Rex Airlines skips scheduled stop mid-flight, leaving passengers stranded

Rex Airlines skips scheduled stop mid-flight, leaving passengers stranded

A major Australian airline has brushed off criticism about the support given to passengers travelling in regional Western Australia. 


Key points:

  • Passengers were given the option to remain in Carnarvon or return to Perth after the plane failed to stop
  • One passenger was a minor, and was left stranded while he waited for his parents to drive 350km to collect him
  • A report has found nearly 4 per cent of Australian domestic flights in April were cancelled

Those onboard a delayed Rex Airlines flight last Thursday intending to travel from Perth to Monkey Mia were told mid-flight the plane wouldn’t be stopping at the popular tourist spot and was continuing north to the final destination of Carnarvon.

Passengers were informed they could either remain in Carnarvon, 350 kilometres from their intended destination, or take a return flight to Perth.

A boarding school student travelling alone on a flight home was among those onboard who had intended to get off in Monkey Mia.

With his boarding house closed for the school break, heading back to Perth wasn’t an option for 17-year-old Indie Oakley.

Instead, he waited in Carnarvon for his parents to collect him by car.

A teenager boy and man in singlets and teenage girl in a mid shot

The Oakley family drove 350 kilometres to collect their son Indie, far left, from Carnarvon.(Supplied: Donnelle Oakley)

His mother, Donnelle Oakley, said she had concerns about her son’s safety while stranded as well as the poor driving conditions the family were forced into.

“We’d had a little bit of rain so there are lots of animals on the road [and] it’s a little bit dangerous travelling on dusk,” she said.

“I was a bit worried to be honest, it was about 9pm when we got there,” she said.

“We ended up getting back home at midnight.”

Out of pocket

Ms Oakley said she had paid full price as the ticketed fare was not eligible for regional travel subsidies.

“If you pay $800 to $900 you expect to be dropped at the place where you booked,” she said.

“To travel three and a half hours to pick up Indie was annoying.”

No compensation has been offered by Rex Airlines.

A close up of man in a white shirt with glasses

CHOICE travel expert Jodi Bird says the recent ACCC report recommended a better resourced independent ombudsman for the airline sector.(Supplied: CHOICE)

A Rex Airlines spokesperson did not respond to detailed questions, including why the decision was made not to stop at Monkey Mia or what support was offered to passengers at the time.

“With regards to individual incidents, Rex is not in a position to comment on the regulated routes of which Monkey Mia/Carnarvon is one,” they said in a statement.

“Such matters are regularly discussed at the community consultative group held by the Department of Transport and we believe that is the right forum to be raising these questions.”

Flights to Monkey Mia occur once a day on northbound routes to Carnarvon.

An additional eight passengers were affected by the airline’s decision to not stop at Monkey Mia, with six arranging a private bus to shuttle them to their destination, and a further two accepting a lift with the Oakley family.

A Rex Airlines plane stands on a runway.

Passengers were told mid-flight that they would be travelling straight through to Carnarvon.(Wikimedia Commons: Bidgee)

Support for customers 

According to the latest report from Australian Competition and Consumer Commission released earlier this week, nearly 4 per cent of Australian domestic flights in April were cancelled and about 30 per cent were late.

Jodi Bird, a travel expert with CHOICE, said the report outlined similar issues to what the consumer advocacy group had seen over the past few years.

“When the airlines have caused consumers problems, there’s not really a great rectification for those problems.

“Officially, you can go to the Airline Customer Advocate, however they are largely ineffective.”

Mr Bird said current regulations in Australia meant passengers were subject to the terms and conditions of the individual carrier.

“The ACCC report has recommended that something be looked at in terms of a more effective, independent ombudsman that has greater resources and greater power to enforce decisions on the airlines.”

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