This week I booked a domestic flight on JetStar. My scheduled flight time was 8.35am. Thirty minutes before that is 8.05am.

I arrived at JetStar (Tullamarine) at 8.03am, failed to get the automatic machine to work and then showed my electronic ticket to the JetStar assistant who said that I had to get in the queue.

There were about 20 people ahead of me in the queue and by the time I got to the counter it was a couple of minutes after 8.05. I was told that my ticket had been forfeited, sold to someone else and that there was no room on the flight, that is, the flight was closed.

As I had forfeited my ticket I received no refund and JetStar were able to charge twice for the same seat.

I protested. I was told that this was my fault because I had not checked-in (presumably, completed the computerized check-in process) before 8.05am. I was told to read the Conditions. Well, I have now read them.

Condition 8.1 states: “For flights departing from a domestic terminal, check in will close 30 minutes before scheduled departure and for flights departing from an international terminal, 60 minutes before scheduled departure. You will not be able to check-in after these Check-In Deadlines. Arrival after these Check-In Deadlines may result in you forfeiting the entire fare paid.” Condition 8.3 states: “If you arrive late at check-in or the boarding gate (see 8.1), you will forfeit your Booking and no refund will be paid”.

Both these conditions require the customer not to “arrive” late. Arrive where? We are not told. I infer that, at least, it is an arrival if you are in the queue. Well, I had arrived before the deadline. I was in the queue when the deadline ticked over. They had no right to forfeit my ticket until they had ascertained that I was not in the queue. This could have been done by an announcement or a query of the people in the queue.

JetStar have their computer set to close the flight at the deadline time. In my case, the computer did that and then allocated the tickets to standby passengers so by the time I had reached the desk there were no tickets left.

In fact (and law) they were wrong. I had “arrived” and was entitled to be checked-in.

My view is that it is sufficient to arrive in the vicinity of the check in counter and that JetStar, before it forfeits the tickets, must make an announcement calling for the persons who have not checked in.

JetStar’s treatment of me was disgraceful. No doubt they do this as a matter of practice to many other customers. They lied to me about their own Conditions, they illegally forfeited my ticket and they stole my money.

The moral of the story is: never fly JetStar.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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