As we all begin a new era in working from home, I guess we have all been wondering how all the grounded flight attendants are working from home.
Comedian and musician Wes Barker and his wife Kirsten, have filmed a comedy sketch of her adjusting to working from home while isolated due to the coronavirus lock down to stop us wondering just how it’s done!
As the “hostess with the mostest”, she helpfully offers everything from hot towns and duty free, ensures his safety while explaining safety exits and reinforces laptop stowage regulations.
Watch below - the result is comedic gold!
Flightradar24 images of Australia demonstrate the chilling way the covid-19 pandemic has impacted the Aussie life to a halt.
New images from FlightRadar24 shows almost empty skies over the country that have ban or stopped air travel and all of the Australian airlines have grounded almost their entire fleets. The airline industry has been one of the worst-hit sectors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Below picture: Flights seen over Australia 2019 - Imgae from Flightradar24
Below picture: Image taken 1 April 20 - Flightradar24
It’s a very similar story around the world. FlightRadar24 says the decline in global air traffic is “unprecedented”, with commercial air traffic plummeting 41 per cent below 2019 levels in the last two weeks of March. Pre our current global crisis, there were up to 20,000 planes flying around the sky and on the 1st March there were 14,629 flights at 3pm, 1 month later and there were only 5,632 flights at 3pm.
While some airlines continue to operate commercial flights to keep vital links open and return travellers to their home countries, many of the planes seen in plane tracking images are cargo planes carrying essential supplies such as food and medical equipment.
Cargo handling at London’s Heathrow Airport has actually doubled this week, BBC reported. And the lockdowns and closures have also made international flying logistically challenging. The United Arab Emirates is in the midst of a 14-day blanket ban on flights, meaning popular transit hubs at Dubai and Abu Dhabi, relied on by many of the world’s major airlines for long-haul routes, can no longer be used for commercial flights.
Air traffic took another massive hit when India announced a lockdown of its entire population of 1.3 billion people. Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the world’s largest lockdown on 24 March, asking 1.3 billion Indians to stay home for 21 days to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, global airlines are dealing with the new challenge of what to do with massive fleets scattered and grounded around the world. Airlines are scrambling for parking everywhere, which adds expenses on top of what they’re losing by not flying.
Virgin Australia and Qantas have put forward cases for federal government bailouts to keep them afloat during the coronavirus crisis. The Australian government has announced a $715M Bailout for the airlines however Virgin Australia is seeking $1.4Billion while Qantas is saying they want $4.2Billion. The Federal Government will have to go back to the table and review the already committed $715M in relief for the airline industry.
Interesting times to come.
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With around 800 different commercial airlines flying globally, one of the most popular questions from our travel community is “Can I get a refund on my flight?”
Whether or not you can get credit vouchers or refunds varies between airlines and depends on the fare you bought.
Firstly, it’s important to understand that airline tickets can be booked in different seat classes and come with different Condition of Carriage (aka “rules” to the rest of us), so ask yourself these questions-
Did I book a Refundable Ticket?
Usually the more you pay for your airline ticket, the more flexibility it offers in coming to changes and refunds. Check your original terms and conditions as you may be pleasantly surprised to find your ticket has a refundable option, even without any coronavirus restrictions.
Often refundable tickets won’t automatically give you a full refund on the entire amount you have paid and most have a refund fee that is charged by the airline that can be up to a few hundred dollars on international tickets.
Credit card fees and some carrier imposed surcharges and taxes are not usually refunded.
Domestic Flights within Australia
For flights due to departure by 30 June 2020, you can rebook or claim a credit voucher, regardless of the type of ticket you bought. Virgin will waive cancellation and change fees, but you’ll need to pay the fare difference if your booking class is not available on the date you wish to rebook.
For flights departing after 30 June 2020, if you wish to cancel, normal fare rules and cancellation fees apply to your booking. You can see the Virgin Fare Rules here.
Speak with your agent, or you can manage your booking options through the Virgin website here
If your flight has been cancelled, Qantas or your Travel Agent will call you directly to run through your flight credit or refund options. The airline is offering refunds to some customers on flights that they have already cancelled.
If you have a Qantas ticket booked for travel before 31 July 2020, you can receive a flight credit valid for booking and travel by 31 December 2021 and any change fees will be waived. You have until 30 April 2020 to take up this offer and an action it directly online at their Manage my Booking site.
However, we would expect if government warnings are extended, Qantas will also extend an offer of credit to coincide. Currently if you are travelling past 31 July 2020 and you wish to change your flights, normal change and cancellation fees will apply. So unless you are nearing a higher cancellation fee date, we recommend you do not change your tickets until announcements are made close to your time of travel that may see you offer full credits instead of paying for cancellation fees.
If you are due to travel on a Classic Reward Flight using Qantas Frequent Flyer Points before 31 July 2020, you can cancel and get a full refund of points, as well as any taxes, fees and carrier charges refunded.
Currently Jetstar are offering a credit voucher on all travel, domestic and international, that is currently booked until 31 July 2020. You have until 30 April 2020 to accept this credit towards your next trip. The voucher has to be used in one booking (i.e. you can’t have booked a $1000 Bali trip and now use it on 5 x $200 domestic trips) and if the airfare has increased on your next booking, you will be required to be the fare difference. You can read all their updated terms and conditions on Jetstar’s Compensation Page.
