Musicians slam Virgin Australia over excess fees

DANIELLE MCGRANE
Last updated 11:12 22/05/2014
Bliss N Eso
HIPHOP BAND: Bliss N Eso perform during the 2014 Big Day Out Festival at Metricon Stadium, Gold Coast, Australia.

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Australian hip-hop band Bliss N Eso have tweeted their displeasure after being hit with a A$1750 (NZ$1886.45) excess baggage fee for a flight with Virgin Australia.

The band, who are currently touring Australia, tweeted a picture of their electronic passenger receipt on Wednesday with the charge.

They had been travelling to Melbourne from the Sunshine Coast on Sunday when the incident occurred.

"Shame on you VirginAustralia claiming to support musicians & then screwing us with a $1750 excess baggage bill )" the band tweeted with the picture.

Virgin Australia responded to the tweet: "We're really disappointed that you've had this experience. The team are looking into this & we will be in touch shortly" and tweeted again about an hour later: "So we can look into this further, could I double check that you had pre-booked as per our musician guidelines?"

The airline said they supported the Australian music industry "through a dedicated service team and an increased complimentary baggage allowance" throughout their domestic network.

However, a Virgin Australia spokesman said musicians need to provide advance warning to take advantage of the offer.

"Groups are required to request the complimentary allowance at least two business days in advance to ensure we are able to accommodate this request within operational limitations," the spokesman said.

Bliss N Eso replied via Twitter to their initial tweet.

"Our management has let us know that Virgin is in touch to get it sorted out.

"It's a shame we had to take to social media to sort this out. Hopefully other customers get as quicker response as we did," they tweeted.

The band's manager, Adam Jankie, said they had been touring the country, catching various flights for the past eight weeks and hadn't encountered this problem before.

"There was a disconnect between the music baggage allowance and what was showing on the system," he said.

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Jankie said Virgin staff wouldn't acknowledge that they were a band to give them the music waiver for the baggage, and so Bliss N Eso was charged for 25 additional pieces of luggage which were all equipment.

"Sometimes things slip through the cracks ... we do expect it but in most cases it's something that will get dealt with on ground level at the airport when it's fairly obvious that it's equipment getting checked in. Especially when there are reasonably prominent local bands, generally those issues don't come up," he said.

Jankie said he provided advance warning to Virgin in order to be granted the baggage allowance waiver.

"I explained to Virgin that when we're sending these through they're not getting sent as a single flight at a time, it's geting sent through in bulk load. So we completely understand that there may be system error or human error in entering those," he said.

He said Virgin had been in touch and wanted to resolve the matter.

- AAP

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