A Melbourne woman is reeling after Jetstar left some passengers stranded in Townsville when a wild storm struck North Queensland last week and cancelled flights.
Geela Chee and her husband Brian were trying to make their way home after a trip to North Queensland when their flight out of Townsville was delayed on Monday, November 21. Three hours later, the airline announced the service had been cancelled due to the bad weather.
At first Ms Chee says ground staff told passengers Jetstar would provide accommodation, but after booking 10 rooms on a first-come first-served basis they rescinded the offer.
“They [the recovery team] called the ground staff again saying, oh sorry we actually can’t give any accommodation at all, nothing,” she told Yahoo News Australia. “Why? Because someone from their end made a mistake and apparently it is against their policy to provide anything at all during a cancellation due to weather.”
“So what happened? Only some people got free accommodation which is absolutely not fair.”
‘There was no remorse at all’
By this point it was around midnight and the couple had heard that accommodation in Townsville was running out quickly as hotel check-ins began to close. In desperation they made a reservation at a hotel the airline recommended and paid $160 to stay the night.
“Really the most painful thing is we went to the same accommodation that Jetstar had booked for others,” Ms Chee said, “and while we were checking in we overheard other people being told, oh yeh this is all paid for, you’re even going to get free breakfast that’s paid for by Jetstar.”
While Ms Chee and her husband were put on a recovery flight the next day, she says they’ve tried to contact Jetstar for a reimbursement of their out of pocket expenses but “have been offered nothing".
“There was just no remorse at all,” she said. “It was just so gut-wrenching that we were in the same plane with others and booked in the same hotel and we had to pay, but they didn’t.”
While hundreds of passengers were left stranded when storms hit Townsville last week, Jetstar’s lack of remuneration is a stark contrast to Virgin’s which offered guests $220 for accommodation and $50 for food.
“I am jealous that Virgin is giving them something because we were given nothing,” Ms Chee said, “like not even any food".
Jetstar apologises for hotel error
Jetstar has since apologised to Ms Chee and her husband for the “contradictory information they received” from staff in Townsville while admitting an error was made.
“While our compensation policy does not cover circumstances outside of our control including weather events, a small number of customers were mistakenly provided hotel rooms for the night,” the airline said in a statement to Yahoo News Australia.
Given the circumstances, Jetstar says “as a gesture of goodwill” it will reimburse Mr and Ms Chee for their accommodation costs.
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