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Airline Consumer Advocate saw 4,000 Qantas complaints last year

written by Jake Nelson | August 2, 2023

Seth Jaworski shot this Qantas A330 and 737-800 at Sydney Airport.

Unpublished data from the Airline Consumer Advocate has revealed thousands of complaints about Qantas in 2022.

In draft documents obtained by The Australian Financial Review, which have been held back from publication since April, the advocate found that despite lower passenger numbers post-pandemic, there was a sharp increase last year in complaints about the Flying Kangaroo over pre-pandemic levels.

According to the ACA, it received 6,918 total customer complaints last year, with 1,426 deemed to be “eligible complaints”. Of the total complaints, around 4,000 were related to Qantas, the highest of any major airline, followed by Jetstar, Virgin Australia, and Rex.

Complaints related to areas such as the difficulty of being able to use Qantas’s COVID-19 flight credits, flight cancellations, service issues, and refunds.

The ACA said the number of eligible complaints “represents an increase of 138 per cent on the previous year… with complaints relating to COVID-19 impacts, flight delays and cancellations, refund requests, and fees and charges representing the biggest areas for customer dissatisfaction in 2022.”


A Qantas spokesperson said the ACA’s data is old, and that the airline has made significant improvements since it was collected.

“This reporting period started 19 months ago when it was clear our service wasn’t back to our best. A lot has changed since and we expect the report will be different this year,” the spokesperson said.

“We’ve worked hard to improve and the feedback from customers shows we have.”

In 2022, Qantas faced a string of problems, including huge delays at Easterhours-long call wait times, and even a revelation that the cabin crew of a Qantas A330 were made to sleep across seats in economy.

However, Australian Aviation reported in November how Qantas shifted from being the worst airline in the country for cancellations to being the best. The turnaround led to Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce declaring his airline is “back to its best” earlier this year.

In its March report, the ACCC noted that it had received 1,740 contacts regarding Qantas in the 2021–22 financial year, the highest of any company in Australia. The number was up 68 per cent compared to the year prior and well ahead of Jetstar at 544 and Virgin at 359.

The ACCC noted in its report that contacts do not necessarily reflect breaches of Australian Consumer Law (ACL) or the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (CCA), as they include enquiries about consumers’ rights, complaints about conduct that would not breach those laws, complaints about situations outside the airlines’ control such as airport facilities and ATC, and unconfirmed or unverified allegations.

The report did, though, note that such a significant rise in contacts is “generally indicative of a high level of dissatisfaction with that company” and an inability to address customer complaints.

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