Need to know
- The major Australian airlines may offer credit vouchers or rebookings – 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.
Domestic and international travel is now on many of our schedules, but so is COVID-19. Rebookings and credit vouchers may be offered for cancelled flights, and cash refunds may be available if you ask.
Flexible flying is still available for international travel but if you want flexible tickets for domestic travel you'll need to upgrade your ticket selection when you purchase your flight.
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 few 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.
Can you change airline credit for cash?
Full service airlines like Qantas offer cash refunds if they've cancelled a flight. But many people may have opted for a credit voucher without knowing this. The ACCC said it received hundreds of complaints from people in this situation, and that in a lot of Qantas' communications, people weren't informed about their right to a refund.
If you elected to receive a credit from your airline when you were entitled to a cash refund, you should contact your airline and ask them to give you a refund instead.
Below are the refund and rebooking conditions for the major Australian airlines.
Can you get a refund on Qantas flights?
If Qantas cancel your flight, they'll contact you to rebook you on the next available flight, or you can choose a credit or refund. Qantas advises their current processing time for refunds is eight weeks.
CHOICE still receive reports of long call wait times. You could be on the phone for a few hours if you call them, so only contact them if you haven't heard from them within a few days of your departure date, and be prepared to quote the Qantas' conditions of carriage to claim a refund.
Claiming a credit voucher for non-cancelled Qantas flights
- Unlimited fee-free date changes are available for international flights, including flights to New Zealand, booked by 30 June 2022 for travel until 31 December 2022. New travel dates need to be within 12 months of your original booking date, and you'll need to pay for any fare increase.
- 'Fly flexible' date changes on standard tickets for domestic flights finished on 30 April 2022. However Qantas advises that if you test positive to COVID-19 or are a close contact in the week before you fly, you can change your travel dates without a fee. You'll need to contact Qantas or your travel agent to change the booking.
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 Virgin also say they can't refund cancelled flights for bookings made on or before 20 April 2020, when the company entered voluntary administration. These passengers can instead claim a Future Flight Credit.
Rebooking Virgin flights
- International flights booked before 30 June 2022 have unlimited changes without fees for travel up until 31 December 2022. The change needs to be made before your travel date, and if the new fare is higher, you'll have to pay more.
- Flexible flying for domestic flights on standard fares finished on 30 April 2022. However, if in the week before you travel, you test positive to COVID-19, are a close contact, or are required to isolate, you can change the date of your travel without incuring a change fee. You may have to pay more for higher fares.
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. If Jetstar cancel flights for reasons within their control and they're not able to provide you an alternative, cash refunds are available.
Credit vouchers for cancelled Jetstar flights
- If your flight is cancelled, Jetstar advise they'll let you know and provide you with options. The options include rebooking and credit vouchers, or a refund depending on the circumstances of the cancellation.
- If you're unable to travel due to border closures or lockdowns, you're eligible for a credit voucher.
Rebooking non-cancelled Jetstar flights
- Under Jetstar's Fly Flexible policy, fee free flight changes are available for international flights booked by 30 June 2022, for travel before 31 August 2023. You'll need to cover any fare difference for a new booking.
- The Fly Flexible policy for domestic flights finished on 30 April 2022. Under Jetstar's 'Fly Well' policy, if in the week before you travel you have COVID-19 symptoms, test positive to COVID-19, or you are a close contact they advise you to defer your flight. Contact Jetstar via their LIve Chat on their website to discuss your options to defer travel.
Tigerair flights grounded
Tigerair Australia is not flying, and Virgin Australia Group have discontinued the brand.
Claiming a credit voucher for Tigerair flights
- Tigerair customers will be provided with a travel credit for use on Virgin Australia flights.
- Unused credits will be replaced with future flight credits that can be used for booking flights up until 31 July 2022 for travel until 30 June 2023.
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.