might want to refund the cost of the flight, they advised the cost would be funding the bus to Brisbane."
The frequent flyer said he was one of 12 on the coach trip, with other passengers of the fully booked flight making their own travel arrangements.
He said the cancellation and lack of appropriate organisation had caused "mayhem" to his business plans.
"It has just been chaos and mayhem because I had a connecting flight to Sydney plus other travel arrangements made for a business trip," he said.
"I've had people in Sydney waiting for me."
The passenger said the situation could have been handled better.
"Most people appreciate that there can be operational issues, but being told various things is pretty poor service," he said.
"What worries me is people are trying to do business in and out of Bundaberg and this seems to be happening more and more."
The passenger said the issue was down to the customer service department, not the local QantasLink employees, who "went out of their way to help and were exceptional".
The NewsMail requested a response from Qantas media, detailing the exact situation and asking why customers were not given a refund.
A spokesman said Qantas was "sorry that Tuesday evening's flight from Brisbane to Bundaberg and Wednesday's Bundaberg to Brisbane flights were cancelled".
"Due to disruptions to our network on Tuesday in Queensland, aircraft and crew were out of position to operate those Bundaberg services," the spokesman said.
"We know that any flight cancellations are frustrating and our team always work to minimise any delays."