Qantas’ hotel booking system left a family of four in a room that “smelt like a public toilet” and days later left them stranded in a foreign city, scrambling for somewhere to stay.
Will Aldous booked his family’s flights and accommodation with the airline for their three-week trip to the US in September and has now revealed how Qantas dropped the ball at every turn.
They arrived and quickly learnt one of his daughter’s bags never got on the flight, and things only got worse when they stepped foot in the accommodation they booked for their first night.
“The place that we stayed at in Santa Monica was very bad,” Mr Aldous said of the almost $1000 per night room, which he paid for using points.
“It had sewer pipes from the room above that were unwrapped and just going through our room, so when someone flushed the toilet upstairs, you could hear them having a crap basically. It was revolting.
“The place stank like a public toilet. It was awful. And there was no carpet on the floor, it was only 50 per cent clean, it was really bad. We couldn’t get out of there fast enough.”
Mr Aldous emailed Qantas saying how disappointed he was by the experience and was told the company would contact the “external provider” but ultimately there was nothing they could do about it.
About a week later they arrived at the second accommodation they booked through Qantas, in San Diego, which Mr Aldous likened more to an Airbnb than a hotel.
“It wasn’t portrayed like that on the website at all. It wasn’t serviced, there was no reception, and basically it was a prearranged booking with a pin code to get through the door,” he explained.
The family, who arrived late in the afternoon with a hire car full of their baggage, had no idea how to get into their room, so Mr Aldous called Qantas in Australia.
He was passed on to the US booking company, which instructed him to call Qantas back for their booking number – spending at least 20 minutes on the phone each time.
When he called back the local company, he was told: “No, Qantas hasn’t booked your accommodation”.
“To cut a long story short, we were basically on our own then,” Mr Aldous said, having been unable to book anything on such short notice at the place they were meant to be staying.
Throughout the frustrating ordeal, Qantas “didn’t give a crap and no one said sorry,” the peeved dad said.
The family were fortunate they managed to find alternate accommodation and they pressed forward by making the best of the situation.
“You assume that Qantas Hotels is going to be the same quality as their airline service but there appears to be no vetting done by Qantas on the accommodation and some of it is extremely sub par,” Mr Aldous said.
Meanwhile, his daughter was without the belongings she packed for the trip and had been having to share underwear with her mum while the parents forked out on new clothing throughout the holiday.
Despite several emails back and forth with Qantas about the lost bag, it was never delivered to the family during their trip and they gave up on seeing it again.
“We kept shopping all the way through the trip and the bag never arrived,” the dad said.
“We got home and pretty much lost interest in it and just accepted what we spent over there.”
Qantas eventually instructed him to fill out a claim form to be compensated for replacing the bag and its contents, seemingly putting an end to the drama.
Mr Aldous confirmed he had since been reimbursed for the expenses incurred.
About five weeks after they got home, they were emailed saying the bag had been found and someone would deliver it to them.
After the bag was delivered, Hallmark Central Baggage Services, the company responsible for Qantas’ baggage, agreed to compensate the family for the new clothing they had to buy.
At no point in the entire process however, concerning the hotels or baggage, did Qantas offer an apology.
“It was a fairly significant hassle throughout the entire time of our holiday, and for no one to write you a letter or say sorry is pretty average,” Mr Aldous said.
He argued Qantas had recently gone downhill in the value it provided to Australians, insisting the current standard was “got good enough”, particularly considering it was the national carrier.
“I would like to see them regain some empathy for the people that travel,” he said.
“They have just lost respect for the Australian population and they’re seeking to maximise returns for shareholders at the cost of the Australian public.”
After being contacted for comment by news.com.au, Qantas Hotels removed the Santa Monica hotel from its website, refunded Mr Aldous for both Qantas Hotels bookings and gave him a $250 Qantas Hotels voucher.
A spokesperson for the company said it was working with Expedia, which facilitates bookings for Qantas Hotels, to “understand what happened”.
It was only after being contacted by news.com.au for comment that Qantas offered Mr Aldous an apology.
“We have contacted Mr Aldous to apologise for the situation and are working with Expedia to understand what happened,” they told news.com.au.
“Booking issues with Qantas Hotels are extremely rare but we’re working on a new escalation process to resolve them faster when they arise.”
Melbourne local Aaron Smith recently arrived at a hotel in India that he booked through Qantas Hotels to be told there was no record of his booking.
There was also a discrepancy in the rate he paid online via the Qantas website and the hotel itself, which after extensive back and forth with the airline, he was reimbursed for.
The company ended up giving him a refund for his entire 12-night stay and giving him a $250 Qantas Hotels voucher.