Carnival Cruise passenger goes missing from Fantasy, cruise line confirms

Carnival Cruise Line has confirmed that a passenger on the Carnival Fantasy went missing during a cruise to the Western Caribbean. "While Carnival Fantasy was en route to its scheduled call of Progreso, Mexico, a male guest was reported missing," reads a statement from the cruise line obtained by Fox News. "Several announcements have been made … Continue reading “Carnival Cruise passenger goes missing from Fantasy, cruise line confirms”

Carnival Cruise Line has confirmed that a passenger on the Carnival Fantasy went missing during a cruise to the Western Caribbean.

"While Carnival Fantasy was en route to its scheduled call of Progreso, Mexico, a male guest was reported missing," reads a statement from the cruise line obtained by Fox News.

"Several announcements have been made and a shipwide search is underway to locate the guest. All appropriate authorities have been notified and Mexican authorities are providing assistance with the shipboard search."

The ship had originally left from Mobile, Ala., on Saturday for a five-night cruise to Cozumel, Mexico. The ship left Progreso at its scheduled time on Monday, though the cruise line has not yet indicated whether the search has been called off, the Associated Press reported.

NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE SHIP LEAVES COUPLE STRANDED IN CUBA AFTER DEPARTING EARLY

News of the missing passenger follows a similar incident from Dec. 14, during which Carnival Cruise guest Thomas McElhany went overboard approximately 35 miles south of Islamorada, Fla., during the Victory's trip back to Miami after a four-night cruise that made stops in Key West and Cozumel.

The United States Coast Guard suspended its search on Dec. 16 for the 26-year-old passenger. The previous day, representatives for the cruise line told Fox News that "the facts surrounding this unfortunate incident indicate it was an intentional act."

Airport thief filmed stealing thousands in cash from security tray during screening

A thief at an airport in Rome was caught red-handed by security footage stealing over $9,000 cash from another passenger as they went through security.

The Polizia di Stato, one of the national police forces of Italy, released the CCTV footage from Fiumicino Airport on Twitter Friday.

DINER AT GRAND CENTRAL OYSTER BAR FINDS 'EXTREMELY RARE' PEARL WORTH THOUSANDS IN HIS LUNCH

The video shows one man in a striped T-shirt place two envelopes containing cash in a tub on the conveyor belt as he waits to go through the X-ray machine. Behind him, a man in a white shirt passes through a different X-ray machine and comes out ahead of the first man.

As their belongings come through the machine to be picked up, the man in the white shirt sees the envelopes full of money and grabs them before taking his own belongings and disappearing. The man in the striped shirt then comes through the X-ray machine and starts frantically searching all the empty tubs for his missing money.

According to the police, the thief hid the money in the bathroom to take at a later time. He was eventually arrested and the money, which was to be used for the medical care of the owner’s relative, was returned.

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“Airports work closely with their security staff and local police forces to ensure that the nearly 300 million passengers that travel through U.K. airports every year do so in a safe and secure environment," a spokesperson for the Airport Operators Association told The Independent. "Thanks to this secure environment, incidents at U.K. airports are extremely rare. Airports will continue to focus on providing passengers with peace of mind during their travels.”

Michelle Gant is a writer and editor for Fox News Lifestyle.

Family seeks help locating camera containing photos of deceased father

A heartbroken family is sending out a plea for help in locating their missing camera they left behind at an airport and contains photos of their recently deceased husband and father.

Adisa Jasarevic Zec shared the story on her Facebook page, explaining that her son accidentally left the camera behind at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport Terminal 1 Gate C28 on their way home to Indiana.

AIRPORT THIEF FILMED STEALING THOUSANDS IN CASH FROM SECURITY TRAY DURING SCREENING

Zec explained that the camera contains photos of her late husband, who recently died of lung cancer, along with pictures from his funeral, which they were just returning from in Bosnia.

“This is all that we have and it means life to us! My son has been crying and feeling like he lost his dad all over again! Please help us get our memories back because that’s all we have right now,” she wrote.

She also shared an image of her son at the airport and in it you can see part of the black camera bag.

Zec is offering a $1,000 reward to anyone who finds it and sends the memory card back, writing that they can keep the camera.

FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK FOR MORE FOX LIFESTYLE NEWS

“Please help us share and find some peace in this most difficult time in our life,” she wrote.

The post, which was written on Saturday, has since been shared nearly 3,000 times as of Tuesday afternoon.

Michelle Gant is a writer and editor for Fox News Lifestyle.

