February 1, 2023

A loyal Qantas customer sued the airline after she was given a “lifetime” membership before it was taken away due to a mistake.

Catriona Wilson had asked for a new Qantas Club membership card when it arrived in the post in 2018 – one that would last “a lifetime”.

Her husband James said he spoke to a member of the airline believing it had been a mistake when he was told his wife had won it in a raffle.

“I thought, ‘this is great, very exciting,’ it’s one of those things: you don’t win raffles or prizes,” Ms Wilson said. Sydney Morning Herald.

“For something like this to arrive in the mail is pretty exciting.”

Catriona Wilson had asked for a new Qantas Club membership card when she received a new one in the post in 2018.

Catriona Wilson had asked for a new Qantas Club membership card when she received a new one in the post in 2018 that lasted

Catriona Wilson had asked for a new Qantas Club membership card when she received a new one in the post in 2018 that lasted “a lifetime” (file image)

Ms Wilson enjoyed free access to the Qantas lounge before the airline abruptly canceled her card in May 2021.

She had been trying to access the lounge at Melbourne airport while waiting to board a flight to South Australia to visit her ailing father when she realized the card had been cancelled.

Ms. Wilson stated that she tried to contact the airline to remedy the situation, but received no response from any of its employees.

The couple had to take their complaint to the airline’s customer ombudsman before learning that the airline had issued the “for life” card in error.

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Ms Wilson was offered the offer to renew her Qantas Club membership at a 20 per cent discount and a waived registration fee, but she flatly refused.

He took the matter to the Victoria Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) demanding that the airline honor the lifetime membership.

Ms Wilson said she would have liked the airline to give her the equivalent value of a membership in the form of frequent flyer points, with an estimated value of $9,775.

Qantas told VCAT that the lifetime membership card had been discontinued in 2007 and that it was a mistake.

VCAT member Susan Burdon-Smith sided with Qantas, saying Ms Wilson had only paid the cost of a regular Qantas Club membership.

‘This is not a situation where the defendant offered a benefit or service and failed to provide it. It was a windfall,” he wrote in his decision.

Qantas told VCAT that the lifetime membership card was discontinued in 2007 and that it was a mistake

Qantas told VCAT that the lifetime membership card was discontinued in 2007 and that it was a mistake

‘As such, the applicable law is that which applies to a benefit obtained in error or in error.

“The error vitiates any intention on the part of Qantas to grant the benefit to the applicant, and gives Qantas a prima facie right to restitution.”

The couple have since sent the card to Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, saying they intend never to use the airline again.

Wilson said the couple had only pursued the matter thus far because of the poor customer service they had received from the airline.

“It was all about principle and abominable customer service,” he said.

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Their case has sparked a mixed reaction from Australians with some criticizing the couple on Facebook.

“It was a mistake that he profited from for several years,” wrote one person.

“He was offered numerous commitments to try to rectify the wrong, but the level of right on his behalf is baffling and now crying to the media after the court ruled against him just shows that some people will always try to play the victim.”

A second added: “First of all they didn’t pay for it, just appreciate you got a free membership for 15 years and move on.”

A Qantas spokesman said the airline had nothing to add following VCAT’s decision.