Tiger ordered to pay family’s costs after cancelled flight
TIGER Airways has been ordered to pay a family's costs - including lost leave and looking after their pet - after cancelling their flight home from a tropical getaway.
The family jetted from Melbourne with the budget airline in July last year after Jo Wells bought tickets for himself, his wife, Liz, and their two children to fly to Cairns for a six day holiday to celebrate Liz's birthday.
The tickets were bought online almost five months before departure.
A day after the family departed, Tiger emailed Mr Wells to say their return flight had been cancelled and advising him to rebook, or, if no flight was available, to seek a refund, which would be processed within 30 days.
Mr Wells told the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal he was offered no assistance and no alternative flight and spent much of the rest of that day sorting out the mess.
When he tried to rebook with Tiger, Mr Wells said he was told the only available flights on the family's planned return date were significantly more expensive, at $4000 to $5000, and the first available flight with similar priced seats to their original tickets was four days later.
Jetstar had comparable fares available two days later than planned, so Mr Wells borrowed money from his family to buy these tickets and then went through the cost and inconvenience of finding two nights extra accommodation during school holidays, extending their kennel booking and arranging extra leave, additional parking and car hire.
By failing to provide the return flight or a timely alternative, Mr Wells claimed Tiger not only breached Australian Consumer Law but its own ticket conditions of sale, causing him to suffer losses in excess of the refund for the cancelled tickets.
When Mr Wells complained to Tiger, it suggested he may be able to make a claim on his travel insurance but would receive no compensation from the airline.
Tiger eventually offered to pay the family's expenses but refused to compensate them for two lost days of leave, so Mr Wells took his case to VCAT.
He sought $2584.71, plus the $62.70 VCAT fee, to cover $816 for his lost wages, $634 for his wife's lost wages, $463 for the extra cost of the Jetstar tickets, $303 for accommodation, $200 for food and drink, $86 extra car hire, $64 in kennel fees, $20 in carparking and a $9 company search.
Senior VCAT member Susan Burdon-Smith found the airline "did not comply with its own Tiger Air Conditions of Carriage, compensation policy or cancellation policy" which should have seen the family put on the next available flight at no extra cost.
And she dismissed Tiger's claim that its refund for the cancelled tickets met its legal obligations, saying consumer law did not allow a provider to escape liability for the consequences of breaching its obligations "merely by providing a refund."
"It is clear that the applicant did not seek to obtain advantage of the situation they were placed in. He found new accommodation at a modest rate. He has particularised their claim with precision," she said.
Ms Burdon-Smith found Tiger had not offered the family a remedy within a reasonable time and ordered it pay all the amounts sought, with the exception of Ms Well's lost leave, as she was not named as an applicant on the VCAT application.