Qantas/JAL refusing to honour First/Business classic rewards booking

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  • marco7188
    Participant

    Hi all,

    I’m seeking some advice here from seasoned travellers.

    Back in December, I made a classic rewards booking on the Qantas site for flights between Paris and Sydney on JAL in mixed First and Business class.

    A few weeks ago, I noticed that one of the sectors was cancelled so I called Qantas to get the date changed. They rebooked me in Premium Economy without my authorisation and said they would put in a request to JAL to reinstate the ticket to Business/First within 24hrs.

    It’s now been a few weeks and no changes have been made, I’ve spoken to 5 different agents who all tell me there is no classic rewards availability in Business/First and there is nothing they can do.

    I’m not sure why that’s my problem (plenty of cash fares available) as they should just rebook me onto the next available flight but Qantas is refusing to do so.

    The best advice I was given is to cancel (which I don’t want to do as 1 month away from travel there is of course no availability and cash fares are very expensive)

    Has anybody faced a similar situation? As my flight leaves from the EU, does this constitute involuntary downgrade under EU law?

    The easy fix would be to simply book me back into business/First which is what I paid for.

    Any help or guidance would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks


    MartynSinclair
    Participant

    Marco7188 – isn’t this similar to the BA position. Only limited number of avios seats in premium classes per flight. Even if there are changes/cancellations, only unused avios allocation will be released, irrespective of any revenue tickets still selling.

    Never yet been able to use a Gold Upgrade voucher from club to F, as BA would never release seats, if the avios allocation had been sold.


    marco7188
    Participant

    Yeah I think you are right. Thing is I would understand if I wanted to change dates or even reroute but the cancellation was not my choice and basically their answer is tough luck which doesn’t seem fair.

    If I was at the airport checked in for the flight and they cancelled the flight, would they leave me stranded under the pretext that there are no reward seats available for the next few weeks? Probably not (I’d hope so anyways) so it’s not much different from my situation?

    I’ve booked First/Business, they’ve rebooked me in premium economy and they’ve also not refunded me the points difference…


    AMcWhirter
    Participant

    Marco7188 – this is not the usual routing between Europe and Sydney and JAL (who I presume you are flying from CDG to HND) is so yield conscious.

    I know from experience that (in pre-pandemic days) Japanese and South Korean airlines only release discounted capacity for Europe-Australia flights when they have lots of empty seats.

    Why ? Because is many cases the fares from Europe to Japan or South Korea are more expensive than the cost of tickets between Europe and Australia via Japan/South Korea.

    Would one think JAL is more yield conscious today because as you may have read in our News section JAL is having to make a significant detour to avoid Russian airspace.

    It pushes up JAL’s operational costs.

    France’s DGAC could surely advise you on EU261 or you check with the EU itself

    https://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/travel/passenger-rights/air/index_en.htm


    MartinJ
    Participant

    This looks rather straightforward to me. You have a valid contract of carriage, which includes transport in the agreed class of service. If the other party defaults they become liable for damages. I would book a replacement ticket and claim the cost through the courts. Best to get lawyer’s advice before you do this, though.


    TrentS
    Participant

    Hi Marco7188,

    I am in exactly the same boat, except I had no option other than to cancel.

    I was very happy when I managed to score a classic rewards business seat from Sydney to New York on JAL – the first time I would fly business as it was a very special occasion. I was supposed to be travelling return early July, and I booked the seats in October last year. Being a bronze QFF member with most points earned on the ground I thought I had won the lottery to get the seats (not to mention this was postponed from the beginning of Covid where I had actually booked and paid for SIA business return seats through an online travel agent and then took 8 months and Amex to step in to get my money back as it had been refunded to the travel agent and they did not pass the refund back to me).

    Around 2 months ago I got notification that 2 of my JAL flights had been cancelled. One had been automatically rebooked with a -5hr layover making it impossible to connect with the flight, and the other was cancelled. I was left in limbo.

    I called Qantas, first time I was hung up on after waiting over 2 hrs, and the second time I got a Qantas call centre agent who was genuine in trying to help me. She managed to get me on the Qantas flights to and from Tokyo (one leg in economy but I was willing to accept this), and the JAL flights from Tokyo to New York. She somehow managed to get these seats from sellable stock.

    One month ago, Qantas cancelled the flights Sydney to Tokyo due to Japan not opening to international travellers. I pleaded with Qantas and asked what could be done. They continuously repeated “we can look for classic reward availablity”, but of course there were none so close to the departure date. I asked them if they could put me on a Qantas operated flights Sydney to New York, but they said they could only reroute me if my tickets were cancelled – in their books the fact that part of my tickets were cancelled did not constitute my whole ticket being cancelled, even though I could not get to my destination (and I couldn’t even pay for tickets to Tokyo on another carrier as they would be ticketed separately and therefore I would need to clear customs to be able to change flights, which was impossible as I could not enter Japan. I even asked who at Qantas could take a sellable seat from their existing stock and change it into an award seat, so we could go on the trip we had been planning for years, but I had no luck with this.

    In the end Qantas said they would make enquiries but if I didn’t hear from them in a couple of days then I would just need to cancel as there was nothing I could do – they wiped their hands of me, said they couldn’t help, and my only option was to cancel my tickets, which I did (to make it even worse my taxes we refunded automatically, and when I had not received my points back after around 3 weeks I called to check, and they needed to manually refund them as the system didn’t do it – if I hadn’t called and waited the 4th time for more than 2 hours I never would have received my points back).

