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Flight Centre refunds for cancelled flights

Joined
Apr 27, 2005
Messages
20,539
Just contacted Commbank who advised that Visa instructions were that they wouldn't accept chargebacks for Covid related cancelled travel as it was a result of 'Australian government restrictions'. I can't see how Etihad cancelling my flights had anything to do with Australian government, UAE perhaps. Very annoyed, just passing the parcel.
I would argue that this is not a Covid related cancellation, this is a business that is acting contrary to your contract with them.
 
Joined
Apr 27, 2005
Messages
20,539
Nothing to even stop Australian carriers from running their flights overseas (I'm sure there were still foreign nationals needing to travel back home to places like Hong kong, Singapore etc.), they have cancelled all the flights due to commercial reasons.
The EU has some of the most consumer friendly laws going, heavily in favour of the passenger in the form of EU261. They have determined that Covid-19 is an extraordinary event (not commercial, or within the airlines' control). On that basis I am inclined to agree that the current industry restrictions and flight cancellations are not commercial.

However, despite the EU saying this is an extraordinary event, they still require airlines to offer a full cash refund (although France and Germany have overruled this, at least for now.)
 

TripleB

Member
Joined
Dec 23, 2012
Messages
205
For Flight Centre the penalty associated with breaching the Competition and Consumer Laws (and indeed anything else) is just a cost of doing business. They are always pushing the boundaries - it's just how they roll.
 

garrulous

Newbie
Joined
Oct 21, 2015
Messages
5
We booked and paid Flight Centre for J flights on Qatar last September, for next August. Have cancelled them as it was too risky to take our trip. Our flights have gone from the Qatar manage booking site and we're not sure if FC has received the refund from them. Obviously FC is swamped at the moment and we are not hearing from them even though we know the person who booked this is still working there. Has anyone been able to get their refund from FC during this pandemic? We're prepared to drop the cancellation fees but would hate to lose the balance of the flight cost. I'm wondering if Amex would do a reversal for us as we paid for the tickets on our Qantas Amex. Hoping FC survives this mess. Grateful for any advice from the AFF experts.
I had a brain fade and booked through Flight Centre (instead of direct through Etihad)two return Etihad business flights from Manila to Rome return. Etihad cancelled the leg into Rome in mid March because of the Virus and approved a full refund. The Flight Centree booking agent I went through agreed that it would be bullshit to charge the cancellation fee of 2x$300 in the circumstances and said that he had submitted it to his Processing Centre on that basis and would deposit the full refund funds into my bank account when processed by Sydney. That was three weeks ago and he says he cannot hurry things along given there are so many refunds being processed. I will be more than pleasantly surprised if the full tote lobs in my account.
I will confirm what transpires.
One thing’s for sure, they are going to lose a heap of future business over this attitude.
 

BusaKaine

Newbie
Joined
Jan 31, 2013
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2
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I booked accommodation in Hawaii through flight centre, however I had booked my flights with Virgin with points on Hawaiian Airlines. As they cancelled the flights, I contacted Flight Centre about the accom cancel, we have been able to get a full refund from the supplier for the accomodation. I don‘t know when I will be able to book business class flights with Virgin to Hawaii again as it was booked 1 year in advance last time so I’m asking for my money back, flight centre is charging 2x $300 for the refund. It is also going to take up to 8 weeks to process. I’m going to be following up with Citibank Prestige for the rest of the refund.
 

MollyJones

Junior Member
Joined
May 20, 2019
Messages
48
One thing’s for sure, they are going to lose a heap of future business over this attitude.
And that, for me, is the crux of it.
FC are trying to stay afloat for today but not thinking about tomorrow.
Many people choose to book their own travel, and I have seen plenty of talk from TAs reminding us of how much easier it is to cancel travel if you had booked through an agent than having to do it all yourself.
Now while that may be true, and I have spent in excess of 20 hours on phone calls so far, I have managed to get all my money back from every booking so far.

If FC and others want to have any ongoing business post-Covid19, then they need to keep the goodwill of the pax NOW. For J pax like the OP $300 pp might be wearable, but for families losing $300 pp on a cheap trip to Fiji will put them off ever using a TA again.

