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Flight Centre refunds for cancelled flights

ailee

Newbie
Joined
Apr 2, 2020
Messages
6
Is anyone that has received a refund for a non-refundable flight able to provide me with a booking reference?Whether it be Singapore Airlines, Flight Centre or other travel agent booked. I'm stuck at a point where I can't seem to advance with either the travel agent or airlines. Any help is appreciated, thank you.
 

ailee

Newbie
Joined
Apr 2, 2020
Messages
6
The ACCC seems to be giving conflicting information here.

On the one hand they are saying that due to Covid-19 the normal right to refunds may not always be applicable. But they go on to say 'unless otherwise in the terms of your contract'
  • If your travel is cancelled the ACCC expects that you will receive a refund or other remedy, such as a credit note or voucher, in most circumstances.
  • However, if your travel is cancelled due to government restrictions, this impacts your rights under the consumer guarantees.
  • You may still be entitled to a refund under the terms and conditions of your ticket.
  • You should contact the business directly to request a refund or other remedy such as a credit note or voucher.
  • The ACCC encourages all businesses to treat consumers fairly in these exceptional circumstances.
The key here is the third bullet point. The Singapore Airlines conditions of carriage, like that of Qantas, provides for a full refund in the event the airline cancels.

Virgin and Jetstar have different conditions where events are outside their control (which Covid is).

So on that basis, ACCC's advice to you is based on bullet #1, and not on bullet #3.

Where does FC fit in to this? That's a different story. I don't believe their contract rules out a full refund where the airline cancels. So you should in theiry be entitled to a refund without any of their fees and charges.

Going back to your link, it does say the following for flights cancelled by SQ:

Unused tickets - if your flight is cancelled:
Options: -​
1. Defer travel with final return date of 31Mar21.​
2 Refunds​
a. Refundable fares: Yes. Standard Fares Rules apply.​
b. Non-Refundable fares. Yes. For flight cancellations up to 30Apr20. Processing fee of $200 applies.​
i. Please use “Covid19” as the waiver code​

I'm not sure how/if that is valid. While EU261 does not apply (it is considered an extraordinary event), my understanding is that EU authorities have determined that a full refund is required. This would seem inconsistent with the $200 processing fee (and given that's in $, I'm guessing that could be Singapore dollars, and be a carry-over from their Singapore terms and conditions?)

The CoC for Australia says they will refund. So I'd be going on that basis. A subsequent policy shouldn't have the effect of overriding the contract you already have with them.
Thank you for a great response
 

hada88

Junior Member
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
Messages
31
I have a flight with Aunt Betty (FC subsidiary), who are also adopting a similar approach (ie involuntary cancellation = $250 pp Aunt Betty fee or a credit note for $55 per person...).

I wonder if a flight is cancelled, if the flight was paid on a credit card, could you charge back claiming not able to get a full refund?
 

SydneySwan

Established Member
Joined
Jan 12, 2014
Messages
1,609
Qantas
LT Silver
I have a flight with Aunt Betty (FC subsidiary), who are also adopting a similar approach (ie involuntary cancellation = $250 pp Aunt Betty fee or a credit note for $55 per person...).

I wonder if a flight is cancelled, if the flight was paid on a credit card, could you charge back claiming not able to get a full refund?
I would certainly give that a try.
 

MEL_Traveller

Enthusiast
Joined
Apr 27, 2005
Messages
21,001
I have a flight with Aunt Betty (FC subsidiary), who are also adopting a similar approach (ie involuntary cancellation = $250 pp Aunt Betty fee or a credit note for $55 per person...).

I wonder if a flight is cancelled, if the flight was paid on a credit card, could you charge back claiming not able to get a full refund?
Check their terms and conditions, if their handling fee does not cover cancellation by the airline, then you might have a good case.
 

Pug1

Member
Joined
Aug 28, 2014
Messages
275
The capital raising and additional loan funding for FC announced today is encouraging for their survival. We cancelled the Qatar flights on 19 March and still waiting for the refund and our agent is not responding. I noticed that the flights disappeared from the Qatar manage booking login straight away on the 19th.
 

muppet

Established Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2010
Messages
1,013
Qantas
Platinum
Very keen to hear the outcome of this behaviour of FC charging cancellation fees on involuntary cancellations.

