VIEWPOINT: Qantas stiffs man’s widow on points

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MRO AUSReports out of Australia show that Australian flag carrier Qantas really doesn’t care about its customers. An Australian widow, who lost her husband and youngest in the span of one year, had all her ‘loyalty’ points cancelled by Qantas and so far will not make an exception to reinstate them.

According to a report on ABC in Australia, the widow, Julie Jenner, had planned to use the points to bring her grandchildren to visit her in Queensland. However, when she attempted to access the points, she was told they had been cancelled. Although the membership was in her husband Thomas’s name, the couple shared a bank account and earned the points together through their regular spending. Speaking to ABC News, the widow estimated there were around 2,000 to 3,000 points in the account at the time of her husband’s passing, and she believes the entire amount should have been transferred to her.

As stated on the Qantas website, any earned points of a Frequent Flyer member will be cancelled in the event of that person’s death, instead of being transferred to the next of kin. According to the ABC report, Jenner’s solicitor advised her to pursue the matter legally, but she is tired of fighting. “I’ve had about seven months of it and I just want what’s fair and square,” she said.

The Qantas loyalty programme has a hardline stance, with the airline confirming in a statement that all Frequent Flyer Points earned but not yet redeemed or transferred prior to the death of a member will be cancelled with effect from the date of death. “Qantas Frequent Flyer memberships are individual. If a couple holds a joint points-earning credit card, the Qantas Points will be credited to the account of the primary card holder,” the statement read.

Jenner described the situation as yet another setback in a difficult year. “People need to be aware that if they think their points are going to go across to their husband or their wife or their lifelong partners, they’ve got another thing coming. They need to really have a good look at how it’s written and think twice about entering into that agreement,” she said.

Now I understand capitalism pretty well, having covered business for more than 40 years, but I also understand that situations like these are a prime example of a situation in which an exception to the rule can and should be made.

Qantas is simply rubbing salt in the deep wounds of a widow who has lost her husband and son. Claiming it is “corporate policy” is the cowardly way out. Qantas CEO Alan Joyce should step in with a personal apology and restore the points. To not do so shows that Qantas and its management have no corporate heart and the airline doesn’t deserve to be known as the “national carrier” of Australia.

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Matthew Driskill is the Editor of Asian Aviation and is based in Cambodia. He has been an Asia-based journalist and content producer since 1990 for outlets including Reuters and the International Herald Tribune/New York Times and is a former president of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Hong Kong. He frequently appears on international broadcast outlets like CNN, Al Jazeera and the BBC and has taught journalism at Hong Kong University and the American University of Paris. Driskill has received awards from the Associated Press for Investigative Reporting and Business Writing and in 1989 was named the John J. McCloy Fellow by the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University in New York where he earned his Master's Degree.


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