It pays to make a complaint: my experience with Flight Centre

Yes - definitely tip 15-20% in restaurants or for any other “service” (e.g. hair cuts, spa treatment). 15% is standard, 10% for bad service and 20% for great service. You don’t need to tip in fast food restaurants or take away, and tip less in restaurants where you have to clear your dishes yourself.

After living in the US for a year I finally got used to it. It does feel weird though!


Disneyland is the original theme park in Anaheim CA and is boxed in by the city. Disney World in Orlando FL is bigger with room to keep growing, and is better than the original in every way excepting travel time and expense from Australia.


We’ve touched on something here :smile:. I agree, although I must admit that I enjoyed them both.

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Hi Tilly
I will most certainly keep notes of the good and not so good of wheelchair access and treatment in the USA. It is something that really gets my goat here in Australia. By this I mean, go to a Retail store and see how many Eftpos machines can be passed down to a person in a wheelchair to use? How many Retail stores have disabled change rooms that aren’t used as a storage room. When we go to a retail shop, they eagerly agree for her to take clothes home to try on and we will refund completely if they are not to your satisfaction. Restaurants/cafes cram the table & chairs in to fit as many patrons in as possible, but do they consider those in a wheelchair? No, other patrons have to get up out of their chair to allow us in or out. They should not have to do that. Entertainment stadiums, theatres, only have one place a person in a wheelchair can sit. They have their rights taken away from them automatically. If we want to get closer to the stage to see better, we can’t. If you or I want to catch a train we just go to the station and jump on whichever train we please. A person in a wheelchair can’t do that. They have to ring ahead of time to the station master to organise the platform to be put down so they can get on a train. I recently enquired about the Sydney airport shuttle bus and they advised it was not wheelchair friendly, the person would have to get on the bus themselves and stow their wheelchair in the appropriate baggage storage area! Really! Take a look at UWS Kingswood - not one of the classrooms that my daughter had tutorial classes in has automatic opening doors for a person in a wheelchair to enter, they have to use one hand to hold the heavy door open, and wheel themselves in with the other. My daughter use to have to ask someone to open the door for her to go to the bathroom. Really! This state (NSW) has to get so much better than we are. People in wheelchairs want to be as independent as possible, the government are forcing the issue also so they do not have as much welfare to pay, but the infrastructure for them to be independent is not set in place. Sorry, I’ve really gone off the holiday subject, but it just gets to me some days. Cheers.

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Thank Nerrel, and I can only imagine how difficult it is!

So great that you’re all getting a chance to go on holidays together though - you’ll have a wonderful time.

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What do you mean by FF? When you use acronyms, please spell them out first for the less with-it.

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@petermac I think that might be referring to Frequent Flyer.

Side note, we have a (slightly older) article on frequent flyer points up on the website (free content).

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Oh! I’ve never bothered with frequent flyer points.

I have been travelling (needing a wheelchair) for some years and can state that wheelchair access has never been a problem. Almost all airports have large lift access where there are stairs and, if necessary there are mechanical lifts to provide access to planes sitting outside the airbridges. The problems you most likely will face are delays when parts of an airport are being refurbished, when the staff forget about you (unfortunately Qantas is one of the worst for keeping you waiting) and when handovers between terminals are necessary - the USA is the worst here, you will be pushed so far, then handed over to a different person etc etc…failure to provide each ‘pusher’ with a tip will not be taken well! But, regardless almost all the staff involved have been cheerful and considerate. I wish you all a great holiday and absolutely no wheelchair problems!


• Flight Centre promises to ‘beat any airfare or you fly free. Lowest airfare guaranteed.’

• I approached the Flight Centre in regards to booking and organizing our holiday to Perth and Ningaloo reef because I have limited financial means and have travelled very little.

• We agreed and paid the cost of the whole trip upfront.

• Flight Centre issued us with E-tickets for the whole journey, including several flights and multiple accommodation bookings.

• However Flight Centre failed to book the flights and we were left stranded at two airports without any way to get to the next leg of our holiday.

• This had a roll-on affect with our booked tours and accommodation we had spent months planning. Wasted precious holiday time while stuck in airports trying to chase Flight Centre to re-organize and rebook our flights, tours and accommodation again.

• This ended up costing us 3x the amount we were quoted even through the error was by Flight Centre.

• Flight Centre did not keep their promise to beat any airfare.

• Flight Centre took money from my bank account without my permission.

• Subsequently Flight Centre has failed to apologize and has ignored any attempts at negotiation.

• Since I have contacted:
o The Department of Fair Trade who informed me of the implied financial threat by Flight Centre if I pursued this matter further.
o NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal to negotiate the matter, but Flight Centre has refused to discuss or negotiate.

• Online there are quite a number of others who have had unfair dealings with the Flight Centre.


That is a true shocker @kimsmith. It reads like you went the routes available and got stonewalled as well as received implied threats in response.

I am curious how you could have etickets but no booking though. Since you are not a regular traveler was it actually an eticket or just a receipt? An eticket will often have something like and always have a booking reference resembling .

If you are a Choice member are you aware of Choice help?

and if so, there is a form to start engagement. It seems worth a go.


Thank you for your supportive response. Yes Flight Centre gave us an E ticket.


Hi @kimsmith,

Are you a CHOICE Member? If so our CHOICE Help team can get in touch and assist with some advice.

Looking at the situation you’ve described you should be entitled to compensation. Purchasing through a travel agent is a funny one, because you’re purchasing a product (the plane tickets and accomodation), but you’re also paying for the service of using that travel agent. Part of the service you have paid for is their correct booking of flights and accommodation. It seems that this is a failure under the consumer guarantees.

