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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