More than two years after the pandemic first moved around the world, some Australians still struggle to claim the promised flight credits.
Sydneysider Pete Sommers booked approximately $6000 worth of tickets to London in 2019 using the flight website BYOjet, owned by the Flight Center Travel Group.
When flights were grounded at the pandemic’s start, he was happy to accept flight credits, but only recently has he realized how difficult it is to redeem them.
“When we try to reach them, they don’t answer or answer the phone,” Sommers told news gear.
“I’ve had a few emails, but it’s a delaying tactic.”
He said that after traveling back and forth for a week, he allowed him to book the ticket for a one-way ticket but not for the return flight.
Three out of more than 1,100 one-star ratings for BYOjet. Photo: Delivered
BYOjet touts “great prices with no booking fees” on its website, but several unhappy customers claim exorbitant fees have been charged to rebook their flights during the pandemic.
More than 1,100 one-star reviews have been posted online, with customers accusing the company of being unresponsive and one customer even claiming that the site was “chasing” their money.
A similar number of positive reviews have also been made, but there is almost no middle ground regarding feedback.
A spokesperson for BYOjet’s parent company apologized for the inconvenience.
“About BYOjet, it is a cheap website,” the spokesperson told TND.
“It doesn’t have the same human network as a brand like Flight Center, so it sometimes takes longer to respond to and resolve customer concerns.
“Even Flight Centre, which has some 300 stores across Australia, has seen customers queuing for the stores in recent weeks.”
Consumer group CHOICE previously criticized Flight Center and subsidiaries such as BYOjet for making customers wait months to redeem their travel credit.
In some cases, customers had to pay additional fees that exceeded what the airline would have charged for rebooking.
The Flight Center spokesperson clarified to TND that about 70 percent of the travel credits have already been redeemed. The spokesperson also said that most of the hiccups occurred more than two years ago, at the pandemic’s start.
Flight Center has been criticized for its flight credit policy during the pandemic. Photo: AAP
It’s not just travel agencies that give passengers a headache.
In February, airline analysts accused some airlines of playing “a cruel cancellation game”, while CHOICE found that a fifth of Australians had been unable to redeem their airline-issued flight credits from the pandemic.
Mr. Sommers said he had no luck trying to escalate the matter with Virgin Australia, instead being sent back to BYOjet, who did not return his calls.
He added: “It just goes back to the same ‘hold’ tune, and it just goes on for hours.”