This is from the ACCC’s guidance on consumer guarantees:

"Services must:

* be provided with acceptable care and skill or technical knowledge and taking all necessary steps to avoid loss and damage
* be fit for the purpose or give the results that you and the business had agreed to
* be delivered within a reasonable time when there is no agreed end date."

By not booking your flights, the service they provided you was not fit for purpose, nor was it provided with acceptable care and skill. As such you’d be entitled to compensation. The ACCC’s guidance says:

"Compensation includes the cost to you caused by a problem with products or services. This is usually financial costs, but can include other costs such as lost time or productivity.

It can be hard to put a dollar figure on compensation for damages and loss. Compensation should put you in the position you would have been in if the products or services had done what they are supposed to under consumer guarantees."

My best advice (from my dealings with flight centre) for future encounters with them, for example, going to the tribunal, is to calculate exact costs. How much extra did you have to pay? What was the extra cost associated with the mess up? Include little things even like costs for food at the airport while you sorted out the problem, taxis to and from. Then think if you need to add compensation for the emotional stress - though this is hard to calculate.

I hope you have some luck with this.

And just a quick reminder to all our CHOICE Members out there, if you have an issue you need assistance with you can get in touch with CHOICE Help.

Tilly - travel policy and campaigns advisor :slight_smile:


It was too hot, but gelato took the edge off. :slight_smile:

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@bronwastaken how good is real italian gelato?! :yum: :shaved_ice:

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I used Flight Centre recently and was not 100% happy with the work they did. Needless to say, I will not be using them again, but rather go with other companies that friends/acquaintances have utilised and received good service from.

It is extremely disappointing that a company as large as Flight Centre, stoops to the low of “implied financial threat” when they have made an error and I am sure their insurance would more than cover them for their employee’s mishaps, after all, humans are not perfect and mistakes do happen. It is how we handle those mistakes and make good that leaves a better lasting impression.

While our travel mistake wasn’t anywhere near as large as yours, it is how they did not handle their response adequately that has left more of a bitter taste in my mouth than the actual mistake.

I look forward to reading your return journey saga. I hope it was not too traumatic and costly. :slight_smile:

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Hi Tilly
As promised, my experience in the USA with a wheelchair was enlightening.

  1. Public transport was excellent, both trains and buses. Amtrak’s Red Cap service was wonderful. Public buses have an excellent mechanical ramp for passengers with various disability devices to get on/off.
  2. Hop On Hop Off private bus tours - not the best. The various companies do not have all buses with wheelchair access, and we found Big Bus to be the best of the lot. However, in saying that, they only had limited w/c access buses and we found ourselves waiting around quite a lot for the bus with w/c access. In Washington DC they had a smaller shuttle bus they collected us & returned us to our hotel as the larger bus with w/c access was a fair wait. We used Hop On Hop Off in San Francisco, New York, Pennsylvania & Washington DC.
  3. Hotels have two categories for disabled facilities. 1) Disabled Room = bath tub with a grab rail. 2) Walk In Shower = walk in shower with no hub on the floor, grab rails and grab rails for the toilet. It was the latter that we required but it was the former that we received most of the time, much to our annoyance.
  4. Attractions were brilliant with people’s needs who are wheelchair bound.
  5. Airlines were brilliant with people’s needs who are wheelchair bound.
  6. Back in Sydney International Airport and there is a big hole in service. Luggage trolleys are left behind when you catch the train and there is no assistance at your destination. Once we got off at Central to change for our Penrith bound train we were totally on our own and struggled. While we were standing on platform 18, a lovely young German tourist asked us a question and he, in turn, assisted us with our luggage and getting our daughter onto the train, and again getting off at Penrith, where he had to change for his Blue Mountains train. Such a lovely young gentleman.
  7. Taxis were mainly a mini version of say a Kia Carnival, not so good if you can’t walk. You can call for a specific wheelchair taxi but you have to book minimum an hour ahead of time.
  8. Transfer services were minivan’s and not suitable for wheelchair bound people.
  9. The best audio tour ever was Alcatraz.
  10. The best guided talk ever was Muir Woods, California.

All in all, we had a wonderful time and loved every city we visited, which was: San Francisco, Reno, Salt Lake City, Toronto enroute to Niagara Falls, Boston, Salem, New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, Memphis, Oklahoma City, Roswell, Flagstaff, Grand Canyon South Rim, Las Vegas, Los Angeles.

So many bucket lists were ticked off for me and that makes me very happy. I love history!



Thanks so much @nerrel.loader - sounds like you had an amazing trip! I’ve also heard that Disneyland is fantastic for people with reduced mobility, they have all kinds of ways of getting people in wheelchairs securely into rides.

There’s also some work being done in the academic space on journeys. Your example is an excellent one - it might be great to get around the airport in a wheelchair, but what do you do once you leave the airport on public transport? Can you easily complete your journey?

Thanks for your feedback and I hope you’re already planning your next adventure now you’re back!


@TillySouth. Yes, the next trip is already in the making. Trafalgar Tours have advised their coaches do not have wheelchair accessibility, so we will have to ditch the comfort of a guided tour and take ourselves around in a hire car. We will pace ourselves at a slower rate than what we did America though, so husband (driver) gets to enjoy the trip also. Think we will do Ireland and Northern Ireland, then go back to see Scotland, then again for England. Three trips in total. I will do much more research myself this time as I have discovered the tour group I used did not know as much as they made out and did not book us in a better area or hotel in some places. One lives and learns.
Cheers, N.


Well Flight Centre just lost it’s long battle with the ACCC over price fixing. They got fined $12.5 million but this was not the amount ACCC would have liked as they sought a more substantial amount.

To read the ABC article on it see the following link: