A recent survey conducted by consumer group CHOICE has found that a significant number of air travelers have faced disruptions in the past year. The survey, which included almost 9,000 respondents, revealed that 40% experienced flight cancellations or delays, raising concerns as the busy Christmas season approaches.
Bea Sherwood, Senior Campaigns and Policy Advisor at CHOICE, commented on the findings: “As we head into the Christmas season, a huge number of people will be relying on flights to visit family and friends. Unfortunately, our survey of almost 9,000 people from across the country has found consumers still face a number of difficulties when dealing with the aviation industry.”
Sherwood further emphasized the impact of these disruptions: “Our survey found 2 in 5 respondents had their flight cancelled or delayed in the past year – this does not bode well for the upcoming busy Christmas and New Year period when airports will be flooded with travellers flying to visit loved ones.”
The survey also shed light on the following issues:
- 63% of respondents who had a flight cancelled reported no reason was provided for the cancellation.
- 65% found the cancellation process somewhat or very hard.
- Only 47% who pursued a refund for a flight cancellation received it within a month, and 20% had to wait over six months.
- 85% of those who had a flight delayed were not offered any accommodation or meal vouchers.
Sherwood highlighted the severity of these issues: “The fact that people continue to experience such significant difficulties with air travel is simply not good enough. Our survey found people are feeling frustrated as flights continue to be delayed and cancelled, often without reason or sufficient warning.”
She also addressed the challenges in obtaining refunds or compensation: “To make matters worse, many customers do not receive satisfactory refunds or compensation when their flight is delayed or cancelled. For those who do actually end up receiving a refund, they often have to fight tooth and nail with the airline for months.”
In response, CHOICE, along with the Consumers’ Federation of Australia, has submitted proposals to the Federal Government’s Aviation Green Paper. These include establishing a new independent travel and tourism industry ombuds scheme, setting minimum compensation arrangements for delayed or cancelled flights, clarifying rights for refunds, and defining minimum requirements for travel credits.
Sherwood expressed optimism about the potential for change: “CHOICE looks forward to the Federal Government’s final Aviation White Paper. We hope it will set out a clear plan to strengthen consumer protection in the aviation industry.”
This survey from CHOICE underscores the urgent need for reforms in the aviation industry, particularly as travelers navigate the challenges of holiday season travel.