Travel Compensation – Australia catches up

An article in the travel page on the weekend told of a couple’s woeful experience flying Qantas from Sydney to Frankfurt where their flight departure was delayed by four hours due to mechanical problems, and then another two hours delay in Singapore due to further problems. Of course they missed their connecting flight from Frankfurt to Malpensa where they were starting a Mediterranean cruise. There were some 70 passengers affected by the delays and the flight staff did not offer any assistance to find passengers alternative flights. They were left to fend for themselves, as a result of which some people missed the cruise departure at Genoa and had to join the ship at the next port. What a dreadful story and unpleasant way to commence a holiday!

Reading this story, I really felt for these people as I, as well as many others I’m sure, have been through degrees of this horrible experience. One understands that mechanical problems do arise and delays for whatever reason will occur, but the airline’s total denial of the problems caused to passengers and lack of customer service is absolutely unforgiveable. Many travellers are not that experienced and travel disruptions or having to sought out problems in a foreign destination can be very stressful for them. We’ve had our share of inconveniences – on one occasion, Tony’s bag arrived a day after our tour commenced and had to be couriered to our next destination. After a 30-hour flight, having to live in the same clothing for another whole day was not fun! On another occasion, I was connecting up with Tony in LA on a commuter flight to San Diego. As my flight was three hours late in departing, I had very little time to collect my bag and make it to the SouthWest Airline terminal, which was at the far end of a rectangular block. I asked the flight staff for assistance and was told that there’d be ground staff to help out. Of course there was not a single ground staff in sight and I had to run with my luggage along three sides of the rectangle to the SouthWest check-in. Although this incident was many years ago, I still remember it so clearly, as I had no means of contacting Tony had I missed the connecting flight and the long run with the luggage was most stressful.

It’s good to see that the Australian government is now proposing new laws to bring Australia in line with the Montreal Convention which was ratified by some 86 countries. Our current system apparently was capped at an amount set in 1929 and in a currency that no longer exists, the Franc Poincare. Very bizzare indeed! So, for flight delays of more than a certain number of hours, missing baggage or in the event of injuries or death from a plane crash, passengers will soon be able to claim, no questions asked. Many of the other countries ratied the agreement in 2003 and 2004, so we’re been pretty slow Down Under.

Travel Tip:
We now make sure that we have one set of clothing in each other’s case so that if either of our bags are delayed, there’d at least be a clean set of clothes to change into. Of course if both bags go missing, then we back to square one.


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