Flight delay compensation in Australia?

Airlines should pay passengers for flight delays, says money comparison site
ESCAPE
MAY 21, 2014 5:30PM

Tigerair was the worst performer for on-time performance among Australian airlines in March 2014. Source: Supplied

ONE in five Australian domestic flights last year was delayed or cancelled, prompting a call for airlines to offer compensation to passengers.

About 125,000 flights were delayed or cancelled in 2013, with more than 20 million passengers estimated to be affected, figures from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics show.

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Finder.com.au money expert Michelle Hutchison said it was time for airlines to follow Europe’s lead and compensate passengers who experience significant delays.

“Lost time, missed connections, food and accommodation expenses all add up for the disgruntled flyer,” she said.

“This level of service could be tightened if airlines were more accountable and were forced to pay out for travel delays.

“Compensation laws in Europe for instance, see passengers who are delayed by more than five hours are eligible for a full refund.”

Flight delays can be frustrating – especially if you’re left out of pocket. Source: ThinkStock
In March this year alone, there were more than 16,000 disrupted domestic flights.

Qantas was the most punctual airline, with 88.5 per cent of domestic flights departing and 87 per cent of flights arriving on time. Tigerair was the worst performer – departing on time just 76 per cent and arriving 71 per cent of scheduled flights.

Almost one in five (17 per cent) complaints received by the Airline Customer Advocate last year were concerning flight delays or cancellations.

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Of the major airlines, Tigerair attracted the most complaints about flight delays and cancellations in 2013.

Tigerair has vowed to improve, and has said that where cancellations do occur, every effort is always made to minimise the disruption for passengers through the provision of transfers onto other Tigerair services or through its new re-accommodation arrangement with Virgin Australia.

When flights are delayed or cancelled, airlines do sometimes offer refunds.

Qantas said in the rare event of a long delay, its customers can be provided with meals, accommodation, transportation, bonus Frequent Flyer points and/or refunds.

Virgin Australia said alternative flights, food vouchers and accommodation, alternative modes of transport, reimbursement for additional transportation costs and a credit or refund may be offered to its customers.

Ms Hutchison said travel insurance may help travellers cover the cost of significant delays or disruptions.

“You can’t rely on airlines to provide compensation for travel disruptions so it’s important to consider travel insurance before taking off, even if it’s for a domestic trip,” she said.

“Most providers will offer cover for additional meals and accommodation expenses if your journey is disrupted due to circumstances beyond your control after an initial six-hour delay.”

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