Qantas Airpass disappoints on two counts

George Hobica, December 08, 2008
Fares from Washington DC:

    A couple of lessons here:

    Many "air passes" and other non-standard airfare deals do not grant frequent flyer miles on partner airlines, so it's good to double check the rules in writing before you buy;

    and second, airpasses may indeed not always be good value compared to buying fares individually.

    Here's one consumer's tale of woe where she feels she was shortchanged both on frequent flyer miles and on value. So read and don't make the same mistake:

    My husband and I are American Aadvantage frequent flyers.  When we contacted Qantas Vacations last June to book travel to Australia from Boston using Qantas's Aussie Airpass, we asked the travel agent whether we'd be able to earn Aadvantage miles by flying on Qantas for this particular trip.  The travel agent said yes and collected our frequent flier numbers when making our booking.  We paid $4100 for two Airpasses plus a weeklong rental car.  In retrospect, this was NOT a deal and we could have done better on our own, as we usually do (we've planned our own trips to Japan, Scandinavia, the Mediterranean, Peru, and Mexico).  Qantas Vacations, however, bills themselves as the "Australia" specialists so we figured they could answer our questions with confidence.
     
    We flew to Australia. We flew around Australia.  We flew back.  Upon our return, I checked our American Airlines account.  We were credited for one half of one flight from Boston to Los Angeles.  We did not receive a single mile for our flights to and from and around Australia although the Qantas gate agents cheerfully took note of our frequent flier numbers every time we presented them at check-in.
     
    We called American.  American informed us that Qantas does not allow American Aadvantage members to earn miles for "Q-coded" flights, which are the flights we were booked on.
     
    We called customer service at Qantas Vacations and informed them that they told us before we bought our tickets that we would earn miles for our flights.  They again told us that they believed we were supposed to earn miles.  I told them what American told me.  Stumped, the friendly customer service representative told me he would try and fix the situation, since Qantas Vacations were the folks who told us we'd get miles for these flights. I also told him I would not have flown Qantas if I wasn't able to earn miles (I would have flown another airline that would at least let us earn 22,000 miles for that long haul!)
     
    By the way, the customer service representative informed me that Qantas Vacations was not part of Qantas Airlines and that they were two separate companies.  I pointed him to the following language on their
    website that stated we'd earn miles for travel on Qantas. 
    "

    QANTAS AIRWAYS is a global carrier with over 200 aircraft offering service to 143 destinations in 36 countries. Qantas now celebrates 53 years of continuous flying between North America and Australia with more non-stop flights to Australia and New Zealand than any other airline.

    Experience makes the difference. Qantas offers up to 43 weekly flights departing from New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Honolulu to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Auckland. Connections are available from most North American cities. Qantas flies to more than 50 Australian domestic and 5 New Zealand cities.

    Only Qantas offers the Business Class Skybed sleeper seat on all non-stop transpacific flights to Australia and New Zealand. Inflight, Qantas offers complimentary bar and meal service as well as your own free personal entertainment system in all classes (including quality kids' programming). Earn mileage on the Qantas Frequent Flyer program, or from one of our partners: Alaska, American, Continental and Mexicana Airlines in addition to Qantas' oneworld alliance partners. So come, let Qantas Airways spoil you. You deserve it."

    After I sent that email to the customer service representative, I waited to hear back.  A few days later, this was the response I received, from another customer service representative:
     
    We also apologize for the problem with your American Advantage account.  American's rules prevent the full mileage to be accumulated and that is their decision to make.  However, had we advised you of this fact when you presented your membership numbers, at least you would have been aware of the limitations rather than learning about them upon your return.
     
    As a leading tour operator to the region, we offer a wide range of travel products meant to encourage your continuing business.  Occasionally we stumble and in this case you were the worse off for our shortcomings.  For this, we sincerely apologize.
     
    Respectfully,
     
    Matt Banegas / Customer Service
     
    _____________________________
    Matt Banegas
    Customer Service
     
     
    His apology is great and heartfelt I'm sure, but this doesn't fix the problem they created at all.  I'm still out $4100 and no miles. Do I have any rights here?  At minimum, I think Qantas Vacations should refund us $400, which is 10% of the price we paid for our Airpass and rental car - which I found out later wasn't really a "deal" at all.  It is not our fault they don't know the rules for the flights they book and say anything just to make a sale.
     
    Sorry I'm so longwinded and please feel free to edit as you see fit in case you want to publish this.  I'm not sure it is an "airfare" issue.  I'm just steaming mad and am not sure what to do. Qantas Vacations made a misrepresentation when they sold us the tickets.  Qantas blames American.  American blames Qantas.  I'm sitting here with no miles.

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