By Rose Donohoe
Any traveller who has experienced a flight delay or cancellation knows the inconvenience it causes.
A recent report from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics found that flight cancellations increased last month for Aussie travellers.
In the month of June, one-fifth of travellers lost time due to flight delays, while 2.2 percent of flights were cancelled.
In Australia, airlines aren’t compelled to compensate travellers, while in the EU the average payout for a delay is a generous $A900.
In response to the discrepancy, consumer advocate CHOICE has called for the industry to introduce a standardised compensation system.
“It’s time we held airlines financially accountable for delays and cancellations within their control,” CHOICE spokesman Tom Godfrey saidy
The worst offenders
Last month, the percentage of cancelled flights rose from the long-term average of 1.4 per cent to 2.2 percent.
In June, the airline most likely to cancel on you was Virgin Australia at 2.6 percent.
The least likely to cancel on you was Regional Express at 1.5 percent, followed closely by flagship Australian carrier Qantas at 1.7 percent.
Tigerair fell in the middle of the pack at 2.1 percent.
Feel for the travellers flying between Brisbane and Moranbah: cancellations were at a whopping 8.4 percent for that route in June.
Sunshine Coast to Sydney was another unreliable route, with cancellations at 6.9 percent.
For the country’s most popular flight route, Sydney to Melbourne was also way above the average at 5.4 percent.
It’s good news for Mount Isa residents in Queensland: the city had the best percentage of on-time arrivals at 95.9 percent, as well as the best performance for on-time departures.
On the other hand, those travelling to and from Ayers Rock should leave room for delays in their itineraries: the airport had the lowest percentage of on-time arrivals (68.3 percent) and on-time departures (61.7 percent).
Calls for better compensation
CHOICE’s Mr Godfrey said the Australian airline industry needed to start compensating its customers for poor delivery.
“It’s time we held airlines financially accountable for delays and cancellations within their control,” he said.
“Currently, there is no set compensation for consumers in Australia when an airline keeps you grounded.”
In addition to the standard $A900 travellers are awarded in the EU, airlines also offer refunds on flights, meals, refreshments, phone calls, emails and accommodation.
In New Zealand – another comparable nation – travellers are awarded up to 10 times the ticket cost or the actual amount of damage incurred (whatever is less) for a three-hour delay or cancellation.
In the US, a traveller whose plane is delayed more than two hours can claim up to $1300 in compensation, or up to $650 for a delay between one and two hours.
A recent report by CHOICE found that 63 per cent of Aussie travellers affected by a delay or cancellation in the past 12 months weren’t offered anything in the way of compensation.
As well as calling for a standardised compensation model, CHOICE has launched new website Complane.com.au for customers to report their bad experiences.
The site aims to put the onus back on airlines by publicly naming and shaming.