The ABC has taken a shot at The Flight Centre Travel Group, in an investigative report that claims the company ‘rips off its customers, underpays its staff and has a cult-like feel to it’.

In a one-sided damning article that went live on the ABC’s news website, the national broadcaster claims they have “spoken to dozens of current and former Flight Centre staff who said they were encouraged to mark up bookings by hundreds or at times thousands of dollars.”

Given marking up flights is standard practice across the entire retail travel industry, Flight Centre has hit back against the claims saying the practice is “not illegal and denies unnecessary price hiking is widespread among its more than 10,000 Australian staff.”

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The conditions of Flight Centre employees are also under the microscope in the report. According to the ABC, the current base wage for travel consultants in Flight Centre stores is $33,500 (Almost $4,000 below Australia’s minimum wage) with the rest of their salary made up from their commission. According to Flight Centre, this is currently being adjusted to between $41,000 and $44,000, depending on whether a consultant works in a store that opens on weekends.

Also criticised was the organisation’s ‘drinking culture’; from the mandatory ‘boozy buzz nights’ to the annual Global Gathering with the ABC noting that the worlds “cult-like” were often used in reviews from former Flight Centre employees on the employment review website Glassdoor.

The Flight Centre Travel Group’s careers page clearly states “We work hard and play hard. This means we’re not for everyone and we’re certainly not for the faint-hearted.”

A Flight Centre spokesperson added;

“People should never be pressured and should always be given a choice concerning alcohol consumption.”

In the light of the negative comments and the fact that Flight Centre employs 19,000 staff in 23 countries globally, Flight Centre has said the staff criticisms of the company laid out by the ABC simply “don’t reflect the majority’s feelings”.

Skroo Turner, FCTG CEO and Co-Founder

Skroo Turner, FCTG CEO and Co-Founder

In a direct letter sent to all staff today, Flight Centre Co-Founder and CEO, Graham ‘Skroo’ Turner said;

“It’s disappointing that these allegations, which in some cases appear to have been provided anonymously by our people, have been aired publicly but it has also highlighted the need to move to simpler and easier to understand the model, which we are doing with the EBA (Enterprise bargaining agreement). The EBA is reliant on us ensuring that our people are better off overall and we have already made this commitment to you.”

Skroo Turner, Flight Centre Travel Group CEO

You can read Skroo’s full letter to Flight Centre Travel Group staff here.

The ABC’s investigation into Flight Centre will air on ABC’s 7.30 Report tonight.

Are you a Flightie? What do you think of the ABC’s findings?