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Flight Cancellations and communication from Qantas

Victoria
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Flight Cancellations and communication from Qantas

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.

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18 replies to this topic
South Pacific
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for Hobart, Tasmania
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1. Re: Flight Cancellations and communication from Qantas

Post this (or at least a much briefer version) on the Qantas facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Qantas/

Sydney, Australia
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2. Re: Flight Cancellations and communication from Qantas

LHI is a bit of a unique destination and Q does amazingly well to try and do recovery. Unfortunately they can only fly in Dash 8 aircraft and at this time of year these flights are already heavily booked.

They do try and run additional services, the first flying day after closures its land take off land take off continually at the tiny airport.

Flight cancellations to LHI are frequent (in 4 trips I have had 3 flight cancellations of my own not to mention cancellation days while I was on island that didn't affect me.

When you are on the island all the "sorting out" is done by one person and reschedulaing is then communicated to accommodation.

I have booked through Oxley before and they explained that in the event of a flight cancellation they would do all the leg work to sort out flights if things were cancelled. They are also cheaper as they "block book" seats hence if you have purchased your ticket from them the flight conditions are imposed by Oxley. As part of their contract with Qantas.

There are lists of disclaimers on LHI, Oxleys and Qs website about flight cancellation and having insurance. The restrictions were put in place because the number of cancellations is so high and many people were relying on Q to bail them out rather than having insurance. There was an article sometime back that flights to LHI actually operate at a loss for Q but it is maintained as a service Becuase the locals actually need it.

Please also rememebr that this was in the period of cyclone effect so call centres would have been inundated (and that was why your flights were canned.... the fall out from the cyclone, yep it impacts on the island)

I hope you do get to LHI and be ready to deal with a flight cancellation, Becuase even if they do "open the skies" all airlines will be impacted

Victoria
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3. Re: Flight Cancellations and communication from Qantas

Thank you - will do

Victoria
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4. Re: Flight Cancellations and communication from Qantas

Thanks GuruW - your points are very valid and we would have been up the creek without a paddle so to speak if we didn't have Oxley Travel to liaise with Qantas for us. Even they found them frustrating. I guess my points are make sure you have travel insurance - which we do and hopefully will refund what Qantas will not. And don't book direct with Qantas - use a travel agent. (We found Oxley fantastic)

Sydney, Australia
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5. Re: Flight Cancellations and communication from Qantas

I would like to say we had our flights cancelled on two occasions. We were to fly first on the Friday and the flight was cancelled due to weather. We rang Qantas as soon as we received the text message at 4.45am. Qantas were GREAT. We were a party of 6 so needed, if possible to all be rescheduled to another flight together. They managed to get us on the Sunday 7am flight. We were delayed until 9am due to weather at Lord Howe. We did travel to Lord Howe but the visibility had become too dangerous to land so we were turned around back to Sydney. Back at Sydney, we were told the same thing to ring Qantas that night, which we did. Once again the Qantas staff were GREAT. They changed all our bookings to go in June without any hassle at all. We were extra lucky, as we all saw it, as we had a great flight to Lord Howe and back, and there was no problem with rescheduling. It was a fun day out. Admittedly we did not have to go to Melbourne as we are in Sydney. From mine and the other people that were in our party we were very pleased with Qantas. Hopefully you will get to Lord Howe.

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Melbourne
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Victoria, Australia
Melbourne, Australia
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6. Re: Flight Cancellations and communication from Qantas

Thanks for posting. We are due to fly to LHI on the 23 May. I have not yet purchased travel insurance, I am still trying to work out which company is the best for covering travel delays.

We are also coming from Melbourne but on Jetstar. Do you mind telling me which company you used?

