Travel Agents

Flight Centre accused of underpaying staff, ‘ripping off’ customers and ‘cult-like’ work culture

Flight Centre is under fire after an ABC investigation has raised questions about the way agents are paid and its ‘cult-like’ work culture.

Through talking to dozens of existing and former staff members, ABC Investigations has found that Flight Centre agents are encouraged to mark up some flights from anywhere between $30 to hundreds, even thousands of dollars.

“Say the flight was $1500 — they would mark-up and say ‘oh the flight is $1800’. Or if it’s a huge business class flight they would mark up a couple of thousand,” Olivia Little, an ex-Flight Centre employee told the ABC

The retail travel giant is also being accused of motivating their staff to add these markups with “low and confusing” methods of paying their staff.

The ABC’s report put agents’ base wage at $33,500, which is almost $4000 lower than the minimum wage.

However, it is also mentioned that if staff fail to make enough commission over a month, Flight Centre will top up their pay to bring them in line with minnimum wage.

A Flight Centre spokesman told Travel Weekly that the agency strongly denied the allegations the ABC put to them.

“It’s disappointing that these allegations have been aired publicly but it has also highlighted the need to move to a simpler and easier to understand pay model, which is what we are doing currently via an Enterprise Bargaining Agreement,” the spokesperson said

“The EBA is reliant on us ensuring that our people are better off overall and we have already made this commitment to them.”

Flight Centre has also denied “excessive marking-up”, stating that a central team in Australia proactively monitors margins on individual transactions and action is taken if the margin earned is considered excessive.

“As outlined in our philosophies, we strongly believe in a fair margin and we monitor this proactively,” the spokesperson said .

The report also slammed Flight Centre’s “boozy ‘buzz nights'”, calling them a “pay-off for the long hours and low pay”.

Little told the ABC that employees are required to attend monthly events in pubs or restaurants to celebrate those who have hit sales targets.

She said it was also a chance for new starters to be introduced to the group.

“In my area, when you were introduced, you either had to tell a joke, tell a funny story — which usually had to be quite dirty — or you had to flash. Not men, women,” she said.

“You’d have men in the back row howling like fools.”

Flight Centre told the ABC it was not aware of these allegations and have not received any complaints of this nature.

“This would be completely unacceptable and immediate action would be taken.”

The investigation also took aim at Flight Centre’s annual Global Gathering, labelling it as a ‘carrot’ for staff throughout the year.

“We believe we have a very strong and positive culture, which is generally celebrated and has in fact led to us winning a number of awards,” the Flight Centre spokesperson told Travel Weekly.

“Many of these awards are based on our people’s feedback.”


Do you have something to say about this? Get in touch with Travel Weekly Editor Ali Coulton at alexandra@travelweekly.com.au

SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

  • XFLIGHTY03

    This has been going on for 20+ years! You had to mark up high because the pressure to hit your cost of seat and monthly target was so high you’d lose your job if your performance was below standard. I’d see consultants at buzz nights drowning their sorrows when failing to achieve and felt like they were in the outta. It was a viscous circle..because the pressure the following month was then much higher.

    I got out because the flirty culture and ‘single social circle’ nearly cost me my marriage.

    But let’s be real here..most sales roles have similar expectations..higher commissions..more bonuses….more accolades.

Wholesalers

AAT Kings follows up Brolga Awards win with Tiwi Clean Up

AAT Kings have won an award AND helped clean up an island! Meanwhile, we’ve discovered that if we leave the door open when we order pizza, we don’t have to get out of bed.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

All the best pictures from the Helloworld Frontliners gala awards

Helloworld’s night of nights took place over the weekend! Get all the goss and photos right here.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Channel 7’s Sunrise brings the best of South Africa to Aussie homes.

We can’t remember the last time we were up early enough to catch a morning breakfast show, but for this, we might be willing to make an exception.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Big Fat Airline Wrap

Our favourite thing about Tuesdays? This airline wrap! Oh, and the fact that it’s no longer Monday anymore. But that goes for the rest of the week too.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

Baby Boomers are spending their kids inheritance on cruising

Looks like we’re going to have to give up our avo on toast and daily iced lattes because our folks just booked a year-long expedition.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

Watch: The women’s cooperative tackling unemployment in Jordan

Just in case you need more evidence of the transformative power of travel, the TreadRight Foundation has released a video about their work with the Iraq al-Amir Women’s Cooperative.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

PICTURES: Crystal Serenity gets swanky make-over

We asked our boss if we could take four weeks off for a makeover like this ship did but he just laughed and walked away. We’re taking it as a maybe.

Share

CommentComments

Wholesalers

Big Fat Wholesaler Wrap

As the weather gets warmer, what better way is there to spend the days than in the office air con? Besides reading up on all the latest news from your wholesaler friends, that is.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Christmas getaway inspo: The 7 most exotic destinations

Fancy forgoing the backyard barbie and archaic family gathering (see also: bickering) this year? Here are some alternative options. Please take us with you?

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

Instagrammer denied entry to the Louvre for “revealing” dress

If it makes her feel any better, Travel Weekly was also kicked out of the iconic gallery because apparently you can’t “just drink wine anywhere” and they have “standards”.

Share

CommentComments

Wholesalers

Kicking goals: Intrepid takes home two trophies at Responsible Tourism Awards

The adventure travel company also received praise from Aussie heartthrob, Tim Robards, who ran into their CEO on a flight.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

Carnival Australia ships to provide extra accommodation for APEC summit

As world leaders descend on Papua New Guinea, Carnival is preparing its ships to house around 4,000 delegates who are in for quite the stay, if you ask us.

Share

CommentComments