    I even have a close friend who works in a different Qantas affiliated travel agency – she wanted to help me and tried contacting anyone she knew who may be able to help, but in the end she had no luck either – according to the terms and conditions they have no responsibility to help other than to find another “classic reward” seat, which of course there were none.

    This is a special occasion for us (delayed 50th for my husband, and now 10th wedding anniversary). Also as you point out the tickets are ridiculously expensive at the moment.

    The usual cost of business before Covid started from around $6k, but everyone was starting at just under $10k now. I actually managed to nudge our dates slights and find a PAL flight for $6.5k each, which I have booked. At least they are all lie flat Sydney to New York, but it is just an additional $13k we didn’t really need to spend right now.

    I have been a Qantas FF for years and booked classic reward flights before without issue, however in economy. As this was a special occasion we treated ourselves to business as we would usually not be able to afford this and really wanted to fly business this once.

    Unfortunately I don’t think there is much that can be done as it’s in their terms and conditions, but I am really unimpressed with Qantas.

    I hope you get to your destination! 😀


    rferguson
    Participant

    This looks rather straightforward to me. You have a valid contract of carriage, which includes transport in the agreed class of service.

    This is what most of us would think. But the reality is, when you read through those pages and pages of small print there is very little that the airline guarantees the passenger in the ‘contract’.

    Essentially – they guarantee to get you from A to B via some means at some point in time. And that’s about it. They don’t even contract to get you on the flight they have confirmed you on, let alone in the cabin you’ve selected.

    Most airlines will try and offer a range of options from a service recovery perspective in cases similar to the OP’s. I guess it very much depends on the specifics. I know at BA that if they cancel a flight and the next available flight has no redemption availability but does have J class seats available, they will still allocate these seats to disrupted Avios itineraries.

    The OP’s situation is further complicated as he is booking via the QF Loyalty platform for travel on a OW partner in their premium cabins. JAL might be more accommodating for one of their own frequent flyers in this case than one from a partner airline. The decision would be totally down to JAL in dealing with this and QANTAS would have no option but to follow the JAL rule book.


    MartynSinclair
    Participant

    The OP’s situation is further complicated as he is booking via the QF Loyalty platform for travel on a OW partner in their premium cabins. JAL might be more accommodating for one of their own frequent flyers in this case than one from a partner airline. The decision would be totally down to JAL in dealing with this and QANTAS would have no option but to follow the JAL rule book.

    Out of curiosity – would the seat released by JAL (or any other airline in similar circumstances) using another O/W ‘points’ scheme, be a zero revenue ticket or is there some revenue passed between the airlines or the ‘points’ scheme(s)..


    marco7188
    Participant

    Some great news, I have actually managed to get this sorted out!!

    I ended up with an agent who knew exactly what they were doing. The suggestion for anyone in a similar situation is perseverance and hopefully you’ll win the call center agent lottery and get someone on the phone willing to help as opposed to just wanting to get you off the phone.

    In a nutshell, if you face a similar situation.

    Find suitable replacement flights you want (cash fares, not rewards), then call the airline (pray to get someone good). They’ll put in the requested flights on your booking (you should be able to see them) and then they will put a request through to the One World Liaison desk (internal to the airline) who will contact the partner airline (in this case JAL) and if they are okay you will receive confirmation (I did under 6hrs from the call with the agent).

    Good luck!


    FormerBA
    Participant

    Alex the fare and yield are irrelevant. JL cancelled – EU 261 kicks in. No compensation, but rebooking re routing or refund but the choice is the customers

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    FormerBA
    Participant

    Marco7188 – isn’t this similar to the BA position. Only limited number of avios seats in premium classes per flight. Even if there are changes/cancellations, only unused avios allocation will be released, irrespective of any revenue tickets still selling.

    Never yet been able to use a Gold Upgrade voucher from club to F, as BA would never release seats, if the avios allocation had been sold.

    It is irrelevant if reward seat are available. JL cancelled therefore EU261 kicks in. There is no compensation but right to re book, re route or refund does and only the customer has the choice


    FormerBA
    Participant

    This is very straight forward indeed as the flight departs from the EU and consequently EU261 applies.

    The flight was cancelled more than two from departure therefore no compensation is due.

    However, the rules require that you are either

    re-booked on the first available flight in “comparable travel conditions” on the same day even if that is on another carrier. Avios / Reward availability does not need to exist.

    or

    Re-booked at a date an time of your choosing. Note this is important, the airline cannot dictate this, the choice is yours, again reward availability does not need to exist

    or

    A full refund to the original form of payment. This is again only a choice you can make, this cannot be forced on you. It is also the very last thing you should do!

    I suspect the issues is that OZ staff don’t know the rules and are going for the line of least resistance.

    Investigate the French equivalent of CEDR and MCOL. I believe they are like rottweilers with this.

    BA tried this on with me last year when the cancelled LHR HKG In F. Cash plus avios. I pushed it to this year when they again cancelled, and I will now be on Qatar in F in a full A class fare bucket.

    When the carrier cancels they haven’t a leg to stand on

    https://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/travel/passenger-rights/air/index_en.htm

    NB this article states the law no longer applies to UK departures which is technically true, however the UK adopted this regulation and it is known as UK261

    Do not treat this as a downgrade it is not. Your flight was cancelled and therfore the rules on cancellation aply and are clear. Good Luck

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