Qantas is giving away free flights to all its passengers affected by last weekend’s snap cancellation of all flights.
The offer is valid for an economy-class return ticket to any Qantas destination in Australia or New Zealand. Travellers will also recieve Qantas Frequent Flyer points for the economy flights at the standard earning rate.
It's available to all passengers booked on Qantas flights between 5pm Saturday October 5, and midnight Monday October 7. Bookings can be made from November 31 for travel from December 14.
There are, however, a few caveats.
Codeshares with Jetstar are not permitted: the flights need to be on Qantas metal – and they can be only a single sector, not a multi-leg flight.
Tickets must be booked at least 14 days before the date of departure but no more than 90 days before travel commences. However, the offer is open for two years so you can claim a flight as far ahead as December 2013.
Finally and most controversially, the offer is available only to customers whose "Qantas ticket was purchased in Australia", which excludes Qantas' many overseas passengers.
Responding to enquiries from Australian Business Traveller, a Qantas spokeswoman said that "announcements will be made shortly in relation to overseas-based customers", and stressed that "the free ticket offer is the first phase of a package of measures to apologise to disrupted customers."
A $20 million give-away
This will be an expensive exercise for the Red Roo. A Qantas spokeswoman estimated that 100,000 passengers caught up in the unprecedented 48-hour grounding of the entire Qantas fleet would qualify for tickets, with the free flight give-away costing up to $20 million.
Qantas announced the offer in advertisements appearing in newspapers today and will also be emailing all eligible passengers this week. Full details are listed at Qantas' "Fly with us, on us" web page.
The 'free flight' deal is in addition to any refunds and reimbursements already on offer.
This includes a full refund on the cost of the original ticket for all stranded passengers, and €600 (A$788) of compensation for passengers stranded in Europe, as required under European ‘air passenger rights’ law.
Qantas has already said it will reimburse stranded travellers up to $350 per person per day.
However, The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission since declared that Qantas should cover “additional expenses” incurred as a result of the grounding – a position with which Qantas has agreed, pledging that passengers "will be compensated for all reasonable losses as a direct result of the disruption caused by the fleet grounding" [see our story here].
And there's more to come, says Qantas CEO Alan Joyce. “This ticket offer is one of a range of initiatives we will be launching as a way of saying sorry as we move forward into this period of stability."