I’m wonder how we (consumers) can prevent being suckered in the future (once the crisis is over).

I’m worried people will forget how they were treated by companies when things went into crisis.
 

hada88

Junior Member
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
Messages
31
Very keen to hear the outcome of this behaviour of FC charging cancellation fees on involuntary cancellations.

I’m wonder how we (consumers) can prevent being suckered in the future (once the crisis is over).

I’m worried people will forget how they were treated by companies when things went into crisis.
I will only ever book directly with airlines now...even if it is more expensive.

One thing that is even worse, I have flights to return home (yes, that means, expiring lease, packing stuff, etc etc) and Aunt Betty won't even deal with me until 24 hours before the flight. If, going by what I read online, my flight is cancelled, then I'll also be stuck with $500 of a cancellation fee for an involuntary cancellation...

Not sure what I am meant to do - and really must say I am disappointed that they would use this opportunity to take advantage of flyers. I have bookings with booking.com, trip.com, Agoda etc, and all have had the good moral sense to refund involuntarily cancellations without a fee.

Edit: I wonder if there is any merit in sites like this, highlighting the good (and bad) experience of some of these third party travel agents. If anything, if gives some level of accountability so that other travellers are not so caught out in future.

I had about six weeks of travelling booked directly and indirectly - so have plenty of experience in how to, and not to, handle customers in these unusual times!
 
Last edited:

Pug1

Member
Joined
Aug 28, 2014
Messages
275
I will only ever book directly with airlines now...even if it is more expensive.

One thing that is even worse, I have flights to return home (yes, that means, expiring lease, packing stuff, etc etc) and Aunt Betty won't even deal with me until 24 hours before the flight. If, going by what I read online, my flight is cancelled, then I'll also be stuck with $500 of a cancellation fee for an involuntary cancellation...

Not sure what I am meant to do - and really must say I am disappointed that they would use this opportunity to take advantage of flyers. I have bookings with booking.com, trip.com, Agoda etc, and all have had the good moral sense to refund involuntarily cancellations without a fee.

Edit: I wonder if there is any merit in sites like this, highlighting the good (and bad) experience of some of these third party travel agents. If anything, if gives some level of accountability so that other travellers are not so caught out in future.

I had about six weeks of travelling booked directly and indirectly - so have plenty of experience in how to, and not to, handle customers in these unusual times!
We have mainly booked direct in the past and will go back to that. Must say FC didn't add any value to our Qatar booking.
 

hada88

Junior Member
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
Messages
31
We've just published an article inspired by this thread - Flight Centre Cancellation Fees Under Fire
Thank you, that is really appreciated.
Post automatically merged:

Singapore Airlines is not refunding flight bookings, so that argument cant be used against Flight Centre.

SQ is only offering rescheduling for free
Perhaps, but the issue here is that FC / Aunt Betty are then throwing their own fee on top (including instances where airlines are refunding involuntary cancellations).
 

Stingray2102

Junior Member
Joined
Apr 8, 2020
Messages
10
Ive submitted a chargeback with my bank as I'm in this situation myself where Qantas have cancelled the flight and issued a full refund to Flight Centre but Flight Centre persist on deducting their $300 fee from the refund. (Its bad enough that the refund might take up to 12 weeks...)

Will let you all know how it goes!
 

MEL_Traveller

Enthusiast
Joined
Apr 27, 2005
Messages
21,001
Singapore Airlines is not refunding flight bookings, so that argument cant be used against Flight Centre.

SQ is only offering rescheduling for free
You'll note the very careful wording of SQ's 'travel waiver policy' - allowing the passenger flexibility to change plans. This doesn't specifically address the issue of SQ cancelling the flight. Unless SQ's conditions of carriage provide otherwise, I would expect the option of a full refund in the event they cancel the flight.
 

Stingray2102

Junior Member
Joined
Apr 8, 2020
Messages
10
Yeah - there's plenty of chatter on a half-dozen forums about Flight Centre and refunds... full information is here: Coronavirus Travel & Business Update

There is no suggestion that FC is not refunding, however, in cases where you seek a refund, even if the operating airline cancels, FC will take out their $300 cancellation fee. If you voluntarily choose to cancel (ie the airline is still operating their flights), then you may be entitled to a credit, voucher, or a refund in line with the terms and conditions of your original fare or the current airline policy.

