Qantas, Virgin, Jetstar and Tigerair NO REFUND Policy Under Question

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It is an industry-wide practice that airlines in Australia do not offer refunds to passengers when they change their mind- especially when the fare is bought during a sale. However, a fully flexible fare – which usually costs 2 to 3 times more – gives you the flexibility to change the dates with the charges waived but you will still be subjected to the fare difference, if any.

​Lately, consumer advocacy group, Choice is urging Australian Competition and Consumer Competition (ACCC) to look into Qantas, Virgin, Jetstar and Tigerair’s cancellation policy on:

 

1. excessive cancellation fees of up to $550 per ticket,

2. widespread use of “no refund” signs, 

3. a lack of compensation for the airlines’ mistakes when there’s a delay or cancellation – “a take it or leave it attitude”,

4. no access to credit and (see my footnote)

5. Ticket voids on all legs of the journey when there is no-show on any leg.

Choice’s basic argument was,

“Under the Australian Consumer Law, you have a right to a refund no matter how many times an airline lands you with a ‘no refund’ message as you make your way through an online checkout.”

and Choice also points out that,

“Other issues included difficulties making changes to bookings, claiming a refund and excessive cancellation or change fees.”

Choice adds that consumers do not have enough time to adequately read out the terms and conditions stipulated by the airlines. For instance, the booking page on Qantas’ website times out after 10 minutes but the entire document will probably take an average person nearly 45 minutes to read through. Choice argues that this is clearly not in line with ACCC guidelines where terms and conditions for online bookings must be

“easily available and identifiable.”

But who on earth reads that Terms and Conditions anyway? I don’t… and even if I do, I will just have to go through the entire process of booking the flights again after time out. 

In any case, ACCC Chairman Rod Sims has agreed to an investigation on the four carriers for any potential breaches of consumer guarantees or unfair contract terms.

Hopefully, we can look forward to some good news in the near future… but for now, this was what I experienced.

In June this year, I bought a promotional fare from Melbourne to Singapore return for about $600. The ticket was not to be utilised until 6 weeks later. However, due to some unforeseen changes, I had to delay my return flight from Singapore to Melbourne. I called Qantas hotline regarding this and explained that my flight was not until 2 months later anyway. But I was told that there was no way they could change my dates. Even if they could, I would end up paying more than buying another one-way ticket advertised on that day from Singapore to Melbourne. So I ended up buying another one-way ticket and Qantas credited the unused portion of the ticket (nearly $200) to me but with a few caveats…

 

1. I can only be re-booked on the same route over the telephone and pay a telephone service charge of $80.

2. I can only be re-booked on the same ‘promotional fare AND class’. If that is (even) available.

 

What are the chances of me finding a ‘promotional fare’ on the same ‘booking class’? The answer is: probably next to ZERO?!

In short, I would still be better off NOT claiming the credit. It is next to impossible to find the same exact promotion.

#qantas please see point 4 above.