Phantom flights cost Qantas $120m

Qantas plane in the air.| Newsreel
Qantas has been fined $100m and will pay customers $20m over phantom flights | Photo: Ermin Gut (iStock)

Qantas will pay a $100 million fine and re-pay customers $20 million after admitting it misled consumers by advertising tickets for flights it had already decided to cancel.

The ACCC said Qantas had agreed to the fine and in a court-enforceable undertaking to pay about $20 million to more than 86,000 customers who were sold tickets on flights that Qantas had already decided to cancel, or in some cases who were re-accommodated on these flights after their original flights were cancelled.

It said Qantas would pay $225 to domestic ticketholders and $450 to international ticketholders.

ACCC Chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb said these payments were on top of any remedies these consumers already received from Qantas, such as alternative flights or refunds.

“We are pleased to have secured these admissions by Qantas that it misled its customers,” Ms Cass-Gottlieb said.

“Qantas’ conduct was egregious and unacceptable. Many consumers will have made holiday, business and travel plans after booking on a phantom flight that had been cancelled.”

The ACCC launched Federal Court action against Qantas in August 2023 alleging that, between May 21, 2021 and July 7, 2022, Qantas advertised tickets for more than 8000 cancelled flights.

It was also alleged that, for more than 10,000 flights scheduled to depart in May to July 2022, Qantas did not promptly notify existing ticketholders that their flights had been cancelled.

Ms Cass-Gottlieb said Qantas has undertaken to notify customers of cancelled flights as soon as practicable, and no more than 48 hours from deciding to cancel the flight.

“It has also undertaken to stop selling cancelled flights as soon as practicable, and in any event within 24 hours of its decision to cancel. The undertaking also applies to its low-cost subsidiary, Jetstar.”

Ms Cass-Gottlieb said Qantas would contact affected consumers about the payment scheme by July 10, 2024, and consumers should direct queries about the scheme to Qantas.

“Consumers will receive communications from Qantas and Deloitte Australia, which is administering the payments on behalf of Qantas, via email and text message, providing information on accessing a portal to facilitate the payment.”

She said consumers should be aware of scammers pretending to make contact on behalf of Qantas or Deloitte and they should only provide their personal information through the official claims portal, and not to anyone else.

Read the undertaking offered by Qantas and accepted by the ACCC.