Max Fleet

$485 one-way flights just a 'glitch' in Qantas system

A QANTAS pricing "glitch" has been blamed for Bundaberg travellers being hit with $485 one-way fares to Brisbane.

The error in pricing was discovered on Thursday when Bundaberg economics consultant, Neil McPhillips, was alerted to the price increase by other businesses.

Mr McPhillips then tried to make a booking on one of the early flights to Brisbane and was shocked to find the one-way price was $485 all the way up until Christmas.

Upset at the cost and its possible effect on business in Bundaberg, Mr McPhillips rang Qantas.

"I spent 45 minutes on the phone to Qantas Frequent Flyer to find out the reasons for this and they have advised me that 'it is probably because they are so popular, they have bumped up the price'.

This will hold business back…we decide to live and work in an area that is conducive to doing business from anywhere…gouging such as this doesn't support regional living and working

"The person I spoke to advised she understood my frustration but the more people that provide customer feedback - the closer Qantas will have a look at the pricing."

After a NewsMail email to the Qantas media Thursday afternoon it was revealed the price was a "glitch" in the system and the prices were adjusted online, down from $485 to $369 -$165 depending on the date of departure.

The fare from Brisbane to Bundaberg still remained at $485. Another email to Qantas media revealed the return fare was also a glitch and they were adjusted down yesterday morning.

Mr McPhillips says the mix up highlighted an issue with the cost of early morning flights from Bundaberg to Brisbane compared to other nearby regional centres.

His research shows early flights from Hervey Bay and Gladstone to Brisbane are substantially cheaper, sometimes as much as $200.

While flights in the middle of the day from Bundaberg are competitive the cost of early morning flights has a negative impact on the business community.

It also hits residents that need to attend early morning health appointments in Brisbane.

"This is just another thing that is hurting our business people," Mr McPhillips said.

"These two flights (early morning) are when most business people have to fly.

"This will hold business back…we decide to live and work in an area that is conducive to doing business from anywhere…gouging such as this doesn't support regional living and working."

Principal of Remax Precision real estate, Scott Mackey, echoed Mr McPhillips concerns about business travel and added investors coming to Bundaberg also took flight costs into account.

He said investors and families wanting to buy property in the region take into account the cost of travel to the area.

"When you can fly further for cheaper, it is an issue," Mr Mackey said.

"If our flight prices were more attractive it would encourage more people to come here to holiday and invest," he said.

Both men didn't begrudge Qantas trying to make money but said the system needed to be fairer when neighbouring regions were competing against each other for economic benefit.

They said there were many in the business community trying to attract business to Bundaberg and when the first thing they confront is an expensive flight it may make them rethink coming here.

A Qantas spokeswoman said the issue was not an easy one to explain.

"Our airfares in and out of Bundaberg are currently starting at $99, which most people would agree is a pretty attractive price," the spokesperson said.

"There are many factors for airline pricing, with one of the main factors being supply and demand.

"As is the case with most airlines, early morning flights into a capital city generally have much higher demand, meaning that the pricing structure is different to other flights with less demand.

"We are the only airline that offers five return flights a day in and out of Bundaberg, as we know how important frequency is for our customers in Bundaberg."

The Qantas spokesperson was unsure how many people had purchased the $485 tickets and remained tight lipped on people receiving refunds.

She said the prices were only up for a few days.

"We would have to check records on the numbers."

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