Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Australia have been waiving change fees on new bookings since early 2020. This is designed to give people confidence to book new flights despite borders continuously opening and closing during the COVID-19 pandemic. In some cases, particularly for reward bookings made using frequent flyer points, Australia’s airlines have even been offering free cancellations.
These fee waivers are temporary, and have advertised expiry dates. But each of the airlines has continuously extended and updated their policies of additional flexibility. Until travel returns to normal, it is likely that airlines will continue to extend their fee waivers – although there is no guarantee.
Admittedly, it can be hard to keep up as these policies change so frequently. In fact, the airlines themselves seem to be struggling as we’ve found typos and conflicting information on both the Qantas and Virgin Australia websites!
This article explains the change & cancellation fee waivers being offered on new Qantas, Virgin Australia and Jetstar bookings as of the time of writing.
Qantas “Fly Flexible” policy (paid bookings)
Qantas is currently offering to waive its change fee one time on new paid domestic and trans-Tasman bookings. This applies to domestic bookings made from 21 May 2020, and trans-Tasman bookings from 15 October 2020, for booking and travel until 31 January 2021.
With this policy, you can change your destination or travel dates without paying a change fee. You would still need to pay any fare difference, if applicable. The normal fare rules apply to cancellations.
Of course, if Qantas cancels your flight, you are entitled to be rebooked or apply for a credit or refund at no cost.
See the Qantas website for details. There is also a lengthy discussion about Qantas revenue booking cancellations & refunds on the AFF forum.
Qantas “Fly Flexible” policy (Classic Flight Reward bookings)
Qantas Classic Flight Reward bookings come with much more flexibility. If your itinerary consists entirely of Classic Flight Rewards booked using Qantas Frequent Flyer points, you can make unlimited changes or cancel your booking until 31 January 2021.
Jetstar “Fly Flexible” policy
Jetstar has a similar “Fly Flexible” policy to Qantas for paid bookings, except it’s a bit less… flexible.
Jetstar will waive its change fee one time on all new domestic bookings (only) made between 21 May and 15 November 2020, for travel until 15 December 2020.
Once again, you are entitled to rebooking, a travel credit or a refund if Jetstar cancels your flight.
See the Jetstar website for details.
Virgin Australia change fee waiver (paid bookings)
Virgin Austrlia is currently waiving all change fees on paid domestic bookings until 31 January 2021, for travel until the same date.
However, cancellations are subject to the relevant fare rules and may incur a fee. Additionally, if Virgin Australia cancels your flight, the airline only says it will credit your booking to a travel bank. Virgin does not say it will provide a refund – even though this may be required under Australian Consumer Law – so beware!
Velocity Frequent Flyer bookings
If you’ve booked a Virgin Australia flight after 15 May 2020 using Velocity Frequent Flyer points, you are entitled to unlimited free changes until 31 January 2021. This includes bookings for travel beyond this date, as long as you make the change by 31 January 2021.
Velocity is also currently waiving cancellation fees on Velocity Reward Seat bookings until 31 October 2020. This also applies to flights booked for beyond this date, as long as you cancel by the end of October.
If Virgin Australia cancels your flight and a suitable alternative is not available, you’ll be entitled to a full refund of the Velocity points & taxes paid regardless of when this occurs.
See the Velocity Frequent Flyer website for details.