ACA Not Toothless When It Comes To Airline Complaints

Ok, I confess – with a full understanding that most ThreadTripping readers are American, that headline is just a teensy bit misleading. This post has nothing to do with ObamaCare. It’s about a different ACA entirely.

But I think you will find the story of this ACA very interesting, and so I plead your forgiveness and ask you to withhold judgement until you have read the entire post.

Did you know that in Australia there is an “Airline Customer Advocate” (ACA)? She is named Julia Lines and, according to this press release from Australian politician Anthony Albanese, she works with a commission of Australian airline representatives to provide airline customers “a real alternative when they are unable to resolve a complaint directly with an airline.”

The position was created in 2012 and by most accounts wasn’t expected to have any teeth. In fact, even according to Mr. Albanese’s release announcing Lines’ appointment, it sounded like it would have more bark than bite.

The establishment of the Airline Customer Advocate implements another key recommendation of the Government’s Aviation White Paper. …

 

I want to thank Australia’s major airlines for working together to turn this recommendation into reality. Qantas, Virgin Australia, Jetstar Airways, Regional Express and Tiger Airways Australia will jointly fund the position.

(emphasis added)

Based on at least one data point though, namely GaryBne of the Australian Frequent Flyer forums, Lines is more effective in the role than many expected she might be able to be.

I had an issue with QF discussed in another post – Basically there seemed to be a fault /insanity in the booking system. …

 

Within QF I got the run around … some gave me a specious argument … and some were just puzzled, passed it to supervisors and trainers but no results. …

 

I gave up and sent it all to ACA. …

 

It took a week or two to solve the problem – but they did. Not just for me but everyone trying to make a joint Classic/ cash International booking. …

 

the Advocate herself called me to check if it was all closed off. … All I can say is that she seems the right person for the job… Practical, and not too bureaucratic / legalistic.

Again, that is just one data point, but nevertheless, writing as an American traveler its certainly a remarkable data point. Seriously, fellow American flyers, could you imagine submitting an airline complaint to a “customer advocate” who is paid by the airlines and not only having the complaint resolved to your satisfaction within two weeks, but also receiving a call from the advocate to chat about the result?

Stunning – in a great way.

According the 2013 Annual Report published by the ACA, Lines, working with the commission, has resolved nearly 70% of incoming complaints – with a total of 983 eligible complaints submitted.

In researching this I happened across an article on Traveller.com.au in which Lines discusses her role and expectations:

People might say it is just a clearing house. They might say I’m a paper tiger – and they’re entitled to their opinions – but the system’s obviously working.

It all sounds very impressive, Lines especially.

If you are an Australian reader, have you had experience with the ACA or Ms. Lines? And if you are a non-Australian reader, does anything similar exist in your country that you know of?

Read the thread with GaryBne’s full description of his “case”: Score 1 for the ACA

toothless roar” by Kai Schreiber. CC BY-SA 2.0.

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