Virgin Australia under investigation after engines ‘flame out’ near

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) is investigating a worrying incident involving a Virgin Australia ATR 72-600 VH-FVN in which both engines on the regional turboprop airline “flamed out” while flying in rain on Monday.

According to Australian Aviation, the incident, which occurred near Canberra airport, involved a flight from Sydney.

“While the aircraft was descending through 11,000ft in heavy rain, the right engine’s power rolled back (decreased) and the engine flamed out.

“The engine automatically restarted within five seconds,” the ATSB said.

Virgin Australia is under investigation from the Australian Transport Safety Burea after an engine fire on a turboprop plane during landing. Picture: SuppliedSource:Supplied

“The descent continued and, while passing through 10,000ft, the left engine’s power also rolled back and that engine flamed out before automatically relighting.”

Luckily, the plane’s crew manually ignited the engines for the remainder of the flight and the landing.

The ATSB has begun collecting evidence from the incident including downloading the aircraft’s flight data recorder.

The safety investigator has revealed that the investigation may take several months, and that should a critical safety issue be identified during the course of the investigation, the ATSB will immediately notify relevant parties so appropriate action can be taken.”

Jetstar in court over misleading claims about refunds, ACCC says

Jetstar has been taken to court and could pay fines of almost $2 million for misleading customers about their rights to a refund.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said Jetstar had admitted its website wrongly told passengers not all fares were refundable, and refunds were only available to passengers who bought more expensive tickets.

Under Australian consumer law, passengers whose flights are cancelled or significantly delayed due to reasons within the airline’s control are entitled to refunds.

“No matter how cheap the fares are, airlines cannot make blanket statements to consumers that flights are non-refundable,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said today.

“It’s frustrating for travellers when they have difficulty getting a refund for flights when they are entitled to one.

“This case is important not only for holding Jetstar to account, but sending a wider message that businesses cannot exclude or limit consumers’ rights under the Australian Consumer Law.”

Jetstar also admitted its terms and conditions wrongly told consumers standard consumer guarantees did not apply to its flights.

The proceedings against Jetstar have come amid an ACCC crackdown on Australia’s four major airlines and their refund policies.

Jetstar said it has updated the terms and conditions on its website to be clearer about passengers’ refund rights.

“We take our obligations under Australian Consumer Law seriously,” Jetstar Group chief executive officer Gareth Evans said.

“We worked closely with the ACCC as part of its review of Australian airlines’ terms and conditions and in July made changes to the wording on our website and added information about customers’ rights under the Australian Consumer Law when flights are delayed or cancelled.

“We also updated our terms and conditions to make it easier for customers to understand when they are eligible for a refund.”

Mr Evans said the airline was not obligated to refunds for change of mind.

“Like other low-fares airlines in Australia and around the world, customers who purchase our cheapest fares cannot get a refund if they decide they no longer wish to travel,” he said.

“For customers who are likely to change their mind or need flexibility, we have a number of fare types that give them that option.”

The ACCC and Jetstar have agreed to a $1.95 million penalty, which has been submitted to the Federal Court. The court will now decide on the appropriate penalty.

The watchdog has secured court-enforceable undertakings from Qantas, Virgin Australia and its subsidiary Tigerair, as well as Jetstar, to make sure their refund policies and practices complied with consumer law.

Jetstar said since July it has updated the wording of its terms and conditions to make passengers’ consumer rights clearer.

Airlines were obligated to offer refunds when there was a significant delay or cancellation due something under their control, finder.com.au’s insights manager Graham Cooke said.

“Cheaper fares have often been marked as not being refundable, when in reality customers are entitled to a refund if a delay or cancellation is due to an issue under the airline’s control,” Mr Cooke said.

“The ACCC rulings do not mean that every delay is covered. Circumstances which are outside of the airline’s control such as freak weather events and natural disasters don’t entitle you to a refund. This is where it’s best to check your travel insurance policy to see if you’re covered.”

Mr Cooke said generally, the more basic the airline, “the less compensation you’ll get.”

“Flight delays and cancellations are sometimes unavoidable for travellers, but you should never pay for a service if you’re not receiving it,” he said.

“Make sure you’re aware of your rights so you avoid any financial loss, and remember to always take out travel insurance to give you additional help if things do go wrong.”

Jetstar provides offers when a flight is delayed by more than three hours, or cancelled, due to causes within its control, such as engineering or staffing issues.

While weather events are not considered grounds for a refund, Jetstar said it has offered refunds in major incidents beyond its control, such as last year’s Bali ash cloud.