In a couple of years FC and others, if they survive, will be begging consumers to use them again. I don’t know. I have a long memory.
 

BusaKaine

Newbie
Joined
Jan 31, 2013
Messages
2
Flights
My Map
If FC and others want to have any ongoing business post-Covid19, then they need to keep the goodwill of the pax NOW. For J pax like the OP $300 pp might be wearable, but for families losing $300 pp on a cheap trip to Fiji will put them off ever using a TA again.

In a couple of years FC and others, if they survive, will be begging consumers to use them again. I don’t know. I have a long memory.
Completely agree, I have used FC many times over the past several years. Normally for our big trips but this $600 refund charge for accomodation only, will make me not want to use them every again. I will also let everyone know not to use them that I can (I will only tell the truth and recommend another company or do it yourself).
 

UncleScotty

Junior Member
Joined
Oct 6, 2013
Messages
11
I took the refund option and coughed up the $250. I booked a ticket to BKK for Songkran which was $1.5K. If I had taken the credit option, it would sit with AB and that I had end of 2021 to use it. So much could happen in that time and how am I to know if AB will still be around at the end of this. I've no knowledge in this but would it be possible for FC to bankrupt AB in future? Also, I felt 250 out of 1500 was ok to cop a hit. Now I've just have to wait and see if my refund does come through. I thought about a chargeback but I haven't seen any results yet. Also, chargebacks can be disputed and see your money gone again. And then what do you do?
 
Joined
Mar 1, 2015
Messages
5
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.
I think the fee is an outrage and the ACCC should declare it illegal. Flight Centre is making it easy NEVER to book with them for domestic flights.
 

jarman_ah

Junior Member
Joined
Jul 12, 2008
Messages
35
As a traveller since 1961, long before there was a Flight Centre (but there were still travel agents even in those days), I was interested in this sentence: "Flight Centre charges a cancellation fee – on top of any airline fees or penalties – when a customer decides to cancel flights booked through the agency. Such fees are a normal part of any travel agency’s terms and conditions." Now, my understanding of an agent -- whether travel or otherwise -- is that its commission comes not from the customer but from the supplier, the person who is RECEIVING the money. Is Flight Centre even a travel agent? I don't see the words "agent" or "agency" in their name. If they were, wouldn't they be selling the ticket to you at the stated price and then taking a percentage of that price from the airline for helping to fill that company's coffers? Frankly, I used to think Flight Centre WAS a travel agent, "just like the ones I used to know", and I used it several times until around 2002 (luckily, never needing to cancel). Then I learned of this "agent's fee" paid by the customer IN ADDITION to anything owed to the airline, and from that time onwards decided to cut out the middle man (I confess I did try Aunt Betty.... once). Thanks to direct on-line booking, I have never really missed the "agents".
 
Joined
Apr 27, 2005
Messages
20,539
As a traveller since 1961, long before there was a Flight Centre (but there were still travel agents even in those days), I was interested in this sentence: "Flight Centre charges a cancellation fee – on top of any airline fees or penalties – when a customer decides to cancel flights booked through the agency. Such fees are a normal part of any travel agency’s terms and conditions." Now, my understanding of an agent -- whether travel or otherwise -- is that its commission comes not from the customer but from the supplier, the person who is RECEIVING the money. Is Flight Centre even a travel agent? I don't see the words "agent" or "agency" in their name. If they were, wouldn't they be selling the ticket to you at the stated price and then taking a percentage of that price from the airline for helping to fill that company's coffers? Frankly, I used to think Flight Centre WAS a travel agent, "just like the ones I used to know", and I used it several times until around 2002 (luckily, never needing to cancel). Then I learned of this "agent's fee" paid by the customer IN ADDITION to anything owed to the airline, and from that time onwards decided to cut out the middle man (I confess I did try Aunt Betty.... once). Thanks to direct on-line booking, I have never really missed the "agents".
Flight Centre is a travel agent. They are agents for the airline, selling the airline's seats. They are not an agent for the passenger.

