Couple had to pay £10,000 to get home after airline’s mistake ruins holiday

Travel expert Simon Calder discusses airline cancellations

Holidaymakers had an “all-round horrible experience” after their airline’s big booking mistake meant they had to pay more than £10,000 so they weren’t stranded thousands of miles from home. Andrew Lewis and his wife Meagan’s nightmare began when they were told by Qantas that there were issues with the flights that would take them home to Australia from Europe.

They were told that a delay would mean that they would not arrive on time in Tokyo for their connecting flight, operated by Japan Airlines, back to Australia.

Initially the airline assured them they would be put on a different flight but were later told that was not possible.

They were then advised to make their way to Frankfurt for a different route home.

The problem with this instruction was they were in Amsterdam at the time, around 270 miles from the German city they’d been told to go to.

To get there they had to take a train in to catch a flight to Sydney, via Dubai.

The flights were with Emirates rather than Qantas so had to be paid for, at a total cost of just over £10,000.

Mr Lewis says he felt like they did not have any other options.

Speaking to News AU, he said: “There was no solution whatsoever other than to pay them an exorbitant amount of money to get out of there.

“We felt we had no other option because we had work obligations to get home to.

“We were away quite a time so we were forced to pay the money to them over the phone.”

To make things worse, the pair were told that Qantas would only be able to give them a refund for the flights they missed, and not for the flights they had to pay extra for when they were trying to get home in February.

Those tickets had initially been paid for with frequent flyer points, leaving them £10k out of pocket, with no money coming back to them from the airline.

The Sun reports it took weeks of phone calls from Mr Lewis for Qantas to put the points back on his account, after they weren’t initially returned to him, despite the airline saying they would be.

The couple also did not earn any additional points for the £10k flights they paid out for.

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Mr Lewis added: “After spending $19,000 I expected a bit better customer service than someone to just ignore refunding the points and not even attributing the points we gained on those next flights.”

Qantas has now offered Mr Lewis an apology and a refund on out-of-pocket costs he spent on flights to get home – almost three months after he first paid for them.

An airline spokesperson told “The reaccommodation of customers after a cancellation or schedule change is always the responsibility of the airline operating the flight.

“Once we became aware that Mr Lewis’ Japan Airlines flight had been delayed and that he required a new flight, we should have contacted Japan Airlines to resolve the booking. We apologise to Mr Lewis for this experience.”

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