Prime Minister Scott Morrison may have spelt out a four-point pathway to international travel on Friday, but any hope of taking off from Australia is still many months away.
There are lockdowns everywhere this weekend and high-level restrictions imposed all around the country.
This has once again left many Australians either dealing with cancelled holiday plans or feeling extremely cautious to book any future trips, with the Delta variant providing yet another example of just how quickly things can change.
This guide will take you through the COVID and cancellation policies of the major airlines and accommodation providers, as well as well some quick tips for whether travel insurance is necessary and what it might cover.
How can I cancel and change my flights?
Australia’s major airline’s policies are as follows.
Virgin have a ‘flexible flying’ policy to help customers book while COVID is affecting the travel landscape.
Any travel booked before February 28, 2022, will have unlimited changes permitted with no change fees and the option to cancel and receive flight credit without incurring a change fee.
However, if Virgin themselves have to move or change the timing of your flight, you will be entitled to a full refund.
The full breakdown of the flexible flying policy can be found here.
Qantas has a ‘fly flexible’ policy to help Australian’s book travel during COVID.
For any domestic flights booked up till July 31 you can change the dates and times of your travel as many times as you need without incurring a change fee. However, the new date will need to be within 12 months of the original date.
If you need to cancel your flight, you can cancel and request flight credit, however, you may be charged a cancellation fee. A cancellation fee is generally $99.
If Qantas cancels on you, you will have the option between rebooking, flight credit and a refund.
Full details of Fly flexible can be found here.
If your Jetstar booking is “affected by border restrictions,” you’ll be eligible to receive a credit voucher for the full value of your booking.
“Affected by border restrictions” has some listed criteria here, but essentially it’s just going to mean if you are completely unable to travel because of government enforced restrictions.
If you want extra peace of mind, you can purchase a product called FareCredit, this will allow you to cancel your flight for any reason and automatically receive a flight credit voucher.
If the flight is cancelled by Jetstar, you will receive either a free date change, option of a credit voucher or full refund depending on the circumstances of the cancellation.
Rex has a COVID refund guarantee, meaning you will be offered a full refund if your flight is affected by COVID related reasons. You simply go here and fill out a refund request and ensure you have all supporting documentation.
Even if Rex is still operating normally, as long as you are unable to get on the flight due to COVID-related reasons, you will be eligible for the refund.
If you are already covered by travel insurance, Rex will only cover you for the losses that are not already under your insurance.
How can I cancel or change my accommodation?
The general rule of accommodation is that it’s going to come down to the individual policy of who you’ve booked with, however, here are the policies of some of the major providers.
Airbnb previously had a cancellation policy in place to protect you from COVID, however, as it has eased in Australia it is no longer considered an ‘extenuating circumstance’.
This means that the cancellation policy is simply up to the host of your booking.
You can read the different cancellation policies that guests can set here, however, it will vary booking to booking what applies to you.
Generally, if you cancel, it will depend on the individual policy of your booking as to whether or not you incur a cancellation fee.
However, you can potentially be able to cancel related to COVID and receive a full refund, date change or credit. This will depend on your destination, booking and departure dates, country of origin and reason for travel.
You will need to sign in to your account to assess your cancellation options.
Do I need travel insurance and what will it cover?
Every insurer has different policies, so if you want to book domestic travel insurance, the most important thing you can do is read the fine print.
However, it is unlikely that most insurance policies will cover all COVID related circumstances, especially as part of the general insurance policy and not a specific add on.
If you’ve booked a trip with multiple flights, hotels and tours already paid for, then it may be worth looking into some insurance policies. However, it is also a viable option to simply check in individually with airlines, accommodation providers and tour operators to see what their COVID and cancellation policies are.
Many policies such as Travel Insurance Direct offer cover for if you or someone you know is diagnosed with COVID-19 but do not offer cover for government intervention such as border closures or new regulations.
The same applies to Medibank, who will cover many COVID related circumstances but will not cover any losses due to government travel bans or border closures.