What To Do If You’ve Been Disrupted By The Qantas Grounding

What To Do If You’ve Been Disrupted By The Qantas Grounding

In a drastic measure to counter long-running industrial action, Qantas today grounded itself, cancelling all domestic and international flights from 5pm until further notice. What can you do if you’re due to fly today or in the next week?

The disruption affects Qantas-branded flights, but not Jetstar, Qantaslink or Jetconnect. Qantas’ site says that it will work with affected passengers to find accommodation and help with meal expenses. Customers who have flown to a destination and were due to return will be offered hotel rooms; those whose journeys start today need to try their own luck, but can hit up Qantas for refunds subsequently. In that scenario, expenses are capped at $350 a day, including meals. Passengers in a hotel provided by Qantas get $100 a day for meals, but again will have to pay upfront and claim afterwards.

If you haven’t taken your flight yet, Qantas also says it will offer a full refund. However, given that its call centre will be swamped with irate customers, it is asking customers not to ring until 24 hours before their flight.

MORE:Qantas Refund Grounding FAQ

Obviously, if you’ve got an imminent flight, you might well hit the web and seek an alternative carrier. That makes sense, but note that Qantas hasn’t yet said it will reimburse those costs. You’ll also be paying last-minute prices, even assuming you can find a seat.

This cancellation has impacted me personally — I was due to fly from Melbourne to Sydney on Sunday afternoon, something it seems safe to assume won’t happen now. Under the circumstances, I consider myself lucky that I have friends I can stay with in Melbourne and that I managed to get a seat on the train back to Sydney for Monday. That’s a super-slow option, but one that won’t have been swamped quite as fast as flights on rival carriers. And at least I’m in locations connected by train, which isn’t the case for many stranded travellers.

Been impacted by this drastic measure? Tell us your story in the comments. We’ll update this post as new information comes to hand.

Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images: Flight screens at the Sydney Qantas Domestical Terminal on October 30, 2011.


    • Read Dick Smith’s version of events:

      He is saying that the CEO is trying to save the company. Qantas will mean nothing if it goes out of business. Pan Am did, Ansett did.

      CEO was an idiot for accepting a wage rise at the same time, but probably doing the right thing – have the unions make Qantas bleed for months of disputes, or force a resolution, one way or another, now!

    • Well said Lamby, as for Sylviane SHOUTED comments, it sounds like it’s time for both you and the unions to have a wakeup call, Qantas staff is treated above average in Australia yet they keep demanding more and more of which is totally unrealistic… I suggest you do a little more reading into this… We all would love for jobs to stay hear but at the current rates in the long term it’s not viable and with the demands they are making it’s as good as bankrupt, then there will not even be a single job around!

      • Totally agree, and with the dick smith article. If there wasn’t any cheap competition, Qantas wouldn’t take this step, also the Unions have too much power nowadays (thanks to those who voted for Labor and the death of Work Choice) they’re being unrealistic with Qantas.

  • Qantas has announced that refunds will be given for flights for customers who choose to cancel due to this grounding. In short, if you planned to fly Qantas in the next week, make alternative plans. Hit up Qantas for a refund later.

    “Customers booked on Qantas flights should not go to the airport until further notice. A full refund will be available to any customer who chooses to cancel their flight because it has been directly affected by the grounding of the fleet. Full rebooking flexibility will be available to customers who wish to defer their travel.”


  • Quick! Everyone book a flight with an airline that’s not Qantas -> no passengers= no flights anyway= no jobs (Well you’re not gonna fly with Qantas anyway either way)

  • As a Qantas shareholder and customer, I’m deeply, deeply unhappy with the behavior of Qantas. The way in which the unions have proceeded with their action has created a degree of inconvenience – but I see no evidence of them stooping to the level of bastardry that Qantas appears to be employing.

    Unprofessional, unacceptable and destructive of shareholder value too.

    • That’s very true, I’m sure there is many Qantas staff members that do not support the idiotic unions demands and should not have to put up with abusive customers due to the unions they are not part of, if on the other hand they are part of the union AND support what has been going on I say go for it and don’t hold back, hopefully you can talk some sense into them and make them see reality which might just save their job in the long run!

        • Jeremy, this is what I don’t get, staff is employees, they are employed to do a job for which they get paid for, the company is the entity that takes the risks, provides the money and makes the hard decisions. What profit a company makes does not entitle staff members to receive more pay, Qantas staff is already paid above average wages as it is. In regards to Qantas profits they seem large but from what I know they run on around 5% margin so any small disruption can cause profits to sink quickly so reserves are needed as with any business.

          If staff or any one for that matter wants to benefit from how a company like Qantas is run they are more than welcome to purchase shares in the company! This way if the company is doing well so will their shares and dividends, if the company goes through hard times the payouts/shares might not offer as good returns but is fair. How people think they are entitled to company money because they work there is beyond me, start your own company if you want those rewards but then I think you would not be willing to take the risks and make the hard decisions and put the amount of time the CEO’s/mangers do but you will still want the rewards right? Also the vast majority allot of company profits stay in the company to build it up and improve things it’s not like all managers/CEO’s get to take that money home with them!

  • Really? Lets introduce more structural barriers to competitive behaviour because the airline industry is so profitable and efficient as it is.

    In any market place where 3 of the largest providers decide to act together to push price up, this would be considered anti-competitive behaviour and cartel action however when it comes to unions this is some how ok. I think people are just getting carried with all this protesting lately.

    Lets run Qantas like a government corporation and see how much we all love it then.

    On a side note I’m currently away for work and chose not to fly with Qantas because of all the strikes. I hope Qantas fails and we can all see what unions are doing to Australia

    • Well said except the last part of wanting Qantas to fail, I on the other hand hope the unions and any Qantas staff that support them wake up and realise there unrealistic demands and come back down to reality rather than all staff having to lose their jobs after all not all Qantas staff agree with the unions and I feel sorry for them, the others I hope they wake up and if not I do NOT feel sorry if they lose their jobs and they get taken offshore for half the price and I bet they will offer service with a smile and do a better job any way!

  • This is a lose-lose situation for Qantas (and Australia)basically brought about by unreasonalbe demands by these union hoons. Everyone suffers and these guys will lose their jobs to willing workers overseas or worse, Qantas will be broken up and sold off. Even though my plans have been severely disrupted, the Board did the only thing they could. They were being held to ransom and stood up to it! Good on you Qantas.

      • Fi, Caren is correct; Qantas is not just made up of airport staff. It’s an international market lots of services can be taken overseas and staff willing to work can be brought in if needed. The union’s demands are unrealistic and just plain crazy. Qantas pay their staff very well and can cut wages in some cases by more than half for the same service as it is yet they are asking for more, as a business man it’s logical they should have moved years ago but have stayed to keep local jobs, there is a point you have to make the right business decision and stop trying to do the right thing whilst constantly being abused for doing so. Sorry to say but workers who support the union move either don’t understand or simply deserve what they have coming (and I really do hope of the hard core union supporters loose their jobs as they are making it harder for happy and willing to work local staff members)

  • BTW- does anyone know HOW to get the refund? I am afraid to buy more tickets on another airline without the assurance I will get a full refund. The website is not clear.

  • Well like everyone else out there we are so upset . We had organised a dream trip for our father who has treatment three times a week and it took along time to organise between doctors here in Perth and in Queensland the hospital there only has room for him for the first week of Nov So all our hard work in getting this to happen is gone down the drain I CAN’T BELIEVE IT! so no holiday for him.

    • Hi Alex, that’s a great website link, thanks very much… I really do hope some of the local workers wake up and leave the unions, as instead of helping to protect and secure jobs of their members as they should be doing they have done nothing but forcing Qantas to move jobs overseas (and why would they not with unions making such ludicrous demands).

      On a side note it’s always baffled me how these big union leaders (of which most have never run any successful businesses) seem to tell large corporations how they should conduct their business.

  • All I can say is I feel bad for the customers that have paid for a trip and have had their flight cancelled.

    But I have to vent, Work Union’s aren’t working toward keeping Australian’s employed. If they constantly strike, and demand more pay (for the same amount of work being done), more days off, and more costly benefits, why would any company keep Australian workers?

    My brother-in-law was all pro-union, he worked at Boral and was on their union. They were going to strike and demand blah blah blah crap, so what did Boral do, they just laughed in their face, shut the factory and outsourced it overseas. They said that in the current economic climate they were doing everyone (300+ employees) a favour by keeping the factory open as they knew a majority of workers had families and the like, until the threat of a strike came to the surface.

      • Hi again Jeremy, first off they are not asking for wage increases in line with cost of living it’s allot more than that… I would suggest you have a look into the other side of the argument as it looks like you might have just heard the Unions side (which is not your fault as this is what the media as reported on most)… hear is some details you might be interested in from the other side: http://www.keepqantasflying.com.au/setting-the-record-straight/

        Qantas staff are paid above average, the company does not get some of the kickback other airlines do in Australia due to our wonderful governments short sightedness, I would also blame the current government for the changes they made when coming into power as it’s also cause these strikes (or made them legal which some would not have been before as it’s got nothing to do with the staff or unions but they are simply disrupting the company and passengers)

        P.S. if any staff member wants to benefit from company profits take up Qantas shares it’s that simply, Qantas as any company does not and should not have to base the staff wants on profits, as it is Qantas staff already are getting paid VERY well and in some cases more than any country for the amount of hours they put in (check into this you will be surprised!) If you compare wages also don’t forget to compare the amount of hours as a very small number of countries that do pay more the amount of hours the staff are required is in some cases 60% more hours yet the pay is not even 10-15% more so make sure you do your research properly!

  • Although I booked ticket for end of year travelling in Dec, and the situation will probably be sorted out, due to the recent circumstances with Qantas, I would like to know whether I can get my ticket cancelled and refunded as I really want to change a carrier now.

  • A most unbiased view of the situation from Qantas with perhaps one of the worst CEO’s I’ve seen in my lifetime. I don’t think so. As with most things, apart from the current personalities, this is all rooted in history and short term decision making for political/financial gain. This recent Age article provides another view:


    And to all those union bashers, in spite of union ‘problems’ most of us wouldn’t have what we have today but for the union movement – another historical reality. We still need unionism.

      • Well said Jeff, I’ve also become a bit of a union hater in recent years even though I use to be part of one, I’ve seen the destruction they cause and unrealistic demands. I don’t run a company yet but I plan to start one in the future (perhaps 5years or so time once I have enough capital) but your point is very valid!

  • Unions had there place in the past. What they achieved for workers in australia should be commended. But today isn’t the 1900’s. Australian unions need to wake up and realise that there workers are now in a competitive international market were your workers job are easily supplemented by an international workforce. Stfu and stop strangling Australian business.

    • If you actually read this man’s article he doesn’t think the unions are the problem:


      And this is from:

      “Tony Webber was Qantas Group general manager microeconomics and then chief economist between 2004 and April 2011. He is now managing director of Webber Quantitative Consulting, and contributed this article to BusinessDay.”

      Written by a Qantas insider and not exactly a rabid unionist. Nor has he condensed the argument down to a ‘one-sided’ comment. If you want your life style supported by exploiting the labours of others good luck to you. Most of us I suspect want a fairer, more balanced approach.

  • This is a highly complex situation. Condensing it down to one-sided comments (both pro- and con-) ignore this complexity.

    Unfortunately, it’s also a highly emotive situation and such one-sided comments are inevitable.

    Unions have a place in our society. But I suspect that, in some cases, union leaders are fighting the wrong battles.

    Corporations, also, can lose sight of the fact that there’s more to being a good corporate citizen than dividends to shareholders.

    But here’s a simple litmus test – if you’re going to fly overseas, and you’re paying for the flight out of your own pocket, which airline do you fly?

    For regular flyers I’m sure there’s less tangible benefits (frequent flyer, airport lounges, upgrades, etc) but for infrequent flyers price is going to be a big consideration.

    Having just priced some overseas flights I know that Qantas is significantly more expensive.

  • Weel done Allan Joyce! lock the unions out – they are holding the Aust public and the Qantas air travellers to ransom as they do each Xmas or Easter time!!!! They are amongst the highest paid airline workers in the world and thats still not enough!!!!! fair dinkum what world are these unions living in. I am a regular Qantas customer and I would have been upset if my flight was cancelled BUT the CEO had NO OTHER CHOICE

  • I was up in Brisbane when I found out, due to fly out in 24hrs to head back home to Sydney.

    I stayed on hold last night for five hours, using up all my credit.

    Booked another flight through Virgin as I have work Monday. Every single flight was $405.

    So I just have to hope that they will cover the gap, but not entirely sure.

    Waiting on hold again that I am home and using a landline. Up to thirty minutes already.

    Now the problem will be feeding myself over the next fortnight as this has left me short.


  • Wow. So instead of paying the wage increases the unions ask for, they’re paying for Jonathan to astroturf here?

    So blatantly obvious it’s almost hilarious!

    • Hi Chris why don’t you try and run a business and see how easy it is with idiots demanding (not requesting) unrealistic pay rises and perks when you are already paying your staff over double what you could be paying and see what you decide to do… Fact of the matter is Qantas is paying one of the highest rates in the world already and we are only a very small country hence pilots from around the world want to and would love to work for Qantas yet the Unions keep expecting more… If I ran Qantas I would have moved jobs offshore a long time ago, perhaps them greedy locals will realise to be happy with the very good paying jobs they have at the moment!

      • Doesn’t even bother trying to deny that he’s an astroturfer. I love it.

        Surely lifehacker has a comment policy about astroturfers? Or is “Jonathan” amusing enough that we all just laugh at him.

  • I am a business owner, and you are right on the dot Jonathan.

    I have had workers demand they get a raise every year, just because they have stayed with me another year, and they are just sales people.

    One of my staff was being paid well above the award wage ($20/hr after taxes and super), she could choose when she worked (could drop off and pick up the kids from school, have Tuesdays off to kids sport, finish Mondays at 3pm for kids footy, no weekend work for “family time”), came to me at the end of last year, “I want $23/hr, as I have been offered a job that will pay that”

    My response “See ya”, my business couldn’t warrant he being paid that. Guess what the grass wasn’t greener and she tried to come back, she gets paid $23 before tax (roughly $17/hr after), and works from 8:30-4:30 mandatory.

    All of the people saying awe poor workers are getting screwed, read into it that the average baggage handler grosses around $90k, and these are the mofo’s that throw your bags around and smash open your luggage, which sometimes doesn’t arrive where you are going. So if you are grossing more than that, then feel sorry for them.

    All I want to say is most Aussies don’t know how good they have it, they should be happy that they have a freaking job are making very good money for little effort (and risk of not owning a business).

    I really hope all of Qantas fires all the union employees just before Christmas, that will be an awesome Christmas present.

    • Ow yes I remember the old PATCO Union strike in August 1981 strike (US) the government basically said go back to work within 48 hours or lose your job! Most did not go back to work thinking the union would save them and lost their jobs. I asked my self why the unions are pushing so hard against Qantas when workers already have such great conditions but thinking back to this I see a pattern… Aaaaa the good old days, Julia it could be your time to shine (Yeah Right!)

  • Hi Peter, thanks for your story, I’ve been saving up to hopefully open my own Business in around 5 years time but the more I see and hear about Unions and the laws in our country the more is scares me away. I’m currently an employee and I believe I work hard to earn my pay which I think is the right thing to do. I do not expect to be paid more or less depending on company profits. I work for a private company so it’s not listed but if it was a larger company if I wanted to benefit from company profits I would purchase shares in the company (eg, Qantas) to benefit from profits.

    At the end of the day I understand I’m employed to do a task/role I’m not employed to run the company, invest my own money into the business or take risks with my money or worry about wages, costs..etc..etc.. To me it sounds like so many people now days think when they get a job they basically get shares in the company and are entitled to profits (if the company makes a profit) but if the company makes a loss they don’t want to take a pay cut so seems very one sided and pure greedy. I just don’t understand it myself!

    As I said I’ve been thinking of starting my own company some day but the more and more I think about it I think I’m too scared to deal with all the stupid laws our country has in place (I know some laws are in place to protect me but I feel as I’m a hard worker I don’t have anything to worry about as it would be the company’s loss if they got rid of me, and let’s be honest any good business man would not get rid of hard working staff that makes them money!)

    Very strange times indeed! I’m sorry all no matter which angle I look at it I just can’t sympathise with the wages Qantas staff make it’s really very good already and above their competitors already!

    • I’m on your side regarding unions and unfair worker requests. However bonuses are common practice in work places (especially for sales staff) and people who directly contribute to profit making should receive a fair share.

      Now I use to work 12-14hour days 6-7 days a week on a fixed yearly wage (flew out to melbourne on australia day once because there were no available flights on the next day), and didn’t receive any bonus. I’m not suggesting that baggage handlers (or equivalent) who as a stereotypical whole do not over stretch or push for the company or customer should receive anything additional to their contract but there is a time and place for bonuses.

  • I get people’s frustration in having to cancel their travel plans and thinking that certain elements of QANTAS staff who are unionised are greedy, but here’s something else to consider.

    My father works for another airline (not in Australia) after September 11, 2001, there were A LOT of job cuts, extended hours, promotions etc. were cancelled or deferred (well the people ended up doing the jobs just not getting paid the money). The company said, look it’s hard out there, we need to hold on and if you guys agree to this, we can keep everything going and you can all keep your jobs.

    So of course, everyone agreed, it was the right thing to do and really the only option at the time.

    Fast forward a few years, the company is profitable again, people are flying, CEOs are getting their pay packets and bonuses galore. However, the employees who worked the extra hours, did all of the overtime, etc. aren’t being compensated properly. A lot of people are still doing the job of two people and not getting paid nearly enough for it. People have gotten promotions without the pay to go with them or they’re doing the work but don’t have the title and benefits.

    So in a sense, maybe these employees do deserve to earn more because the company is doing better, for the sole reason that they took the hit when the company took the hit. How many companies do you know that are struggling and say no, we won’t fire anyone, we’ll just earn a bit LESS money or won’t have such a huge GROWTH in profits?

    Almost none! Yet they expect the employees to make sacrifices when the chips are down. Doesn’t work both ways! And often times it’s the salary employees (middle management) who is really getting screwed, but because there’s no supervisor union etc. it often takes a worker’s union to get everyone inline.

    I’m not saying the above is exactly what is happening with QANTAS but I think a lot of people are assuming a lot of things and not taking other information into account.

    Also, everyone keeps mentioning that QANTAS staff are some of the most highly paid, compared to what though? If you say a luggage handler gets 90k a year vs one in mexico who makes 50k, are you considering the differences in cost of living and industry standards in the different countries? Because the fares we pay in Australia aren’t exactly bargain compared to what other places in the world pay to go the same distances.

    At the end of the day, the world is changing with globalisation, etc. but there’s things we need to fight for and keep in Australia. And there will be things that will never be able to be sent overseas anyways.

  • Nice to see QANTAS is keeping at least one communication staff member busy on the interwebs, hey Jonathan ? Any slicker and you’d be selling timeshare. Who said subtlety was dead ?

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