Many thanks

Nick

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Bendigo
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7. Re: Flight Cancellations and communication from Qantas

I have just returned from LHI after a similar experience although I should consider my husband and myself lucky as we only missed 5 nights of our intended 11 nights stay. Literally boarding our flight (Virgin) in Melbourne I received a brief text message from Qantas telling us that there had been alterations to our flight. On arriving at Sydney airport I find out that it is cancelled and had to ring Qantas to find out when they could rebook us. The rebooking was for 5 days time. I asked if there was a possibility of us being put on a "wait list" in case there was cancellations told no you can ring us everyday, after spending 1 hour waiting for their call back system sat in Sydney airport wandering what to do next my was thinking I should have booked a connecting flight all the way through from Melbourne to LHI and I am sure that they would have looked after us better. But your experience shows that it really doesn't make any difference and to be honest the price of a qantas flight from connecting from Melbourne was ridiculous if the price of the Sydney to LHI wasn't bad enough. The help line didn't offer us a nights accommodation and would not even confirm in writing that my flight was cancelled do to weather how ever I was offered a full flight refund! They said I had to ring a different number to obtain that. OMG not another 1hrs waiting for call to be answered. I phoned our accommodation in LHI (Somerset Apartments) they suggested as were still in the airport go and see someone and strongly demand some action as she knew they had put extra flights on. I was referred to the QantasLink help desk in the airport. They were very helpful checked all the flights for me, but to no avail. They did give me a nights free accommodation and a written confirmation of the flight cancellation due to weather which I needed for insurance claim. If our second flight had been cancelled we would have had to have gone home but luckily it went ahead. So we spent 5 nights in Sydney.

Our stay at LHI was great if not short... we couldn't fit in everything we would have liked to have done but thankful that we got there at all.

But it doesn't end there..... now we have arrived home with no luggage as we were two of the lucky ones that had our bags offloaded because the return flight was too heavy for the wind conditions on takeoff. No idea how long it will take for our luggage to arrive home! They said at the airport that international and interstate passengers luggage take priority that didn't help us because our flights to Melbourne was not connecting. They told everyone who's bags were not going at the gate to give people to opportunity to take things out that they might need. That didn't help us either because our bags were not included in this first cull... it wasn't until we were sat on the plane and with a lot of banging coming from the cargo hold that we saw our bags being wheeled across the tarmac due to a second cull!

Now the interesting process will begin with making an insurance claim to try to recover as much as I can financially from this experience.

My advice to people is firstly consider connecting flights it may help if delays occur and with luggage offloading.

Book through an accredited private travel agent.. I know some who run their own businesses from home and they are easier to reach and can be more attentive and helpful then those working for big companies.

Plan your stay at LHI for a reasonable long time ie at least 10 days so if delays occur you might still be able to go.

Travel insurance is essential...

Have a back up plan... be prepared.. this happens regularly.

And of course none of these hints will necessarily help as it seems like the rules change depending on who you speak with on the end of the phone line at Qantas. You are after all just a number to them, they don't care about your plans, dreams and excitement turning to disappointment.

It's a shame because LHI has so much to offer as a holiday destination. It's not cheap, but it is beautiful..

Was it all worth the stress? Mmmmmmmmm maybe not!!!!!!!!

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Melbourne
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Victoria, Australia
Sydney Airport
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Mascot, Australia
Sydney
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Sydney, Australia
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8. Re: Flight Cancellations and communication from Qantas

Whilst I understand your friustration none of this is unique to LHI

For anyone reading consider those extra $$ for flying on a connecting ticket as part of the insurance. If you've started your flight they are u der more pressure to get you there... if you are a starter not so much

If you plan go to,LHI have a good look at the number of cancelled flight per year,,,,,, it may make you think twice

It's an unique destination for Moore than one reason

Victoria
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9. Re: Flight Cancellations and communication from Qantas

Tina, sorry to hear that your experience was similar to ours and as you saw having a flight with Qantas from Melb didn't help us in the slightest. I think that was the most frustrating thing for us - the lack of clear communication from Qantas, or the lack of care.

As the last poster has commented again, this seems to happen very frequently to LHI and we certainly didn't realise the extent of cancellations until it happened to us and then we heard so many stories of this happening to others. Our travel agent also commented that it is usually families that get the worst deal as trying to get 4/5 seats on another flight is much more difficult that to get one or two seats on a different flight. We thankfully had great travel insurance (1cover) who reimbursed everything and we rebooked a holiday elsewhere.

South Pacific
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10. Re: Flight Cancellations and communication from Qantas

" .... was thinking I should have booked a connecting flight all the way through from Melbourne to LHI."

Yep.

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