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Source: Consumer NZ

Last week, Consumer NZ complained to the Commerce Commission about Jetstar breaking the rules and misleading passengers. Since going public with this complaint, the watchdog has heard the stories of many disgruntled New Zealanders who have suffered because of the airline’s shoddy customer service.

Wellingtonian Nigel had trouble getting reimbursement from Jetstar. He was impacted by a flight delay, meaning he wouldn’t make the meeting he was travelling for.

“I had no choice but to book an alternative flight [with Air NZ] to get where I needed to be on time,” he said. “I tried to recover the cost of this alternative flight, but Jetstar would only refund $64, for the delayed flight.”

Thankfully, Nigel knew his rights and made a successful Disputes Tribunal claim.

“Jetstar make it as hard as possible for the public to deal with them, hoping they will ignore their rights and give up,” Nigel said. “Unfortunately, they only respond to legal action. Passengers shouldn’t have to resort to legal action to try and claim what they’re entitled to.”

Consumer is campaigning for airlines to tell passengers their rights when a flight is delayed or cancelled.

“We’re sending a clear signal to the airlines that they must do better,” said Gemma Rasmussen, Consumer’s head of communications and campaigns. “People shouldn’t have to lodge claims with the Disputes Tribunal or have a thorough understanding of the Civil Aviation Act to get what they’re owed. No New Zealander should be out of pocket because an airline is shirking its legal responsibility. The more petition signatures we get, the stronger our voice is.”

In late September, Roxanne and her partner were due to enjoy a break in Rarotonga. When they arrived at Wellington Airport for their flight to Auckland, they were shocked to discover the Jetstar flight was cancelled because of ‘crewing requirements’. This meant Roxanne and her partner would miss the onward flight to Rarotonga.

“The Jetstar attendant told us they couldn’t get us on an alternative flight to Auckland for the next few days,” Roxanne said. “If we missed the international flight, we couldn’t be rebooked for weeks, because of the October school holidays. There was nothing they could do to help and so we were told to try and book something with Air NZ instead.”

Roxanne’s travel agent was able to book them onto an Air NZ flight to Auckland so they could catch their onward flight to Rarotonga. This replacement flight (via Tauranga) for the two of them cost $1500, meaning Roxanne had to dip into her savings.

Under the Civil Aviation Act, because the cancellation was for reasons within Jetstar’s control, Jetstar should have reimbursed Roxanne the $1500 she forked out for the alternative Air NZ flight. Jetstar is refusing to pay her what she’s owed.

“Sadly, this behaviour is all too common with Jetstar,” said Rasmussen. “Failure to adequately staff a flight is absolutely within an airline’s control. This means the airline is liable for costs an affected passenger incurs because of that cancellation.”

Roxanne said: “Jetstar is not taking any responsibility and I am now $1500 out of pocket. Instead, Jetstar has directed me to a vague website which states its conditions of carriage and quotes Australian consumer law. I think Jetstar is hoping I won’t look for any further information.”

Consumer is campaigning hard for long-term change in the system. Please sign the flight rights petition today.
About Consumer

Consumer NZ is an independent, non-profit organisation dedicated to championing and empowering consumers in Aotearoa. Consumer NZ has a reputation for being fair, impartial and providing comprehensive consumer information and advice.