How are International Airfares Different?
International airfares can be extremely complex with complicated taxes, fuel surcharges and other costs involved.
Each airfare consists of a base airfare and extras. You will need to check if the price you have paid for additional amenities such as seating preferences, meals and increased baggage allowance are offered within the flight credit or refund policy. Note only do they differ by carrier, but carriers are updating their policies daily.
Every international airline differs in their cancellation policies. Many, such as Emirates, are offering future travel credits for use up to 24 months. Some are allowing a change of destination, some are not. Some are allowing a routing change, while others are enforcing the same route on your new flight.
Extra bonuses can also be available. For example, Etihad are also offering Bonus Miles to frequent flyers on changed booking.
Will my Insurance Cover the Loss?
Pandemic clauses written into most insurance policies mean travellers will more than likely not be covered for the cost of cancelled flights or accommodation, transfers or any other combinations. Before taking any action, it is always a good idea to check through your policy or check with your insurance provider to see if they are offer any assistance.
There are 2 clauses that may help with insurance refunds. Considering the Federal Government's new Level 4 restrictions on international and domestic travel, some insurance companies are covering cancellations. Also, if you have insurance such as Covermore’s “Cancel for Any Reason” policy, you may be able to claim up to 75% of the non-refundable portion of your travel, up to a maximum of $10,000.
However, if you have paid for your travel with a credit card, you may check with your credit card provider if they will offer a refund due to the service/product not being actualised.
It's clear to see our Australian carriers are implementing as many cost cutting activities as possible in order to reduce expenses and keep flying with today’s announcement that both Qantas and Virgin will cut inflight meals, drinks, Wi-Fi and entertainment. Both carriers are in talks with the government to offer financial aid, which can only benefit long term travel in Australia. Nobody wants to see the return of the monopolistic market of the pre-1990 unregulated airline industry in Australia. It’s clear that the more travellers that accept a flight voucher option, will benefit the whole country and our airline options long term.
If you do have concerns about your specific flight, contact your Travel Agent who made the booking or the airline directly and they can run through the options available to you.
For the most up to date terms and conditions on your airline ticket, click through on the below airlines:
Air New Zealand
All Nippon Airways American Airlines
Cathay Pacific Airways
China Eastern Airlines
Delta Air Lines
South African Airways
It great to talk about a new product within the airline industry that everybody can take advantage of, even when the planes are not in the sky. This week Qantas has launched its new points program, Qantas Points Club and it’s aimed at frequent spenders instead of frequent travellers.
Qantas Points Club vs Qantas Points Club Plus
There are two tiers, Points Club & Points Club Plus. To earn Points Club membership, you just need to be a Qantas Frequent Flyer members and earn a total of 150,000 Qantas points on non-flying earning partners (think credit cards, shopping, petrol etc) and to reach the higher Points Club Plus, you’ll need 350,000 points.
If you earn that 350,000 on a credit card that offered 2 Qantas Points per $1 spent, you'd have to spend $14,583 on eligible purchases on the card each month to get the Points Club Plus status. Searching for a credit card sign-up bonus will certainly make it more attainable.
You an also earn 20,000 Qantas Points each year from flying.
All Qantas Frequent Flyers members – Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum and Platinum One – are automatically eligible for Points Club or Points Club Plus once they reach the necessary points threshold, and will be informed via email and through the Qantas app.
What Rewards are There?
The most exciting thing is that there are rewards that previously only high frequent flyers earned, now available to Point Club members. Qantas are offering benefits such as Qantas Lounge Invitation, and even the ability to earn Status Credits on Classic Flight Rewards, as well as bonus points with Qantas Hotels.
We’ve outlined below the benefits of each of the tiers:
Free Qantas Club Membership
For the Point Club Plus, the offer of a free Qantas Club Membership (valued at $939 in your first year) and the Status Credits rollover are pretty substantial as the ability to roll up to 100 Status Credits into your next year will give you a great head start in reaching the higher membership tiers.
Earn Status Credits on Classic Reward Flights
This is an incredible benefit and the first time that Qantas ever let you earn Status Credits on a reward redemption flight. But it’s certainly worth earning the 350,000 points. For non flyers, this means an allegiance to Qantas can now give you additional benefits with more Status Credits such as a better choice of seats and reward flights, even if you aren’t a frequent flyer.
There are also great offers like 9 points for $1 with Qantas Hotels, which is especially good if it’s a hotel chain where you may not hold a status benefit with them, it will give an added benefit to you.
Other Qantas Points Club Benefits
Most of the other Points Club benefits are geared towards other ventures of the Qantas Loyalty division, such as:
Our Tips and Tricks on Qantas Club Benefits
As the news changes every hour the situation for our international and domestic airports is at a near standstill. Travellers trying to get to their destinations are posting some unique pictures of normally bustling airports that are now eerily empty.
While most travellers are scrambling to get on the remaining flights before borders and countries close, others are taking the opportunity to capture some unique pictures. It's not often you have an entire check in terminal to yourself and a unique opportunity to appreciate stillness at an international hub.
We'd love you to share with us any of your travelling photos. Feel free to add to our comments section.