In any event, if yuo choose the 'refund' option, FC will take out their hefty $300 fee, per person.

I'm not exactly sure if FC taking $300 for a fee if the airline cancels is legal. Time will tell. There's an awful lot of very unhappy folks and I think there will be legal action at some stage, or a review by one of the regulatory authorities.
The main problem is that their standard Terms and Conditions on cancellation fees are intentionally vague, especially in the instance of involuntary cancellations caused by the airlines.

1586321857854.png

Any reasonable person would interpret these T&C's to mean that the fee applies only for cancellations that are requested by the customer.

Now Flight Centre are attempting to clarify these T&C's to apply retrospectively in their Coronavirus update page, and saying they are applying the fees even if the cancellation is forced by the supplier/airline.

Coronavirus Travel & Business Update
1586321977624.png

They need to be challenged on this.

I actually think the ACCC have started catching on to this behaviour. They have also updated their ACL page to say that businesses are not allowed to change their T&C's at a later time to deny a refund.

1586322622610.png
 
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DC3

Established Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2010
Messages
4,898
Qantas
Platinum
Flights
My Map
Some must have been getting good deals from FC/AB on their bookings, at the time?

I always book direct but would use a TA for a complex itinerary.
 

MEL_Traveller

Enthusiast
Joined
Apr 27, 2005
Messages
21,001
Any reasonable person would interpret these T&C's to mean that the fee applies only for cancellations that are requested by the customer.
Not only a 'reasonable person' but i suspect the law as well would read the clause down in the event there was any ambiguity (which I don't think there is anyway). FC's interpretation is 100% illogical, because it would, for example, that if FC themselves cancelled your booking (say the agent made a mistake), they could charge you the $300 fee to give you back your money!
 

Flyinfish

Member
Joined
Jul 16, 2014
Messages
183
Virgin
Gold
Thanks for all your helpful advice!
I too have flights with Etihad booked through Aunt Betty. Etihad recently cancelled the first leg, so it is a forced (involuntary) cancellation. After an hour on hold I managed to speak to an AB rep, who told me my flights were non-refundable, so a credit note was my only option. He also said I would have to book the same itinerary and travel in the same month in 2021(!) AND that AB would charge $55 for this privilege!
I checked Etihad's Conditions of Carriage. '
10.2 INVOLUNTARY REFUNDS
10.2.1 If we: (i) cancel a flight; (ii) fail to operate a flight reasonably according to schedule; (iii) fail to carry you on a flight for which you have a confirmed reservation and have met the Check-in Deadline and applicable boarding deadline and you have not been refused carriage for reasons permitted by these Conditions of Carriage; (iv) fail to stop at your destination or Stopover; or (v) cause you to miss a connecting flight on which you hold a confirmed reservation and adequate time existed to make the connection between the original scheduled time of arrival of your flight and the departure time of the connecting flight, the amount of the refund shall be, unless otherwise specified by appropriate law:
10.2.1.1 if no portion of the Ticket has been used, an amount equal to the fare paid (including taxes, fees, charges and exceptional circumstances surcharges paid);
10.2.1.2 if a portion of the Ticket has been used, not less than the difference between the fare paid (including taxes, fees, charges and exceptional circumstances surcharges paid) and the applicable fare calculated by us (including taxes, fees, charges and exceptional circumstances surcharges paid) for travel between the points for which the Ticket has been used.'
No mention of Fare Rules here.
Also, I have travel insurance for the trip, taken out before Covid-19 was a known event, no exclusions for pandemic, so I thought they would cover me if a refund was refused. But of course they have a clause that a voucher or 'remedy' invalidates my claim.
In addition to the ridiculous situation where people are being changed cancellation fees for flights that are forced cancellations, we have this very vague idea of 'voucher or remedy'. What, would a $10 voucher for McDonalds suffice???
How do you challenge the fairness of the remedy or voucher?
In my case I need to book before 30 September and travel before 31 July, except that I MUST travel in April!!! I must pay $55 to rebook (no alternative, can't bypass AB) AND pay the difference in fare!
I'm phoning the ACCC tomorrow and then my bank. What a rort!
 

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