Travel Agencies Expert Talks
Flight Centre and bereavement
We are in the unfortunate position where we have lost 2 family member is a week which in itself is a tough things to deal with. We are scheduled to depart within a few weeks and due to the unforeseen circumstance need to change our flights (which we booked through Flight Centre) and bring them forward by a week. My wife did the right thing and went back Flight Centre Indooroopilly and started asking what our options are given our situation. The initial response from the travel agent was that he will have to charge us $175 per ticket to make the changes and we would also be up for fare adjustments due to the change in departure date. At no point was compassion considered by the travel agent and his only position it would seem was to make a commission and apply charges regardless of our situation. After we called the airline ourselves and explained our position they said that they would waiver the $150 change charge (NOT $175 as per flight centre) on compassionate grounds as long as we can produce the relevant documentation. The airline did mention that they are not allowed to make the changes due to privacy laws and that we would have to go through the booking agency - Flight Centre When we called the guy at Flight Centre he agreed that if this is the case then they would waiver the change fee as well. Notice here that we had done all the calling around at this stage and not Flight Centre and the level of compassion thus far has been non-existent. He was more interested in conveying the charges they would have to apply instead of assisting us in what can only be described as a very emotional and stressful time. He then prepared us a quote which included the fare adjustments because we are changing the departure date so we can leave earlier. The quote blew me out of the water as the amount was significant. I again called the airline to query the fee adjustment charge and again the said due to our circumstances they would be willing to waiver those charges but once again the airline can't make any changes to the tickets and it was all up to Flight Centre. I will next time be dealing directly with the airlines so we can make changes as I need without being charge for every little thing. Flight Centre has clearly demonstrated to me that compassion is not in the company's best interest and it would seem that it is all about commissions. I will definitely not be using Flight Centre again or recommend their services to anyone I know.
Tips for travelling: I have just had to cancel a trip to travel on the Rocky Mountaineer that I booked through FlightCentre. You would not believe how much money organisations pocket when they book something for you! I am grateful however for the employee who was the 'go betweener' for myself and the organisation. I paid $2375 pp (total $4750) for this trip through FlightCentre. Yesterday they told me they would only refund me $1412 pp (Total $2824 refund) in which I will be losing $1926 total from this cancellation through them. There was still over 80 days to go before this trip was to be had. But you would not believe this so read on... I have just finished speaking direct with the Rocky Mountaineer Consultants (trip that I had booked) in Canada including the Wholesaler Department at 2.11am yesterday morning. They have informed me: 1. If I had of booked directly through them they would only be charging $133 per person per ticket cancelling today, and I could cancel direct through them. 2. That their cancellation fee is only $133 per person cancelling today, and that is all they will charge FlightCentre, however as I booked through a wholesaler I need to cancel through them. The Wholesaler Department stated that they can only tell me their fees, but I may also be applicable for cancellation fees direct through the wholesaler and they could not tell me these as it was the wholesaler who set these. 3. The Wholesaler conditions is completely different to the cancellation fee from Rocky Mountaineer, that is, Rocky Mountaineer has their cancellation fee of $133 per person, plus the Wholesaler would then probably have their cancellation fees with me direct. 4. in the future to save difficutlies book directly through them via phone or online and if I cancel or change the ticket it will not be so expensive as going through a travel agent / wholesaler 5. As the ticket is not booked directly through them I have to advise the travel agent and they need to cancel it. I am somewhat disappointed that firstly I was told by FlightCentre that it was only $600 per person to cancel if done outside the 60 days (email 13 January), then to discover yesterday that I will lose half of each ticket because the Wholesalers (btw their wholesaler is Infinity Rail which is owned and operated as a part of the Flight Centre Limited Group) quoted the wrong cancellation pricing to me. It is also disappointing to know that it only costs to cancel direct through the Rocky Mountaineer $133 per person, which leaves me with the thought of who is pocketing all the money from cancellation? This means that someone pockets $1926! So if you are travelling, be wise. I have learnt this - do your own bookings if you dont want to lose money, ask if they are booking through a Wholesaler and what the Wholesalers cancellation fees are because they can be different to who you are directly booking through and they can be added on - ask for the Wholesaler cancellation policy. The rest of the trip to Canada I had booked myself and wola, I got all my money refunded back to me for that as there was still over 80 days to go! FlightCentre, please stop changing your cancellation policy and telling a customer one thing only to tell them a couple of weeks later 'sorry we made a mistake about our cancellation policy. It is actually this much more expensive!'
Flightcentre have turned me off travel agents. They weren't able to give basic advice on travelling overseas. My niece reminded me about appropriate vaccinations. If you book through an agent you have to get the refund and rebook through that agent so if you want to re-arrange what has been booked in a hurry you can't. The verbal pricing didn't include taxes to get 'deals' which weren't cheaper for me. Kickbacks for them? I am now doing a day and a half of travel and an overnight stay instead of a direct flight home and have travelled all sorts of weird hours and 'stopovers' which haven't saved me anything. Even when I came to them with the details of the hotel I wanted they booked the wrong hotel and I couldn't change it. Do it yourself. If they no longer exist as any industry it is because they failed to offer a genuinely customer focused service.
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