Qantas admits mistakes, rebuts claims of bogus ticket sales on ‘ghost flights’

Vidit Luthra /

Qantas has filed its defense with the Australian Federal Court in response to claims made by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) regarding the sale of tickets on ‘ghost flights’. 

In August 2023, the ACCC took court action against the Australian flag carrier for the airline’s alleged advertisement and sale of tickets for flights it had already canceled. 

In a statement, Qantas said that while “mistakes were made”, the ACCC’s legal case “ignores the realities of the aviation industry”, saying that airlines cannot guarantee specific flight times.

The airline said that the ACCC ignored a “fundamental reality and a key condition” that applies when airlines sell tickets, because no airline can guarantee flights will operate at their scheduled times.

Qantas claimed that even ACCC’s own website has a page dedicated to travel delays and cancellations, where it states that: “Airline conditions of carriage do not include a guarantee of flight times. Consumers should not assume that a plane will meet its exact advertised schedule.”

The airline rejected the notion of selling ‘ghost’ or canceled flights, saying that all customers who bought tickets for the canceled flights were offered an alternative flight or refund, and that there was no “fee for no service”.

“The ACCC’s case relates to canceled flights that were left on sale for longer than 48 hours. We acknowledge there were delays and we sincerely regret that this occurred, but crucially, it does not equate to Qantas obtaining a ‘fee for no service’ because customers were re-accommodated on other flights as close as possible to their original time or offered a full refund,” Qantas stated.

The airline said that to prevent such things from happening in the future, canceled flights are removed from sale immediately, well inside the 48-hour window flagged by the ACCC.

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