A Devon couple had their plans to spend 5 days in China ruined when a mix up by Qantas Airlines staff led to them being denied access to the flight to Beijing.
The couple were due to fly from Christchurch (New Zealand) to Sydney (Australia) with a connection to Beijing.
After visiting their son in New Zealand, they were now looking forward to spending some time in China. A recent change in travel regulations meant that would be allowed to stay in the capital Beijing without the need for a visa.
Problems first arose however during check-in, when staff at Christchurch airport refused them access to the Qantas flight.
Despite the ending of visa requirements, Qantas staff insisted that they needed to see approved visas prior to boarding the flight.
Realising that they would not be allowed to board, the couple requested that they be allowed to fly to Sydney, where they hoped that they would be able to further discuss the problem directly with staff at Qantas’ HQ. Their request was denied.
As a last resort, the couple decided to cut their losses and paid for new flights with Emirates from Christchurch to Dubai and ultimately back home to the UK.
After a national newspaper contacted Qantas about the incident, the airline admitted making mistakes and said that it was working with their check-in team to ensure this mistake doesn’t happen again.
Qantas has agreed to reimburse the couple for any costs incurred as a result of their error regarding visa requirements for China. However, in regards to the cancellation of their planned holiday and the stress and discomfort caused, it has offered them only £137 each in compensation.
Under EU law, if an airline denies travel on a long haul route, it would be required to pay compensation of up to four times that amount.
This story illustrates just how little consumer protection exists for passengers flying with Australian airlines.