Travelers slam online travel agents as flight credits remain elusive

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More than two years after the pandemic put an end to the first trips around the world, some Australians are still struggling to claim the flight credits they were promised.

Sydneysider Pete Sommers booked around $6,000 worth of tickets to London in 2019 using flight website BYOjet, which is owned by Flight Center Travel Group.

When flights were blocked at the start of the pandemic, he was happy to accept flight credits, but only recently realized how difficult it was to redeem them.

‘When we try to reach them, they don’t pick up and answer the phone,’ Mr Sommers said. UKTN.

“I have received a few emails, but this is a delaying tactic.”

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He said after a week of going back and forth, the website allowed him to book the one-way ticket, but not the return flight.

Three of over 1100 one-star reviews for BYOjet. Photo: Supplied

BYOjet touts “great prices with no booking fees” on its website, but several disgruntled customers say they’ve been charged exorbitant fees to rebook their flights during the pandemic.

More than 1,100 one-star reviews have been filed online, with customers accusing the company of not responding and one customer even claiming the site “stole” his money.

A similar number of positive reviews have also been received, but there’s almost no middle ground in terms of feedback.

A spokesperson for BYOjet’s parent company apologized for the inconvenience.

“As far as BYOjet is concerned, it’s a low-cost website,” the spokesperson said. DT.

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“It doesn’t have a human network to the same extent as a brand like Flight Center, and as a result it sometimes took longer to respond and resolve customer issues.

“Even Flight Centre, which has around 300 stores across Australia, has had customers queuing outside stores in recent weeks.”

Consumer group CHOICE has previously criticized Flight Center and subsidiary brands such as BYOjet for making customers wait months to redeem their travel credit.

In some cases, customers had to pay additional fees above what the airline would have charged to rebook.

The Flight Center spokesperson told DT that approximately 70% of the travel credits have already been used. The spokesperson also said most of the hiccups happened more than two years ago, at the start of the pandemic.

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Flight Center has come under fire during the pandemic for its flight credit policies.
Flight Center has come under fire during the pandemic for its flight credit policies. Photo: AAP

It’s not just travel agents that cause headaches for passengers.

In February, aviation analysts accused some airlines of playing ‘a cruel cancellation game’ while CHOICE found that a fifth of Australians had been unable to redeem their flight credits issued by airlines against the pandemic.

Mr Sommers himself said he had been unlucky when he tried to escalate the matter to Virgin Australia, instead of being referred to BYOjet, which was not returning calls.

He added: “It just goes back to the same ‘maintenance’ tune, and it goes on for hours.”

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