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Airline tardy in acknowledging loss
Chisholm resident Phillip John, pictured with his son Lucas, 2, has had an ongoing battle with Virgin Australia
over lost a suitcase.
Photo: Elesa Kurtz
Mary Lynn Mather
When Chisholm resident Phillip John
went to Bali with his wife and their
two-year-old son in August, he
expected to enjoy a relaxing holiday.
Instead, the vacation marked the
start of a lengthy battle with
Australia's second largest airline.
"Unfortunately Virgin Australia lost
a suitcase of checked-in luggage at the
stopover in Melbourne," Mr John said.
"I understand that accidents happen
and bags can go missing, and this in
itself does not upset or concern me."
What did bother him was the way he
Mr John said the airline took
months to provide a written letter
stating what had happened, a
document he needed to claim his travel
He said he made more than a dozen
phone calls and had been "hung up on
at least half a dozen times".
Mr John also submitted "numerous"
written requests and escalated the
complaint internally, "to no avail".
"When you hand your possessions
over at the counter, you trust the airline
to return them to you or at the very
least take some action if they do lose
them," Mr John said.
"It's a rude shock when they break
He said Virgin Australia's customer
service was "atrocious", with nobody
willing to "take ownership" or provide
"I was treated like an
inconvenience," Mr John said.
"Virgin were unwilling to offer a
meaningful apology or even a gesture
of good faith until I engaged my
Federal Member of Parliament and the
airline customer advocate."
Mr John said Gai Brodtmann's
office was "extremely helpful" and
served to prompt a response.
"It wasn't until her staff became
involved that Virgin provided me with
the written acknowledgment that I had
been asking for for four months," Mr
He said he was "disappointed and
frustrated" by the ordeal and hoped
telling his story would "help ensure
future travellers can avoid the
shocking experience I had".
Mr John encouraged them to keep
valuable or irreplaceable items in their
"Virgin managed to spoil the perfect
family holiday," he said, adding his
family would be switching to Qantas.
"We sincerely apologise to Mr John
for the time it took to provide him with
his insurance letter,'' a Virgin
We always attempt to deal with
requests in a timely manner and will
review our processes to ensure we are
able to provide a more swift resolution
CALL FOR CHARITY
Appeal goes out
at stressful time
Member for Fraser
For several years now, Kippax Uniting
Church has run a Let's Give everyone
a Christmas' campaign -- providing
hampers and gifts to needy families.
One year, a mother turned up a day
late for her appointment to collect the
toys and food. Deeply apologetic, the
mother explained that she had been
giving birth to her fourth child the
previous day. Without the gift appeal,
she explained, there would have been
no Christmas in the family that year.
Christmas should be a time to
celebrate, but for many it can be a time
of stress. One in 20 Australian families
say they cannot afford gifts.
Relationship counselling services report
that financial worries negatively affect
families, and Lifeline has documented a
spike in calls during late December.
Last year, the Kippax appeal helped
Emily, a mother of three who was
homeless, escaping from domestic
violence. When she collected her
hamper and the gifts for her children,
Emily spent quite a lot of time telling
her story to the Kippax elf'. This
meant she left with a greater sense of
social connectedness as well as food.
Kippax also helped Debbie, a
grandmother who is raising two of her
grandchildren, one of whom has
cerebral palsy. Between medical
treatment, educational costs, housing
and food, Debbie had little left over.
To give to the Kippax appeal, just go
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