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Can you get a refund or a credit from your Australian airline?

Here’s what to do if your flight has been cancelled because of COVID-19.

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Last updated: 27 May 2020

Need to know

  • The major Australian airlines are offering credit vouchers – but with conditions
  • Qantas will give you a refund for cancelled flights, if you ask for one
  • Law firm Slater and Gordon are investigating whether the airlines have acted legally by offering credit vouchers

Australian airlines have all but shut down passenger flights while the COVID-19 coronavirus plays out. 

Rebookings and credit vouchers are being offered for cancelled flights or for people who just want to rebook. But can you get a cash refund if you want one?

Did you book online or with a travel agent?

If you booked through a travel agent or online booking site, you may need to process bookings or refunds through them – they should be able to tell you how to do this. 

If you're not flying in the next three days, it's better to wait and contact your airline closer to the departure date, or wait for them to contact you.

Can you get your money back from your airline?

Whether or not you can get credit vouchers or refunds varies between airlines and depends on the type of fare you bought. 

Read your airline conditions of carriage to find out if you're eligible. In fact, be prepared to quote these conditions back to the airline because they won't always offer you a refund if you don't ask.

Law firm Slater and Gordon are investigating the airline practise of offering credit vouchers instead of refunds. If you're dissatisfied with the remedy you received, read about the class action investigation.

Below are the refund and rebooking conditions for the major Australian airlines.

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Qantas

How long are Qantas flights grounded for?

Aside from a small number of flights for essential travel, domestic services and flights to New Zealand are suspended until 30 June 2020 and all other international flights are suspended until 31 July.

Claiming a credit voucher for non-cancelled Qantas flights 

  • For flights due to depart before 30 September 2020 you can claim a credit voucher that will be valid until 31 December 2021.
  • There are no fees to claim the credit, but you can use the voucher only for fares that are equal to or higher in value than the original fare you paid. For higher fares, you'll have to pay the difference.
  • You'll need to cancel your booking by 30 September 2020 to claim your credit voucher.

Can you get a refund on Qantas flights?

Qantas's conditions of carriage say they'll give you a refund if they cancel your flight and can't offer a suitable alternative – but you'll have to ask for the refund.

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Virgin

Virgin flights grounded

Virgin Australia Group (which includes Tigerair) has entered voluntary administration but continues to operate. It has cut its domestic capacity by 90% and suspended all international services until 14 June.

Claiming a credit voucher for non-cancelled Virgin flights

Virgin's website advises travel credits are still available as per the below conditions. However it has been reported that the administrators have temporarily paused issuing flight credits until court approval to resume the credit voucher scheme.

  • For domestic flights due to depart by 30 September 2020, you can rebook or claim a credit voucher. 
  • For international flights (excluding to and from the US) booked before 10 April 2020 and due to depart by 30 September 2020, you can rebook or claim a credit voucher. If you booked after 11 April, you change international flights due to depart by 1 March 2021.
  • For flights to and from the US booked before 18 March 2020 that are due to depart before 27 May 2021 you can rebook or claim a credit voucher.
  • Virgin will waive the cancellation or change fees, but you'll have to pay the difference for higher fares and associated taxes. For flights to and from the US, you only pay the fare difference if you choose a different class, or change the origin or destination.

Can you get a refund on Virgin flights?

Virgin's Guest Compensation Policy says that if they need to cancel your flight and can't offer you a suitable alternative, you can ask for a credit or refund. However it has been reported that in an affidivat filed with the federal court, Virgin's administrators have requested approval of a scheme that will allow flight credits to be issued, but not refunds.

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Jetstar

Jetstar flights grounded

Aside from a small number of flights for essential travel, domestic services and flights to New Zealand are suspended until 30 June 2020 and all other international flights are suspended until 31 July.

Claiming a credit voucher for cancelled Jetstar flights

If your flight is cancelled, Jetstar advise they'll let you know and provide you with options. A flight credit is likely to be one of those options, if they're unable to offer you an alternative booking.

Claiming a credit voucher for non-cancelled Jetstar flights 

  • The option to take up credit vouchers for non-cancelled flights (due to depart before 31 July) ended on 30 April 2020. 
  • If you're booking with a credit voucher, you'll need to do it within 12 months (i.e. that's how long the voucher is valid for) for a flight that departs within 12 months of the booking date.

Can you get a refund on Jetstar flights?

Jetstar's conditions of carriage say that for events beyond their control, if they're unable to put you on an alternative flight, they'll give you a flight credit – but they say nothing specifically about refunds.

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Tiger

Tiger flights grounded

All Tigerair Australia flights are suspended.

Can you get a refund on Tiger flights?

Tigerair's compensation policy says that for events outside their control, you can ask for credit equivalent to the total price you paid. The policy doesn't mention refunds.

Travel voucher class action

Law firm Slater and Gordon are investigating the legality of airlines and other tour operators offering credit vouchers instead of refunds. If you received a credit voucher instead of a cash refund, either directly from an airline or via a travel agent, you can register your interest in the Slater and Gordon investigation.

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