A boy desperate to see his father for the first time in nine months was left “distraught” after Qantas refused to let him board a flight to see his father.
Charlie Mooney, 12, was due to fly from Auckland to Bangkok to see his father for the first time in nine months when he was turned away from the gate.
The boy’s ticket to fly as an unaccompanied minor to see his father was booked through a Qantas ticketing agent two weeks ago.
The adult ticket was purchased with an additional fee paid to ensure that Charlie would be accommodated on the flight as an unaccompanied minor.
Clare Mooney (left) says her 12-year-old son Charlie Moore (right) was ‘distraught’ after Qantas refused to let him board to see his father
But when his mother, Clare Mooney, dropped her son off at the airport at 3 a.m., they were told he couldn’t board by Qantas’ “unhelpful” staff.
Mooney was first told her son could not board due to a problem with his vaccination certificate.
But then the staff told her this was incorrect and her son could not board as it was an Emirates codeshare journey – meaning there was a different airline for each leg of the journey.
As Qantas was not responsible for escorting her son to the Sydney stopover as the second leg was with Emirates, her son was not allowed to board the plane.
She was then told her son could not board as it was a codeshare flight with Emirates meaning the carrier was different during the second leg of the journey and could not guarantee the unaccompanied minor could be taken care of at the stopover in Sydney
“My son was distraught and angry that he wouldn’t be able to see his father,” Ms Mooney explained to the New Zealand Herald. “I stood there feeling helpless after being treated like I’d done something wrong.”
Ms Mooney said the ticket was booked by Charlie’s father Andrew Read and despite the code sharing being stated at the time of booking, Mr Read was assured it would be in order by the outside booking agent.
Ms Mooney said the ticket was booked by Charlie’s father Andrew Read (right) and the issue was mentioned at the time of booking but he was assured it would be fine
Ms Mooney said the ticket stated that both flights were with Qantas.
Under the Qantas Unaccompanied Minor Policy, a child under 12 years of age is an unaccompanied minor if the child is traveling unaccompanied by a 15-year-old or older sibling or with a parent or guardian.
“If your child is not booked as an unaccompanied minor where appropriate, your child may not be accepted alone and may be denied travel at the airport,” the Qantas Unaccompanied Minor Policy states.
Once it was clear that Charlie would not be allowed on board, both his parents discussed the possibility of him flying as an adult, but again they were told that was not possible.
Ms. Mooney said she felt like Qantas just wanted them to leave as she kept trying to find solutions, but “they just wanted to find problems.”
“I did all the work and they did nothing,” she said.
She and her son returned home and could not find a solution as Charlie’s father spent $4,500 to book alternative flights with Malaysian Airlines so that he could see his son.
Mr Read said he had lodged a complaint with Qantas but was forwarded to Emirates before the airline eventually stopped answering his questions.
Charlie’s father spent $4500 to book alternative flights with Malaysian Airlines so he could see his son. Qantas said they would give the family a refund
“They could have flown Charlie with their ground crew who provided support with very little problem, but instead they approached it so badly. There is no more empathy or humanity around these airlines,” said Mr Read.
Charlie’s parents said the experience was upsetting for the whole family and no warmth or care had been given from the start.
A Qantas spokesperson told the New Zealand Herald that the family would be reimbursed.
“We know this would have been a very frustrating experience and we apologize to the Read family for giving incorrect advice.
Passengers can only use the unaccompanied minor service if they are booked on a Qantas flight with a Qantas flight number. They should not have been informed that they would be able to use the unaccompanied minors service after they made their booking,” the spokesperson said.