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Consumer NZ: Jetstar Misleading Passengers About Their Rights Under The Civil Aviation Act

Consumer NZ has lodged a complaint with the Commerce Commission alleging Jetstar is misleading passengers about their rights under the Civil Aviation Act and breaching the Fair Trading Act.

“When flights are delayed or cancelled for reasons within an airline’s control – which might be due to overbooking, mechanical issues, staff sickness – the airline has a responsibility to refund your flight and reimburse costs incurred from the cancellation or delay,” Consumer NZ Chief Executive Jon Duffy said.

“This could be for things like accommodation, rental car hire and other additional costs.

“Part of the issue is that Jetstar is claiming its liability is limited when consumers could be entitled to more. Jetstar is currently claiming that it only needs to provide ‘up to $150 AUD/NZD reimbursement per room’ for accommodation costs, ‘up to $30 reimbursement per person’ for meals, and that it will only pay for transfers in some circumstances when there has been a delay or cancellation within the airline’s control,” Duffy said.

“This is misleading because Jetstar is misrepresenting the limits of its liability under the Civil Aviation Act.”

There are also concerns that Jetstar could be misleading passengers by advising them that it is not liable to pay for overnight accommodation and additional costs, such as for meals and transportation, incurred as a result of an international flight delay within its control.

Jetstar’s website states that it is only required to provide a refund of the original fare, when in fact consumers may be entitled to claim for things like additional transportation costs – for example, for a flight on another airline.

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In July, Ahmed was due to fly from Queenstown to the UK, via Melbourne and Dubai. At Queenstown Airport’s check-in desk, he was told his Jetstar flight to Melbourne had been cancelled for ‘technical reasons’.

“Jetstar offered us no assistance at all,” Ahmed told Consumer. “They left us to it. Luckily, we [had] booked through a travel agent, who helped rearrange our flights. However, we were still left out of pocket because of the extra night spent in Queenstown.”

Consumer continues to receive large numbers of complaints from Jetstar customers about information provided to them when flights are cancelled or delayed for reasons within the airline's control.

“It is hugely concerning to us that passengers could be missing out on costs that they are legally entitled to and are having to go to great lengths to enforce their rights,” Duffy said.

“Jetstar cannot simply create their own policies that override the law and shirk their responsibility to compensate, when they are legally required to.”

Consumer contacted Jetstar about consumer rights and flight disruptions. Concerningly, Jetstar referred to the potentially misleading information on its website as evidence to show it is advising passengers of their rights.

In contrast, Air New Zealand has met with Consumer, updated its website and produced new guidelines for passengers affected by domestic flight disruptions.

The not-for-profit is requesting the Commerce Commission investigate this matter as soon as possible to prevent Jetstar from continuing to mislead passengers about their rights.

Consumer has launched a flight rights petition, demanding airlines tell you what your rights are when your flight is delayed or cancelled.

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