Yesterday my flight with Virgin Australia, VA1 Sydney to Los Angeles, was delayed by five hours. Pretty boring because I’d stayed up until 2am finishing off work the night before and had been due to arrive in New York by 5.30pm but this became 10pm – my only Friday night in New York on the trip was gone.
What was interesting was that when I called Virgin to check the details (not wanting to miss an intercontinental flight on the strength of an email) I was told there was fog in LA and everyone was late and being diverted to other airports. This turned out not to be true as Sydney airport’s website showed other flights from Qantas and United leaving on time. When challenged Virgin confirmed that the problem was actually engineering and on the flight we were told it was because someone had mistakenly deployed the oxygen masks and these take 5 hours to stow away again. I don’t know why their call centre was giving out false “beyond our control” reasons.
Anyway, the flight was fine and the Virgin staff on the plane were exceptionally helpful. But this reminded me of the huge difference between EU and AU compenstion.
What compensation was I given by Virgin Australia for a 5 hour delay? $16 for meals at the airport.
What compensation would I have been entitled to if this flight was originating in the EU or on an EU registered airline? $870
Maybe it’s time Australian residents had the same protection as EU residents? Qantas details these increased levels of EU compensation on its website but they only apply if you’re leaving an EU airport with Qantas. They always apply if you’re flying British Airways, for example, as it is EU registered.