Blanket claims by low cost carrier Jetstar  that “some fares were not refundable, and that consumers could only get a refund if they purchased a more expensive fare” may cost the airline $1.95 million.

“No matter how cheap the fares are, airlines cannot make blanket statements to consumers that flights are non-refundable,” said Rod Sims, Chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

In a media release, the ACCC said:

“Jetstar has also admitted that its terms and conditions contained representations that consumer guarantees under the Australian Consumer Law did not apply to its flight services, and that Jetstar’s liability in providing remedies to consumers was limited.

“The ACCC and Jetstar have jointly submitted to the Federal Court that Jetstar should be ordered to pay a $1.95 million penalty, and to make a contribution to the ACCC’s costs.

“The Federal Court will now decide whether the proposed penalties and other orders sought are appropriate.

Consumer rights cannot be excluded, restricted or modified

“Services such as flights come with automatic consumer guarantees, and these rights cannot be excluded, restricted or modified.

“If a flight is cancelled or significantly delayed, passengers may be entitled to a refund under the consumer guarantees, which give consumers a right to a remedy if services are not supplied within a reasonable time.

“It’s frustrating for travellers when they have difficulty getting a refund for flights when they are entitled to one.

” ‘This case is important not only for holding Jetstar to account, but sending a wider message that businesses cannot exclude or limit consumers’ rights under the Australian Consumer Law,’ ” Mr Sims said.

New guide for consumers

The ACCC has published new guidance to help consumers understand their rights in relation to flight delays and cancellations, which can be found here: Flights delays & cancellations

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