Veteran Adam McPhee travelled nearly 15,000 kilometres from Melbourne to Gallipoli to wear his medals for the Anzac Day dawn service, but his medals, which he received for tours in East Timor and the Solomon Islands, almost didn’t make it.

They were held up in Dubai alongside the rest of his luggage after torrential rain hit the United Arab Emirates.

McPhee and his wife, Kylie, got their luggage back around five days into their trip only after tracking it down via their AirTags, taking a costly private shuttle to the Istanbul airport, and negotiating with airport staff to be able to find their bags among the thousands of pieces of items in the holding area.

Veteran Adam McPhee and his wife, Kylie, said a stressful situation was  worsened by their insurer not paying out compensation.

Veteran Adam McPhee and his wife, Kylie, said a stressful situation was worsened by their insurer not paying out compensation.

The delay cost the pair several thousand dollars in hotels, meals, clothes and hiking shoes to be able to participate in their battlefield tour.

Despite the floods making international headlines their insurer, Allianz, has yet to pay them a cent.

Kylie has spent the last six weeks fighting for what they are owed, including $500 which should have immediately been paid out after their luggage was missing for 24 hours.

Allianz has not approved their claim because their airline, Emirates, did not provide a Property Irregularity Report number due to its system being down.

“We’re going in circles. Emirates is pointing the finger at Allianz, and Allianz is pointing the finger at Emirates,” Kylie said.

“We’re hoping to get what’s specified in our insurance as a minimum.”

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Another member of their tour is still missing his bag which contained his medals, as well as those of his grandfather and father.

McPhee said fighting with Allianz made an aggravating situation worse.

“The whole point was to get there for Anzac Day to wear my medals for a dawn service, and it got to a point where I thought I wasn’t going to be able to do that. It was frustrating and stressful,” he said.

Spokespeople for Allianz and Emirates had not responded to questions by the time of publication.

Emirates Airline president Sir Tim Clarke wrote an open letter in late April apologising to customers impacted. He said the country experienced the highest rainfall in 75 years, leading to nearly 500 flights being cancelled and 30,000 pieces of baggage needing to be returned to their owners.

“We acknowledge and understand the frustration of our customers due to the congestion, lack of information, and confusion in the terminals. We acknowledge that the long queues and wait times have been unacceptable,” he wrote.

The Australian Financial Complaints Authority, which deals with complaints about insurers, reported a sharp increase in travel insurance complaints compared to pre-COVID-19 figures.

In 2018-19 it received 1029 complaints, compared with 1679 in 2022-23.

Consumers Federation of Australia chairman Gerard Brody said Australia needed consumer protection standards to address a range of community concerns, including cancelled travel and lost luggage, alongside an aviation ombudsman.

“One of the problems is there isn’t necessarily clear standards about the types of compensation airlines should give you if you experience some sort of loss or harm … so there’s no clarity,” he said.

“If there was an ombudsman service … the airline bears the cost of that complaint, so there’s a financial incentive for them to resolve complaints or issues much more quickly.”

Minister for Transport Catherine King said airlines and insurers needed to do better.

“It is incredibly disappointing that Australians are still not getting fair treatment from airlines. Whether the issue is with the insurer or the airline, they need to resolve it quickly,” she said.

“We’ve commenced detailed work through the Aviation White Paper to consider options to strengthen consumer protections for Australian travellers as well as support the growth and development of the sector.”

Hundreds of submissions have been received through consultation and the Aviation White Paper is expected to be released in mid-2024.

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Article source: https://airlines.einnews.com/article/716513098/oX703pcPuLch7PIk?ref=rss&ecode=vaZAu9rk30b8KC5H

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