Why I’m always the last passenger to board a plane

You know the feeling. You’re on a long-haul flight, wedged into 74F and squeezed between a man who hasn’t showered in recent memory, a kid who won’t sit still, and a woman who keeps hogging the armrest. You’re thinking — are we there yet? — and the plane is still on the runway.

Me? I’m five rows behind you, happily sprawled out on an empty middle row of three or four seats, and looking forward to some extended shut-eye after dinner and a movie. How did I score the best seat in zoo class? With a little forward planning, lots of chutzpah and, of course, a wing and a prayer.

Having bought my ticket, I regularly check the flight’s online seat map — changing seats as the economy cabin fills up — for as long as the seat plan remains available. It also provides a sense of how full the flight is closer to departure day, then it’s off to the airport.

Last on means the best way to score a row of empty seats.Source:istock

To be clear, there are rules for flying economy. Check in early, be at the gate lounge well ahead of time, board in order of seating row, and remain in your seat until the aircraft doors are closed.

Rule one is a given, offering the opportunity to score a coveted exit row seat. Many airlines sell these seats — online or at check-in for a nominal $80 or $100. Trust me, the extra space is worth every cent if the flight is chockers.

Getting to the departure gate lounge early allows time for questions with the boarding crew (naturally checking their name tags, calling them by their first name and flashing your best smile). Is the flight full? Is anyone sitting next to me? Are there any empty seats at the back of the plane?

I GOT STUCK IN A MIDDLE SEAT FOR 23 HOURS. AND WON

Walk confidently down the aisle.Source:istock

Rule three is for the birds. Read a newspaper or magazine or make a few phone calls while everyone else lines up to board as requested. This takes some nerve as the gate lounge empties, but the key here is to be the last — the very last — passenger to board.

Stand by the gate as the final boarding call is made, make a last check of the lounge, and head down the air bridge. If any stragglers come behind you, wave them ahead with a cheery smile.

And now for your Oscar-winning performance. Once on board, walk the entire length of the plane, bypassing your own seat and scanning the cabin for any empty rows or pairs of empty seats, invariably at the rear of the plane.

Keep cross-checking your boarding pass and aisle numbers to make it look as though you’re searching for your assigned seat and if you’re lucky to find an empty row, move in with the conviction of a lion kill.

Find an empty row and own it.Source:istock

At this very late stage of boarding and the crew busy with cabin checks, it’s unlikely anyone will ask to see your boarding pass.

Expect glares from other passengers who have been eyeing your row but dutifully remained in their seats until the aircraft doors closed behind you, but who cares?

Drop your hand luggage on one aisle seat, push the extra pillows and blankets to the other aisle seat, plonk yourself in the middle of the row and make yourself at home.

It doesn’t work every time — a full flight is a full flight — and if a crew member calls you out, simply return to your assigned seat, but this is one frequent flyer trick definitely worth trying.

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Originally published as The boarding gate rule I always break

Hotel booking site refuses refunds to furious customers after all bookings are cancelled

Thousands of holiday-makers had their trips ruined and have been left out of pocket after an online booking agency suddenly cancelled all its reservations without refunding the money.

HotelQuickly, which is based in Asia, is listed as a booking option on TripAdvisor and Trivago, and boasts it has connections with more than 265,000 hotels worldwide.

But it’s suddenly reneged on thousands of bookings, and despite customers already having paid in full, it’s refusing refunds except in the form of credit vouchers.

Thousands of customers were told of the sudden cancellation of their trips via email, with HotelQuickly then posting a statement on its Facebook page.

“Unfortunately, due to an unforeseen issue with our main hotel supplier many reservations have been cancelled,” the message said.

“We fully understand how disappointing this situation is and we are working very hard to come up with a manageable solution.

“However, at the moment and until a solution is in place, we can only offer you a refund in the form of a credit voucher for the value of your original booking that you can use for a future reservation.”

News.com.au has approached HotelQuickly for a comment.

Many stung travellers from around the world have accused the company of scamming them.

“It looks as if HotelQuickly are either conning, defrauding or going bankrupt,” customer Les Davis told the Independent.

“Not sure how many people have lost money with this outfit but I contacted them through TripAdvisor and made a booking for two nights in Bryce Canyon, US, for a trip next May.

“The hotel confirmed the booking which I stupidly paid in full by debit card at the time of booking.”

Furious customers vent on HotelQuickly’s Facebook page.Source:Facebook

West Australian woman Debbie Hamilton had booked two luxury resorts through HotelQuickly for a holiday in Thailand with her husband over the summer.

