August 31, 2023

Qantas to scrap COVID-19 refund expiry date

By Amelia McGuire
August 31, 2023 — 9.32am
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Qantas Airways will scrap the expiry date on flight refunds for those whose travel plans were disrupted due to the border closures during COVID-19, facing public pressure which culminated at a Senate hearing into the cost of living on Monday.

All Qantas customers who had their flights cancelled by the airline due to a COVID-19 lockdown up until October 2021 will now be able to request a refund indefinitely, multiple aviation sources who were not authorised to speak publicly told this masthead.

Qantas will repal the expiry date on refunds for passengers disrupted during COVID-19. Credit: Fairfax Media

Passengers were previously eligible for a refund until December 2024. Those who have already obtained flight credits from the company still have until the end of this year to book a flight. Those who are eligible for a refund from Jetstar will also be able to use them indefinitely. Customers who booked flights through a travel agent can also get a refund.

This is the fourth time the company has amended its COVID-19 refund and flight credit policy in an attempt to lower the multi-million dollar balance owed to customers. Qantas is currently facing a class action on behalf of disrupted passengers who allege they have been unable to be compensated.

There is still around $370 million its main airline Qantas is yet to refund or exchange, and, as revealed by Jetstar boss Steph Tully after a hostile exchange with Senator Tony Sheldon at the hearing this week, the budget arm is sitting on another $100 million. There is also an undeclared amount in overseas bookings. Sources close to Qantas say that amount ranges between $50 million and $100 million.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission launched a Federal Court case against the airline group on Thursday, alleging it had falsely advertised more than 8000 flights it had already cancelled.

The consumer watchdog said that Qantas kept selling tickets on its website for an average of more than two weeks, and in some cases for up to 47 days, after the cancellation of the those flights, which were scheduled to depart between May and July 2022.

More to come.

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Amelia McGuire is the aviation, tourism and gaming reporter at The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.Connect via Twitter or email.
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