Travel agents make money in two ways, commission from tickets and other products they sell (paid by the providers) and fees they charge passengers for... well... all sorts of stuff these days. Some fees might be reasonable - like organising a visa for you. Others are not... like a fee to 'fare lock' your ticket price. I'm not even sure if the 'fare lock' is legal.
 

jarman_ah

Junior Member
Joined
Jul 12, 2008
Messages
35
Flight Centre is a travel agent. They are agents for the airline, selling the airline's seats. They are not an agent for the passenger.

Travel agents make money in two ways, commission from tickets and other products they sell (paid by the providers) and fees they charge passengers for... well... all sorts of stuff these days. Some fees might be reasonable - like organising a visa for you. Others are not... like a fee to 'fare lock' your ticket price. I'm not even sure if the 'fare lock' is legal.
That's right! They are an agent for the AIRLINE. They can sell seats for the airline so that the airline doesn't take off with half its seats unoccupied. So surely, for that service, it is the AIRLINE that should be paying the commission on each sale. Flight Centre shouldn't be playing it both ways and taking money from the passenger as well! Of course, if they do extra services, such as organising visas, that's different... but they take a fee from you if the sale falls through and they don't (I expect) then get the commission from the airline. The customer has the deck stacked against him.
 

por930

Member
Joined
Oct 22, 2013
Messages
263
When the dust settles, and it will, people need to remember which TA or Airline ripped them off, and hopefully go elsewhere. I have not used a TA for many years due to their 'hidden' costs and restrictions. Dealing directly with the airlines has been much easier and cheaper, specifically when a change is required. Sure, it means you have to do a lot more planning and diving in and out of schedules...while a bit stressful, it is also kind of fun.
 

hada88

Junior Member
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
Messages
31
And that, for me, is the crux of it.
FC are trying to stay afloat for today but not thinking about tomorrow.
Many people choose to book their own travel, and I have seen plenty of talk from TAs reminding us of how much easier it is to cancel travel if you had booked through an agent than having to do it all yourself.
Now while that may be true, and I have spent in excess of 20 hours on phone calls so far, I have managed to get all my money back from every booking so far.

If FC and others want to have any ongoing business post-Covid19, then they need to keep the goodwill of the pax NOW. For J pax like the OP $300 pp might be wearable, but for families losing $300 pp on a cheap trip to Fiji will put them off ever using a TA again.

In a couple of years FC and others, if they survive, will be begging consumers to use them again. I don’t know. I have a long memory.
Nail on the head. I have managed to get full refunds rom booking, agoda, trip etc - these are the only TA which have been difficult and are attempting to charge on top for involuntary cancellations.

FYI: they have updated / clarified their T&Cs, to emphasis that an involuntary cancellation fee is the same as a voluntary cancellation fee. This actually helps our case, as it feeds into the argument that they are trying to change their original T&Cs. See: Travel Alerts | Aunt Betty Help
 

Jennifer Cook

Junior Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2016
Messages
11
Why why why??? That's a terrible outcome. The airline is offering a full refund, yet FC is creaming profits off the top. And I reckon they have incorrectly interpreted their own terms and conditions, which they are now saying applies to 'any' cancellation, when clearly anyone else would read it in the context that if the 'passenger' chooses to cancel.
I'm sorry, but what "profits"? If you book through a travel agent, you are paying for their booking service to you, which you have received. If you don't want to pay for that service, book direct with the airline in future.

My closest friend has been one of Flight Centres top corporate travel agents globally for nearly 20 years. Their agents are paid mostly on commission, their base salary is pitiful. 80-90% of their staff have been stood down with no pay. After 20 years in the same job she is now doing casual work in a bike shop, standing at the door handing out hand sanitiser and managing the queue of customers. She considers herself lucky to have that job at all and hopes she will have a job in travel again in the future. Something to consider before you cry foul.....
 
Joined
Apr 27, 2005
Messages
20,539
I'm sorry, but what "profits"? If you book through a travel agent, you are paying for their booking service to you, which you have received.
FC has received commission from the airline for selling the ticket = covering costs + wages + profit. If the airline cancels and FC isn't happy losing that commission they should take it up with the airline.

$300 cancellation fee for refunding money when an airline cancels your flight? Even if that whole process took an hour, that would be $50 (staff wages plus on-costs). So the $250 balance is pure profit.
Post automatically merged:

For the record, did anyone take a copy of the previous cancellation clauses? That could come in handy down the track!
 