She got HotelQuickly’s email that both bookings had been cancelled on December 9.

“I rang both hotels, and they both said the booking had been made but cancelled on December 6,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.

“I frantically re-booked straight away, but had to pay an extra $400 all up for the booking, as it was peak time.”

Mrs Hamilton said HotelQuickly sent her online vouchers as a refund for the $1200 she had paid for the bookings, but the vouchers had a broken link, rendering them useless.

“I felt like someone had come in and burgled me,” she said. I felt very vulnerable and I was panicking that the bank wouldn’t come to the party.”

Another customer, Christopher Cotton, had the same problem with the credit voucher he was sent.

HotelQuickly has told customers their bookings have been cancelled.Source:Supplied

“When you try and use the voucher they offer, there are either no hotels or it states the voucher has been used before. It’s a worthless voucher,” he told the Independent.

Angry customers have also lashed out at TripAdvisor and Trivago, which directed many of them to HotelQuickly.

“@TripAdvisor why are you still advertising HotelQuickly on your site when they have clearly scammed a lot of people,” John Tweedie tweeted.

“My wife meant to fly to Fuerteventura at 6 in the morning and we received a cancellation email today, money gone.”

Another Twitter user, Simon Ledger, said to Trivago: “HotelQuickly is scamming your customers, cancelling all bookings prior to the date and offering future vouchers in exchange instead of refunds, can you help contacting them to resolve the issue please?”

Hey @TripAdvisor can you de-partner with hotelquickly ? Just Google/trustpilot/twitter for them, they've been cancelling rooms and witholding money for days now and yet they're still available to book with through your platform.

— Nathaniel Freeman (@volmasoft) December 9, 2018

Huge scam@hotelquickly #hotelquickly. Please stay away from these scammers. They ruin people’s hard earned holiday plans.

— catherine (@ThisLifeNowNZ) December 17, 2018

I have also been scammed @hotelquickly Paid in full for a hotel in Nassau, Bahamas & now cancelled.

— Debbie Greenwell (@debbiegreenwell) December 13, 2018

@trivago thank you for your amazing service in linking us to #HotelQuickly we are hundreds of pounds out of pocket as you have partnered with scammers. Hotel cancelled within days of the trip, no refund, no correspondence. I appreciate your help in making this happen #pissed

— Rob Murray (@Robsmurray) December 14, 2018

In a statement to news.com.au, TripAdvisor said there were a number of things customers should do if they were impacted by HotelQuickly.

“We are very concerned to hear about the difficulties some HotelQuickly customers are experiencing with their bookings,” a spokesperson said.

“We advise anyone who has been impacted by this matter caused by HotelQuickly to do the following.

“Locate your confirmation email and HotelQuickly booking reference number.

“If a payment was already processed on your booking, please contact your Credit Card provider to dispute the charge from HotelQuickly letting the credit card company know you believe the booking has not or will not be fulfilled.

“If a payment has not yet been charged to your account, please contact your Bank or Credit Card provider to ensure any future payment is blocked.

“Check your travel insurance documentation to see if you may be eligible for compensation.

Look for alternative accommodation as soon as possible.”

News.com.au has contacted Trivago for comment.

Murdered backpacker Grace Millane’s final act of kindness

Murdered backpacker Grace Millane carried out a final act of kindness before she was killed in New Zealand.

The 22-year-old cut her long hair and sent her locks to the Little Princess Trust so it could be turned into wigs for children with cancer.

She then left the UK to go on a “trip of a lifetime” but it tragically ended in her murder earlier this month.

Her older brother Michael told The Sunday Times: “She had really long hair before she left. But she cut it all off and donated it to the Little Princess Trust.”

Grace’s family also revealed they have endured “two weeks of hell” since her disappearance and death in Auckland.

They paid tribute to the “beautiful” backpacker and revealed how she had a passion for travelling and was recently planning a return trip to the Far East.

Grace’s body was found by police on the outskirts of Auckland after she went missing on December 1, the day before her 22nd birthday.

Grace Millane donated locks of her hair to kids battling cancer. Picture: SuppliedSource:Supplied

However, her family have now told said they hope the death “will not deter even one person from venturing out into the world”.

And as dad David returned back home to the UK with his daughter’s body, the rest of Grace’s family paid tribute to the “beautiful daughter and sister”.

Brothers, Michael, 29, and Declan, 26, and mother, Gillian, said she had “a passion to see the world” and had more travel plans up her sleeve.

