Australians trying to flee war-torn Israel claim they are being charged thousands of dollars to change flights they booked through Qantas, while Emirates is offering the same service for free.
Asher Lilley, from Darwin, was enjoying a holiday with her sister and parents in Israel on Saturday when thousands of Hamas rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip sparking widespread conflict across the region.
The 28-year-old and her family locked themselves in a hotel and could hear missiles and fighting from their room, but have since been forced to leave their refuge after the situation became too dangerous.
They were able to change their return flights with Emirates to leave Israel as quickly as possible, at no extra cost, but were shocked to learn Qantas was charging others thousands for the same privilege.
While Qantas does not fly directly to Israel, customers can book flights there on the national carrier’s website with partner airlines.
Their airline has denied claims it is charging exorbitant fares to flee the warzone and that any extra costs were from other carriers – not Qantas.
Ms Lilley told Daily Mail Australia that one person she knows was charged ‘a couple of thousand’ to reschedule their flights.
Another Australian woman, Bev, has friends stuck in Israel and took to Facebook on Tuesday, saying: ‘Their flights keep being cancelled and Qantas is currently wanting to charge them $10,000.’
Asher Lilley is pictured at the front, with her family in Israel before war broke out on Saturday
Pictured: Ms Lilley’s sister asleep in the bomb shelter her family stayed in between Saturday and Tuesday
Ms Lilley took to Instagram on Monday to slam Qantas: ‘Emirates are allowing people to change their flights for free to an earlier date and Qantas is charging people thousands to do the same.
‘I didn’t think they could get any lower, yet here they are. Charging Aussie citizens $$$ to flee.’
A few hours after being contacted by Daily Mail Australia about the claims, a Qantas spokesperson said that ‘all customers can get a refund if they no longer wish to fly or we will waive the change fees if they want to move flights’, subject to availability.
‘We have been in contact with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and offered support for Australians in Israel.’
‘Customers who are trying to leave Tel Aviv and are having difficulties with flights can contact us to discuss alternatives,’ the airline said.
Ms Lilley also pleaded with the Australian government to help tourists escape Israel, saying her family has barely received any communication at all.
‘We’re stuck here and have no info given to us at all from the embassy or government,’ she said.
‘Registered 24 hours ago told we would be updated and haven’t heard from them once.
‘Just a generic email telling us to keep an eye on flights, as if we aren’t doing that, it’s been terrifying.’
Her family was in northern Israel when war broke out, but they didn’t realise and went outside for a bite to eat.
Ms Lilley took to Instagram to slam Qantas and the Australian government (pictured)
She said the Australian government had barely contacted them, even though they were in a war-torn region
Ms Lilley asked Australians to contact the Australian government and urge it to repatriate citizens
‘We had to run and hide in the staircase while missiles flew overhead,’ she said.
‘We could hear them landing next to us.’
They were in lockdown on Monday because Lebanon started to approach the border and there was gunfire and bombs going off near their shelter.
By Tuesday, her family still hadn’t heard anything from the government.
‘Spent the afternoon locked in the house hearing fighting and missiles not far from us,’ she wrote on Facebook.
‘Where is the support for Australians?
‘It’s not good enough, why have other countries been successful in helping their people get out yet Australia hasn’t? No excuse.’
After being stuck in a bunker for four days, Ms Lilley’s family was forced to make a harrowing two-hour train trip to the Tel Aviv – surrounded by gunfire, explosions and armed soldiers.
Ms Lilley is pictured in Italy, where the family travelled before heading to Israel
Pictured: Missiles flying through the sky in Israel, above where Ms Lilley was staying
Bev and Ms Lilley have encouraged Australians to contact Foreign Minister Penny Wong to campaign for travellers stuck in Israel to be repatriated.
Ms Lilley also explained she was stuck in the UK when Australia locked its borders during the Covid pandemic, and that the situation was similar – ‘no contact, no info, no help,’ she said.
‘It’s their job to keep Australians safe when in crisis in other countries yet we haven’t heard from them in 24 hours,’ she said.
The attacks began about 6.30am Israeli time on Saturday when thousands of Hamas rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel and as far as Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
Israel has been pounding Gaza from the air after the surprise terror attack, killing more than 900 people and seizing about 130 more.
Authorities in Gaza said Israel’s airstrikes had hit a refugee camp, a hospital and mosques, and had killed 687 people and injured a further 2,900.
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk
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