Pug1

Member
Joined
Aug 28, 2014
Messages
271
And that, for me, is the crux of it.
FC are trying to stay afloat for today but not thinking about tomorrow.
Many people choose to book their own travel, and I have seen plenty of talk from TAs reminding us of how much easier it is to cancel travel if you had booked through an agent than having to do it all yourself.
Now while that may be true, and I have spent in excess of 20 hours on phone calls so far, I have managed to get all my money back from every booking so far.

If FC and others want to have any ongoing business post-Covid19, then they need to keep the goodwill of the pax NOW. For J pax like the OP $300 pp might be wearable, but for families losing $300 pp on a cheap trip to Fiji will put them off ever using a TA again.

In a couple of years FC and others, if they survive, will be begging consumers to use them again. I don’t know. I have a long memory.
I agree. We must have spent tens of thousand of dollars with FC over the past 25 years. I have just put through a dispute on the American Express charges for our fares and requested a chargeback. This hopefully will put some pressure on FC to get us the refund. I also noticed that we paid for their $49 Captains package mainly for protection in case we found a cheaper fare. However this pack also says next business day refund. Will post how we go ASAP
 

Bruce H

Newbie
Joined
Apr 10, 2020
Messages
1
I absolutely agree. I have a trip to Tokyo on Virgin in discount Y that has been cancelled. It cost about $650 each so FC want to keep $300 per passenger of that. It is I suspect way in excess of their cost to process the refund.

The only way of avoiding the FC cancellation fee is to keep the full amount of your booking (less any supplier fees which can be up to 100% of the booking value) on file with Flight Centre to spend on travel within 12 months of cancelling, we will waive our own cancellation fees. Basically they are taking a leaf out of the airlines playbook. I think I can also convert the booking into Virgin Travel Bank.

I would prefer a proper 100% refund.
My problem is that the latest from Qantas on our flights are that we can take a voucher that will require rebooking by 31 December 2020, for travel by 31 Dec 2021. However the FC terms and conditions appear to require that travel is by 6 months of rebooking- if I am correct in this - this is disgusting and a complete disregard of their fiduciary duty of care toward those that have booked through them. Also, I have been told that they are not interested in the directive issued by the USA Department of Transportation on 3 April, indicating that airlines falling under their jurisdiction (ie flights entering or exiting the USA would qualify) should refund or provide vouchers - and from my understanding, if a voucher is offered, the passenger should be informed that a refund may be obtained as an alternative. In such cases FC want their cut. FC also informed me that contrary to the DoT directive, all USA domestic flights may be cancelled without refund.
I have a real concern that FC are scrambling & not doing the right thing by those that have booked through them — never again will they get this opportunity from me.
 

jarman_ah

Junior Member
Joined
Jul 12, 2008
Messages
35
"...if you book through a travel agent, you are paying for their booking service to you".

Why? They're not MY agent, they are an agent for the airline! Why shouldn't they just charge the airline a commission to cover their costs. That's how all other agents operate, and how travel agents USED to operate back in the twentieth century!
 

Lucky_man

Member
Joined
Jan 10, 2009
Messages
158
From a commercial standpoint FC have nothing to lose by trying it on. It is well established they have a terrible record for maximising their commission for changes.

I cancelled a $12,000 package of flights some time ago. And I expected them to charge their fees. But they tried to apply their per passenger fees as per passenger per segment (even if on the same ticket so an adl-syd-pvg-lyg trip would have it applied 3 times) and tried other equally outrageous interpretations of their own rules. The agent did not cancel the flights when I asked and contacted me at the boarding time of the first flight to advise she had not cancelled the flights - how distressing. Strangely - out of the blue, during the dispute - Qantas contacted me just to see how I was going and noticed I had not traveled for a while. I explained the situation. I had a call from the FC agent and was told curtly I'd get my money even though they did not agree and many weeks later I did get refunded.

Now if that is how they treat people, their most recent effort could hardly lower their reputation.

I understand their plight - it is horrific. But imagine if they embraced customers with an option to entice them to keep the money in credit - make customers feel they were helping out and their favor would be returned. Embrace a bit of the 'we are all in this together'. But imagine is all you can do in respect to FC.
 

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