Thought I would post our experience of trying to get to Lord Howe Island last week for our family holiday in the hope it may help other passengers thinking of heading there.
We were scheduled to fly out last Saturday, checked in at Melb airport - bags checked all way through to LHI. On arrival in Sydney an hour later we were advised that flight had been cancelled due to weather. Qantas offered one night accommodation in Sydney and advised we would have to pay our own way for any additional nights in Sydney. They also advised they no longer pay for taxi's back home for Sydney passengers or taxi's to the hotels. We were advised due to the weather flights may not go out for up to 4 days. We were told to contact Qantas later that day for details of our rescheduled flight.
We tried on 3 separate occasions to get through to the Qantas call centre on hold each time for 40 mins. The following day we again tried to get through to Qantas, finally getting through on the 3rd attempt. The call centre staff seemed to have no idea that our flight had been cancelled and asked did we want to be flown back to Melbourne. After explaining the situation to a senior call centre staff they advised we had not yet been rescheduled, they really seemed to have no idea what was going on. We made plans then to move to another hotel that was cheaper (as there were 5 of us).
By Monday morning we still had not been contacted by Qantas - there was no information on their website about what was happening. We tried Qantas again, finally getting through mid morning. They then said they could fly us out to LHI mid April. Our flight home was on 8th April. Obviously not an option. So we asked them about getting us back to Melbourne if there was no chance of us getting to LHI. They said they couldn't change our flights as we had booked through a travel agent. This was in complete contrast to what we had been told at the airport. Fortunately we had booked through a travel agent (Oxley Travel - who were fantastic). We rang and advised them how useless Qantas were been and they said they would sort it for us. Late that night we received confirmation that we could fly back to Melbourne the next day.
On arrival back to Melbourne Qantas advised they would not be refunding any of our tickets. They have advised they can hold the credit on the Sydney - LHI sector for 6 months only. If we don't travel in that 6 mths we lose the lot. They won't refund our syd - Melb flights as we flew on them, even though it was part of the overall ticket to get to LHI.
I completely understand that weather factors are out of their control and that safety is paramount. However their handling of this situation was atrocious, their distinct lack of care or any interest a real disappointment for our national carrier.
We have travel insurance and we are in the process of discussing Qantas's very restrictive rules they have now placed on our unused portion of tickets. I think Qantas could do with some competition in this airspace. We would love to try and get to LHI in the future but Qantas's handling of this has left us wondering if it is worth it.
So definitely get travel insurance and I would highly recommend booking through a travel agent as they can often get onto the airlines on your behalf when it is almost impossible to get any sense out of them. Qantas will do quite well out of this week of no flights but holding onto everyone's money with such restrictive terms to reuse them.