Airlines have had an extremely difficult time during the coronavirus pandemic. They’re selling a fraction of the number of tickets they sold last year, have had to give refunds for canceled flights and have even stopped charging change fees. So they’re trying to recoup as much as they possibly can. Some of their efforts to save money are smart, like this one. However, sometimes you have to question if their way to get more money is fair.
Case in point…we had written a while back that, in its efforts to decrease the number of people with coronavirus in its country, Australia was going to decrease the cap of how many Australians could fly into the country per day. To maintain that cap, it meant flights into Australia had to have fewer people on them.
Welp, the Guardian recently reported that some airlines appear to be canceling purchased tickets of economy class customers headed home to Australia in an effort to sell more business and first class seats.
They spoke to an Australian family living in the U.K. that was trying to move back to Australia and they said it happened to them. Emirates told them that their flight had been canceled and they were placed on a new flight scheduled for 2 weeks later. From The Guardian:
After visiting the Emirates website to search for an earlier replacement flight, they saw they could still buy four tickets for their original flight, with the same departure date and time, but only in first class. The one-way tickets would cost them more that £15,000 (more than A$27,000).
“We were wondering why it was cancelled?” the family’s father asked during a call to Emirates support line. “Are you aware that you’re still selling tickets on your website for four adults?”
One operator responded: “Indeed, there are flights as you can see (on that date) … now the thing is … I only see business or first class available, I don’t see any economy. I’m trying to understand it.”
The father responded that “it feels a little unethical that we were taken off but that there’s still a bunch of tickets available for [the flight] today”.
“It’s looking like we were taken off to sell higher-price tickets.”
When they spoke to Emirates again, a representative told the family that the capacity for economy class in the aircraft was 19 and even with the four of them removed, economy class was still “overbooked” by two seats.
An article from abc.net.au reported a similar story in July, where a family living in Tasmania was trying to get back to Sydney but were told their flight had been canceled. As it turned, the flight was not canceled. Instead, the 50-person limit was reserved for business and first class.
Another party mentioned in the article reported the same thing happened to her – an Australian doctor living and working in the UK during the pandemic was trying to finally get back home. She had an economy class reservation to Sydney, but the airline called her and said they were prioritizing business class passengers.
Airlines, of course, are denying that they’re canceling previously-made economy class reservations to Australia and holding their slots only for more expensive business and first class seats.
Emirates told The Guardian that, “Despite the capacity restrictions, in most cases a large portion of our seats are allocated to economy class travelers with the remainder allocated to first and business class travelers.” They also said that the proportion “varies for each flight.”
Meanwhile, Australia’s Senator Simon Birmingham doesn’t appear to have much empathy.
“We need to be mindful that the cost of tickets is expensive for the very few flights that are available, and I know that puts people in tough, tough circumstances right now, but equally … the warning has been there for months now encouraging people to come home,” said Birmingham. “If you wanted to come back you should have already come back in most circumstances.”
Well, isn’t that special.
Feature Photo: Rae Slater/flickr
#stayhealthy #staysafe #washyourhands #wearamask
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary