The Airline Customer Advocate was established in 2012 to facilitate the resolution of complaints from the customers of the five participating airlines – Jetstar, Qantas, Regional Express, Tigerair Australia and Virgin Australia – about the services provided by the airline.
In its Annual Report for 2016, the Advocate reports that Australian airline customers complained less than in 2015 – with 1,055 eligible complaints in 2016 representing a decrease of 12.2% from the previous year (1,204) with refund requests, flight delays and cancellations and fees and charges still representing the biggest areas for customer dissatisfaction.
Requests for refunds were the most common issue, making up 31 per cent of complaints, followed by delays or cancellations (25 per cent), baggage services (11 per cent), fees or charges (9 per cent), and airport customer service (6 per cent).
So which airline scored the highest number of complaints in 2016?
Tigerair did improve on its 2015 numbers (down from 37.7 complaints per million passengers in 2015) but, once again, received the highest rate of complaints in 2016 – 31.9 complaints for every million passengers over refunds, delays and cancellations, baggage services, fees and charges, and airport customer services.
Virgin Australia passengers complained more than Jetstar passengers – a rise attributable to disputes over refunds, up from 3.6 per million passengers in 2015 to 5.8 per million in 2016. Qantas had the lowest rate of complaints, falling from 8.4 to 7.2 per million passengers.
Individual airlines top 5 complaints were:
- Flight delay or cancellation – Regional Express
- Refund request – Qantas
- Refund request – Tigerair
- Refund Request – Virgin Australia
- Flight delay or cancellation – Jetstar
Australians also took more flights domestically and internationally overall in 2016 as total passenger numbers across all the participating airlines increased to 73,174,402 (up over 3%) from 70,345,808 in 2015.