COVID-19 can throw a spanner in the works of a much-anticipated trip with a moment’s notice. If booking an upcoming trip, read the fine print and know your rights when it comes to the cancellation and refund policies of the travel companies you are booking with.
A good source of advice is the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). Check out its consumer rights page for information on cancellations due to Covid restrictions. It advises consumers to check the terms of the ticket purchased, as this will dictate what remedy is offered. This may include a re-booking, a voucher or a full refund. It also warns that if you decide not to travel because of concerns around Covid, this may be treated as a ‘change of mind’, and subject to different treatment.
Flight cancellation policies
Airlines are handling flight cancellations in different ways. For example, if Qantas cancels a flight due to Covid, it offers travellers the option of a re-booking, flight credit or refund. Whereas Jetstar only guarantees a credit voucher if a flight is cancelled or affected by a border closure. Although other remedies may also be available. Check the airlines’ websites for the specifics.
Cruise cancellation policies
Cruise companies have been hit hard by the pandemic and many have updated their policies to offer customers more financial certainty. For example, APT is offering a ‘future holiday credit’ for all suspended tours and cruises, valid up to 2023. This is not redeemable for cash but it can be transferred to another person.
If you’ve got a booking coming up, check the policies of your cruise line to find out what your options are.
Travel agent cancellation policies
If you booked through a travel agent or an online booking site, contact them first to determine who processes the cancellation – them or the airline, for instance. And don’t be surprised if you get slugged with a cancellation fee. Consumer advocate Choice advises consumers to check their terms and conditions, while remembering that these organisations are still subject to the Australia Consumer Law.