A Qantas booking error seated a baby and her parents on different flights home. They say the resulting 12-day delay cost them nearly $12,000 — but the airline will only pay $7,300.

·3 min read
The Braham family told Insider Qantas booked their 13-month-old baby on a different flight from her parents.
Qantas booked Andrew and Stephanie Braham on a separate flight home.Andrew and Stephanie Braham/James D. Morgan via Getty
  • Qantas booked Andrew and Stephanie Braham and their baby daughter on separate flights home.

  • The booking error left the family stranded in Rome, Italy for 12 days.

  • The Brahams say this left them $12,000 out of pocket but the airline will only reimburse them $7,300.

An Australian couple say they were left nearly $12,000 out of pocket after a booking error by Qantas meant their 13-month-old baby was seated on a different flight home.

Andrew and Stephanie Braham ultimately spent 12 days stuck in Rome, Italy, while waiting to fly home as a family, spending thousands on accommodation, baby care, travel, and food.

The Brahams spent three and a half weeks touring Europe before discovering Qantas had moved their baby daughter onto a separate connecting flight on their trip home to Australia.

They were supposed to start their journey home from Rome on July 14 but Qantas could only fly the three of them home together on July 26.

Andrew and Stephanie told Insider it cost them an "absolute fortune" to stay in Rome, Italy's capital and a tourist hotspot, for an extra 12 days. They said there were worse places to get stuck, but they were nonetheless restricted with what they could do.

They calculated they were left out of pocket to the tune of $17,052.52 Australian dollars, or nearly $12,000 US dollars.

They put expenses including accommodation, food, and transport at AU$8,397.09. This included a phone bill of around AU$1,000 after spending more than 20 hours talking to Qantas' customer service line while stuck in Rome, they said.

Insider has verified the Brahams' expenses.

The couple said that Andrew, who is self-employed, lost income because of the delay while Stephanie was forced to take two weeks of annual leave from her job. They put the combined value of these costs at $8,655.63.

In an email to Qantas, the couple outlined their calculation for expenses, Andrew's loss of earnings, and the value of Stephanie's leave, giving a total of AU$17,052.72, equivalent to US$11,893.37. Stephanie said in the same email the couple were willing to accept reimbursement of AU$13,397 in total.

However, Qantas replied offering to reimburse them AU$10,397.09 — the full AU$8,397 for expenses plus a "goodwill" payment of AU$2,000. The airline said its offer was "more than reasonable" and it was unable to further compensate the family.

Insider has seen the email exchange.

"We've apologised to the family and offered to reimburse all of their expenses including their accommodation in Rome, upgraded them to Business for the flight home and offered a $2000 goodwill payment," a Qantas spokesperson told Insider. "We won't be paying the claim they have made on top of this for lost income."

The airline had previously told Andrew and Stephanie it would reimburse them AU$350 for each day of the delay, they said.

Stephanie said that wasn't enough. "We budgeted for three and a half weeks, so to have that extended by two weeks, it's a significant expense," she said, adding that they found toiletries, baby wipes, and nappies extortionately priced in Rome compared with bulk-buying them in Australia.

The couple said they had to spend conservatively in Rome because they weren't sure at the time how much Qantas would reimburse them. They said they visited Vatican City, walked, and read books while trying to keep their daughter occupied.

While they were stranded, the family had to move from a hotel near the airport to a hotel in Rome's suburbs, then an Airbnb. "It's not as though we would go and stay in a nice hotel with a pool," Stephanie said.

When asked by Insider whether they'd fly with Qantas again, the couple said they considered themselves loyal customers, but were looking to switch their reward program to another airline.

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