The Australian Travel Buyer’s Guide to Flight Refunds and Cancellations

Although Australians can’t pack their suitcases just yet, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced last Friday that international travel is set to return in November once states reach the 80 per cent vaccination target. And yes, while not all states are on board with the plan and the ever-evolving nature of the pandemic can derail this target date, we can at least start to get excited about going overseas to see loved ones or enjoy some much needed time off.

As for travel to and from New Zealand, the trans-Tasman bubble was put on hold on August 18 as a result of a COVID outbreak in Auckland.

Before jumping online to book flights for your post-pandemic trip, it’s vital to know what you’re entitled to as a consumer and how to prepare for a holiday in the COVID era. In terms of flights, most airlines have been granting refunds or credits to those whose travel plans have been impacted by COVID-19. However, if you’re seeking a refund on non-refundable flights, there’s little you can do to get your money back.

Where you can, book refundable flights and ensure you have COVID-19 specific travel insurance to cover medical, quarantine and cancellation costs should you or those you’re travelling with test positive. If your trip is organised by a travel service provider, they will be your first port of call if things don’t go to plan. Otherwise, airfare changes, credits and refund requests can typically be lodged online or alternatively through the airline’s customer service line.

When borders do start to open, international travel to and from Australia will likely see pre-flight Covid testing and a week of home quarantine for fully vaccinated travellers coming into the country. Masks are mandatory on flights.

Under the Qantas Fly Flexible scheme, you can book flights with unlimited fee-free date changes, although a fare difference may apply. You can also request a flight credit and rebook when you’re ready. The Fly Flexible offerings apply to domestic and Trans-Tasman flights up to February 28, 2022.

If you need to cancel or change bookings made from October 1 2021, you can request a flight credit from Qantas which is valid for 12 months from your original booking date – however, a change or cancellation fee may apply.

Qantas has also announced that international flights to London and Los Angeles would return from November 14 while Qantas’ international network is scheduled to open up from April 2022.

Image: Qantas 747 | Source: Qantas Australia

Virgin Australia is also offering flexible flights with no cancellation fees on both domestic and international flights up to February 28 2022. You can also make unlimited flight changes for free. If you’re after a refund for Virgin flights that you’ve cancelled, only Business fares are eligible for a refund to both the original form of payment or Travel Bank. The Flex fare offers refunds to the original form of payment with an A$80 fee.

Image: Virgin Australia | Source: Virgin Australia Facebook

As part of Jetstar’s Fly Flexible campaign, bookings made between September 17 and December 31 can be rescheduled for free, excluding fare differences. This offer applies to international and domestic flights up until June 30 2023. Jetstar’s FareCredit option allows you to cancel your booking and get a credit voucher for the value of your fare.

You can also opt to buy FareCredit which allows you to cancel your booking for any reason and get a voucher for the value of your fare. As for border restrictions, Jetstar has announced on its website that you will always be eligible for a credit voucher for the full value of your flight booking if your domestic or international flight is cancelled or affected by COVID-19 related border closures or restrictions. Jetstar also states on their site that cash refunds may also be available depending on the circumstances around the request.

Image: Jetstar | Source: Jetstar Australia Facebook

Air New Zealand offers an opt-in credit option for international flights due to depart before February 28, 2022. For credits received after July 1 2021, you have 12 months to book a new flight and a further 12 months to travel.

A review of quarantine-free travel from Australia to New Zealand beyond November 2021 is still pending while the trans-Tasman bubble remains under suspension.

Image: Air New Zealand | Source: Air New Zealand Facebook

Emirates has extended the validity of tickets by up to 36 months for flights booked before April 1 2021 for travel on or before May 31 2022. Emirates also states that these ticket holders can also request a refund.

As for tickets issued beyond April 1 2021, Emirates offers the ability to change your flight dates, fee-free, within 24 months in addition to requesting a refund.

Image: Emirates | Source: Emirates Facebook

If you are after some travel inspiration and the best places to visit once borders open for international routes you will enjoy our coverage of Uncovering the Must-See Scenes of the French Riviera, The Best New Attractions in Dubai to Add to Your Travel Itinerary, Blue Amber: The Newest Tropical Resort in East Africa and The World’s Best Beach Clubs: Here’s Where the Super-Rich Spend their Summer.

This article originally appeared on Fancy

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