Qantas and American Airlines hitting customers with last minute 'surprise fees' at check-in


Qantas and American Airlines are charging customers 'surprise fees' for baggage at check-in for codeshare flights that they later both deny responsibility for. Here is an example of how the scam works:

A customer purchases a ticket from Qantas for a two-leg flight. One of the legs is on American Airlines. It is a codeshare flight and the ticket is issued as a QF (Qantas) ticket. Prior to the flight, Qantas assures the customer that the Qantas baggage rules apply and that no extra fees will be charged.

At check-in, American Airlines refuse to carry the luggage unless an additional fee is paid. They claim (incorrectly) that the fee is being charged under Qantas rules, referring to the incorrect page on the Qantas website to justify the fee. The amount charged is also not in accordance with Qantas pricing. They insist that the fee is being charged on behalf of Qantas and that if the fee is incorrect the customer simply has to inform Qantas staff before they board the next flight to get a refund. This tactic in employed in 'high pressure' environments, for example when there is a long queue of people or the customer is dealing with children throwing a tantrum, so they choose the 'easier' option of paying the fee and chasing it up later.

No Qantas staff are present prior to boarding the next flight. On arrival in Australia the Qantas staff refuse to discuss the issue and refer the customer to Qantas' online 'customer care' portal. Qantas customer care staff then deny responsibility for the charge. Further complaints are referred to the 'Airline Customer Advocate'. This is an organisation that claims to be independent and is listed on various Australian government fair trading websites. However, it is funded by the airlines. They give the same answer.

Meanwhile American Airlines does not respond to any further complaints about the matter.

The fee, charged by an American company, in US dollars, inside the US, is not covered by Australian law. That is, despite Qantas' initial reassurance that no extra charges would be applied, Australian law allows them to pass the buck to their codeshare partner.

join discussion