Desperate Bestjet customers left thousands of dollars out-of-pocket after the online travel agency’s collapse fear they’ll never see their money again.
An estimated 10,000 travellers are in the red, with industry insiders saying Bestjet will ultimately owe creditors between $20 million and $30 million.
Customers have a limited number of options to reclaim the cash and are waiting with bated breath for the administrator, Pilot Partners, to finalise its investigation.
Many say they have turned to their banks, insurers and airlines for help, only to be turned away.
“People are very desperate at the moment. They still don’t know if their flights are going to be cancelled or not. They ring their airlines daily,” Kate Ryder, founder of the Bestjet Fiasco Action Group on Facebook, told nine.com.au.
“They don’t know whether to repurchase tickets. They don’t have the option to cancel tickets. They’ve got cars booked overseas, accommodation, other flights.
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“It makes me upset to admit hundreds of new members who are only just finding out about Bestjet’s collapse and having to go through what we did in December.”
The group has more than 2400 members.
The NSW nurse claims she is more than $3000 out-of-pocket after booking two return flights to Europe through Bestjet.
Melbourne couple Grace Daniell and Brady Watt have joined the Facebook group.
They say they’ve lost $3000 after buying two return flights through Bestjet on November 18 for a “bucket list” trip to California.
The 28-year-old pair planned to attend the world-famous Coachella music festival in April. They have been paying off the $US3000 entry tickets since June.
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Ms Daniell said she received airfare “e-tickets” and receipts from Bestjet on the day she booked.
“It was so exciting. We made sure to book flights as early as possible so they wouldn’t be ridiculously expensive,” Ms Daniell told nine.com.au.
“Then we found out Bestjet collapsed. I was discussing with my boyfriend and I was beyond angry, fighting back tears of anger.”
The couple said they have exhausted all their options for getting their money back.
They’ve contacted Virgin Australia, lodged a form with the administrator Pilot Partners to be registered as unsecured creditors and started a chargeback process through their bank, which will take up to three weeks to process.
“This is a huge financial setback for me as now I have to wait and see if my credit card provider will refund me the full amount before I book us more flights,” Ms Daniell said.
“I hope that Bestjet and their administrators do the right thing by their customers because it is extremely disappointing.”
Father-of-two Mark Trench has also been left stranded.
He bought a $1500 return flight from Melbourne to England through Bestjet to attend a wedding.
He said he received a call from airline Emirates on December 30 telling him his ticket had been cancelled as Bestjet was put into administration.
“I had to borrow the money from my brother in England. It’s a lot of money. I then had to pay another $220 to secure flights,” he said.
“Now they’re telling me the money is non-refundable.
“It’s a shambolic state of affairs and it is the principle that these big organisations are happy to take money from Bestjet and bookings, and yet don’t see a red flag when multiple cancellations come in on the same day.”
Nine.com.au exclusively revealed Bestjet and associated companies, Wynyard Travel and Brooklyn Travel, were placed under the voluntary administration of Pilot Partners on December 18.
Bestjet was set up in 2012 by Rachel James before it was taken over by McVicker International on November 2 last year. Six weeks later, the company collapsed.
Ms James is the wife of Michael James, the disgraced boss of Air Australia which collapsed in 2012, owing creditors nearly $100 million.
An Australian Securities and Investments Commission spokeswoman told nine.com.au yesterday the agency was monitoring the administrator, Pilot Partners.
“ASIC certainly has the powers to intervene if it feels the administrators aren’t acting appropriately,” she said.
“We are monitoring the Bestjet issue closely.”
If you claim you are owed money by Bestjet, here are your options:
– Fill in this form to register as an unsecured creditor with administrator Pilot Partners.
– If you booked a flight through Bestjet and received a flight ticket, contact the airline to confirm your booking.
– If you booked through Bestjet but have not received a ticket, contact the airline.
– Contact your financial institution or travel insurance provider and request a refund for your flight.
– Join the Bestjet Fiasco Action Group on Facebook.