“We all fly the nest,” said Michael. Her death “should not deter any man or woman” from following their dreams, he added.

After Grace’s body was discovered a 26-year-old man — who cannot be named for legal reasons- was charged with her murder.

This weekend it emerged that Grace’s mother, Gillian, 57, had been unable to travel abroad with her husband because she was undergoing breast cancer treatment.

Michael said his father, who owns a construction company, had endured “two weeks of hell”since the tragedy.

Police search the area around where Grace Millane’s body was found on December 10. Picture: GettySource:Getty Images

Killed UK backpacker Grace Millane. Picture: SuppliedSource:Supplied

Grace graduated with a marketing degree from the University of Lincoln in September and went travelling on October 26.

The outgoing former student spent six weeks in South America as part of a gap year.

The 22-year-old from Billericay, Essex, arrived in New Zealand alone on November 19 and was last seen on Saturday, December 1.

Grace travelled to the North Island city in late November but alarms bells rang when she failed to respond to birthday well-wishes on her 22nd birthday on December 2.

Grace had been staying at the £10-a-night ($A17.53) Base Backpackers on Queen Street, a popular location for travellers in the centre of the city.

Her family was left baffled after they lost contact with Grace, describing her silence as “completely out of character”.

Police search the area where Grace Millane’s body was found on December 10. Picture: GettySource:Getty Images

Grace Millane’s father David Millane reads a statement in Auckland, New Zealand. Picture: GettySource:Getty Images

Plans for another long-distance trip had already taken root, with Asia and the Far East in her sights.

“She had decided, ‘Once I’ve done this bit, I want to go to the other side’,” said Michael, who works with his younger brother for the family firm.

“She had a passion to see the world before she settled into a job. Her mind was set that she wanted to do this thing.”

The latest development comes after thousands expressed sorrow, anger and shame at vigils across New Zealand mourning the death of British tourist Grace Millane.

Crowds gathered in half a dozen cities last week at candlelit events.

Tributes are pictured outside the CityLife Hotel on Queen Street in Auckland, New Zealand. Picture: GettySource:Getty Images

In the capital, Wellington, hundreds packed the town centre for an outpouring of emotion, reflecting on a failure to protect a visitor in a country that prides itself on hospitality.

“There is a real sense of shame. We should have kept her safe,” attendee Mandy Evett told AAP.

“She was our guest, she was young. You send your kid off somewhere on an adventure and you think they’re going to be safe … We need to change our culture, our attitude towards women.” It reflected sentiment among speakers at events across the country, who drew attention to New Zealand’s reported domestic violence rates, the highest in the developed world.

The article originally appeared on The Sun and has been republished with permission.

Originally published as Murdered backpacker’s final kind act

Tigerair flight to Melbourne turned around mid-air after ‘threat’ and ‘incident on-board’

A Tigerair plane from Sydney to Melbourne turned back mid-flight following a possible safety threat on board last night.

Tigerair’s flight TT271 to Melbourne was forced to return to Sydney Airport after a “written threat” was reportedly found on board.

The flight left at 7.05pm last night and returned to Sydney at 8.35pm.

Flight path of Tigerair flight TT271 from Sydney to MelbourneSource:Supplied

Police surrounded the plane and passengers were told to stay seated and switch off their phones.

A Tigerair Australia spokesman said in a statement: “The captain made the decision to return to Sydney following an incident on-board. In line with standard procedures, the Australian Federal Police met the aircraft on arrival.”

No one has been arrested and there have been no reported injuries.

My @TigerairAU flight from Sydney to Melbourne just took off, we flew for an hour and then we just landed back in Sydney. We haven’t been told why yet. @TigerairAU can you let us know why?

— Stevie Nicholson (@NicholsonStevie) December 17, 2018

pic.twitter.com/mkX3xFw58W

— Stevie Nicholson (@NicholsonStevie) December 17, 2018

@TigerairAU Why has there been an emergency landing in Sydney? Can you please let us know what’s happening as this is deeply concerning.

— Tanika Anderson (@Tanika_Mei) December 17, 2018

A New South Wales Police spokeswoman said officers were on the scene at Sydney Airport.

She said officers from Botany Bay Police Area Command were called to the scene with other emergency response agencies after reports of a “threat” at about 8.30pm. “As a precaution, the plane was turned around,” she added.

An investigation is underway by Botany Bay Police Area Command.

Today reporter Sophie Upcroft said initial reports mentioned a bomb threat but police had told her this morning “this threat was more indirect in nature, and that it was a written threat found.”

