Ready to begin the five hour flight from Sydney to Perth, Clare Vertannes had her Apple Airpods and noise-cancelling headphones on when she was approached by a Jetstar flight attendant.
At first, the actress and events co-ordinator thought she was being upgraded to first class.
Unfortunately, the reality was less desirable.
“I was sitting there minding my own business, and then she was like: ‘Can you please come with me?’” Ms Vertannes told news.com.au, speaking of the flight she took in April 2022.
“I was getting really excited because it genuinely didn’t cross my mind [that I was about to get kicked off the plane]. It’s wasn’t until we walked off the plane, that I started asking questions.”
‘A very dangerous item’
Once her and the flight attendant were on the tarmac, the Perth woman was informed that staff had found a “very dangerous item” – a battery pack – in her checked luggage.
While portable chargers containing a lithium ion battery are banned from check-in baggage, Ms Vertannes was certain she had not packed hers in her suitcase.
“I held up my battery pack and told them I didn’t have a second one,” she said.
“The flight attendants that kicked me off the plane were really rude. I understand they have jobs to do but they didn’t even give me the time of day to explain.
“I asked them to call someone to confirm because there was nothing in my suitcase but I was told to go to baggage claim.”
At the same time she was told she would miss her existing flight and she’d have to pay for her next one.
She claims the flight attendant told her she wouldn’t be reimbursed “because you’ve held up everyone on the current flight”.
On her way to baggage claim, Ms Vertannes began crying.
“It was like I was going to the principal’s office. It was so terrible,” she said.
However, she remembers the surreal moment when she realised the airport had made a terrible mistake. As she was walking to the baggage claim, she claims to have overheard a staff member on the phone.
“She was like: ‘Why would she do that? What’s wrong with you people? I told you to wait for confirmation,’” said Ms Vertannes.
“She then saw us walking towards her she just stops and says into the phone: ‘I think the lady you’ve kicked off is in front of me and she is not impressed.’”
A missed flight and a miscommunication
That’s when she was told that there had been “a miscommunication”. While airport staff had initially found something dangerous in her bag, it turned out to be a false alarm.
“There was nothing in my suitcase. I was actually hoping that there had been something wrong with my luggage, especially after all this drama,” joked Ms Vertannes.
“I said look: ‘Thank you for your apology but I need to get home. Can I get back on my flight now?’”.
However, in the time Ms Vertannes had reported to baggage claim, her original flight had taken off. She was then told the next flight wouldn’t be until tomorrow.
While Ms Vertannes said the airline initially refused to pay for another flight that day, she was determined to return to Perth.
“I literally just sat there and stared at her. I know the airport staff was doing their best but I knew that nothing was going to get done unless I just sat there,” she said.
After “an hour or two”, she was approached by a Qantas staff member, who are the parent company for Jetstar. In another twist of events, she had been offered a flight for that day free of charge, however it was scheduled for 8pm, which at that point was around eight hours away.
Looking back at her airport debacle, Ms Vertannes said she was surprised by the lack of services given to her by the airlines.
In a statement to news.com.au, Jetsar says they “sincerely apologise for any misunderstanding and are looking into what took place”.
Much to be desired
Despite the “miscommunication,” she claims she was told she was unable to check in her luggage early. While she decided to meet up with her boyfriend back in the Sydney CBD, she was told that she would have had to pay $50 to store her luggage at the airport.
Another blow came as she was sitting in her Qantas seat.
“I’m sitting on the Qantas flight and I get an email from Jetstar. It says: ‘thank you so much for your purchase of a pie. That’s $10,’” she said.
“Someone on my flight had charged a pie to my seat and I got that invoice. I was done.
“I remember getting that on the flight and not even being surprised.”
The experience left much to be desired.
Now, in the four months from the ill-fated flight, Ms Vertannes says she’s finally ready to talk about her it.
“When I got back I genuinely needed to recover from the trauma,” she said.
Sharing her experience on TikTok, Ms Vertannes amassed more than 67,100 views, 5100 likes and 285 comments.
Despite this, she hasn’t been thrilled with the airline’s response.
“The flight really upset me. It had an effect on my mental health and it was really stressful. [I asked for] two return flights to a destination around Australia,” she said
“I wanted some form of compensation and I thought I was being quite reasonable.”
To date, in documents seen by news.com.au, Ms Vertannes has been given a $116.22 cash refund and a $350.76 voucher which Jetstar says aligns with the purchase methods used to buy her flight from Jetstar to Qantas.
Later, when she tried to get reimbursed for the $50 taxi fare into the city, she was told they were “unable to provide you any compensation nor cover your out of pocket expenses”.
“I kept on being in all these phone calls but everything just got too annoying so I took the voucher,” she said.
“But all I wanted was just some compensation and to not be left on the phone for two hours. It’s not that hard.”