Tigerair flight TT655 was turned back amid reports of a ‘written threat’ found on board.Source:News Corp Australia

Some passengers took to social media to complain about the lack of information coming from authorities.

Stevie Nicholson said “hundreds of passengers” had “been through hell and not one staff member to help sort out flights or even tell us what happened.”

His worried partner Tanika Anderson said the situation was “deeply concerning”.

Passengers were finally allowed to check in for a new flight to Melbourne today, but Mr Nicholosn complained his was not due to leave until 9pm.

Sydney Airport has a curfew which stops planes leaving after 11pm, which meant the passengers could not be put on flights last night.

Know more? Email: andrew.koubaridis@news.com.au

Disgruntled holiday-maker wins Expedia payout after Hawaii nightmare

When Hugh Selby saw pictures of a beachside shack on idyllic Hawaiian island of Oahu, he was so captivated by the clear water and palm trees he decided to book.

It looked a world away from his home in landlocked Canberra, so he copped the $300-a-night price tag and began looking forward to soaking in the Pacific.

When he rocked up at the Rocky Point Beachfront accommodation a couple of months later with his family, he was so disappointed that he declined to stay there.

He said he was greeted by a “dilapidated” basement, which he described as “old” and “dirty”.

Rather than the incredible beach views that had captivated him as he entered his credit card details into the Wotif website, the underground shack simply looked out over a scruffy outdoor kitchenette.

Mr Selby was sucked in the stunning beach views promised on the website. Picture: WotifSource:Supplied

The shack cost just over $300 a night to rent out. Picture: WotifSource:Supplied

Now, Wotif — one of Australia’s most popular holiday booking providers — has been forced to pay out the disgruntled holiday-maker after a tribunal decision.

He took Wotif’s parent company Expedia to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT), which found the travel provider was misleading and deceptive in its promises that customers could “book with confidence” because the company has “heaps of local knowledge”.

This was view Mr Selby and his family were greeted with. Picture: Hugh SelbySource:Supplied

It didn’t look like the Wotif pictures made out. Picture: WotifSource:Supplied

“It was not unreasonable for the applicant to form the view, based on the representations (the pictures of the shack) that the respondents (Wotif) had ‘heaps of local knowledge’ and that you could ‘book with confidence’, that Wotif was promising that the applicant could rely on the information provided about Rocky Point Beachfront in Haleiwa, Hawaii, and that the applicant could enter into the contract with Rocky Point Beachfront with confidence,” senior member Jann Lennard said.

“This has not proved to be true. The accommodation was, as a matter of fact, not as described on the website but in a dilapidated and rundown condition, and with no sea views.”

Mr Selby told The Canberra Times he would have happily paid backpacker’s rates for the accommodation back in the 1970s.

“But I’m not 22 and this was not being offered at backpacker’s rates,” he said.

After refusing to stay at the shack, the tribunal findings show Mr Selby was unable to reach the owner so he complained to Wotif and demanded a refund of the $628.34 for the two-night stay.

Mr Selby wanted a full refund for the trip. Picture: Hugh SelbySource:Supplied

However, the company refused and offered him a $150 coupon instead, which Mr Selby refused. He wanted all his money back.

Defending itself in the tribunal, Wotif said it wasn’t responsible for the nature of the ad or the quality of the accommodation.

It said there were clear exclusion clauses on its website and said the crucial statements — “heaps of local knowledge” and “book with confidence” — were merely “puffery”, a sales pitch.

“So what you essentially say is there’s no contractual liability because of the exclusion clauses and that the phrase ‘Book with confidence’ and all the other stuff there about we’re pretty good at all of this and we’re different from all the other websites … and we’ve got lots of happy campers and honeymooners and end of year, gap yearers, all of that is mere puff, you

say,” the company said in the tribunal.

“It’s a marketing ploy. We don’t actually expect people to believe the promises that we put there. And they need to accept that they’re hyperbole?”

However, the ACAT didn’t accept this and awarded a full refund to Mr Selby, plus filing costs.

Nicky Breen from consumer advocacy group Choice told the ABC that Wotif’s response was “not good enough”.

“Companies like Wotif that facilitate these third-party transactions — it’s not good enough for them to simply throw their hands up when things go wrong and say ‘hey, not our fault, we didn’t mean that, no refunds for you’,” she said.

“(Mr Selby) shouldn’t have had to go to court; the company should have done the right thing and given him a refund in the first place.”

News.com.au has approached Expedia for comment.