Qantas is reportedly offering status credits, extra credit value and/or extended voucher validity to selected customers that agree to hold onto their flight credits instead of requesting a refund for cancelled flights.
Some Australian Frequent Flyer members have reported being offered 100 bonus status credits, an additional 10% value on their flight credits, or even extended voucher validity until 2023, if they opt not to request a refund and keep their flight credits vouchers. Qantas has already extended the validity of most flight credits issued due to COVID-19 until 31 December 2022.
For example, AFF member Mqrko posted after contacting Qantas:
I called to get a refund of the flight credit and they offered me +10% off the value usable multiple times until end of 2023
They offered me a refund as well but it is very likely I’ll be using all of it by december 2023
They also offered me 100SC to keep the voucher.
We asked Qantas whether this offer was open to all or only being made to selected customers, but Qantas did not answer our questions.
In Mqrko‘s case, the bonus status credits and other sweeteners were reportedly offered by a staff member at the Qantas call centre after the customer requested to convert the Qantas flight credit they had been issued into a full refund.
Qantas flooded with refund requests
There was a flood of customers contacting Qantas to request refunds after the ACCC advised that many Qantas customers with flight credits are entitled to a full refund if Qantas cancelled their flight. The ACCC forced Qantas to contact customers that were issued with flight credits for travel between 17 March and 31 May to inform them of their rights, based on section 9.2 of the Qantas conditions of carriage. In previous communications, Qantas (like many airlines) has avoided using the word “refund” and pressured customers into accepting a flight credit if they no longer wanted to travel.
Airlines need some customers to accept vouchers or flight credits as they are currently struggling with severe cash flow issues, due to the volume of COVID-19 flight cancellations. But different airlines have taken different approaches to this. Some carriers are simply not informing their customers of their right to a refund in the hope most will blindly accept credits. Others are intentionally delaying the processing of refunds or have disabled the automatic processing of refunds.
Many Qantas customers report that it has taken over 3 months to receive a refund for their cancelled flights. Many are unhappy about the lengthy delays.
Now that the ACCC has forced Qantas to inform its customers of their right to a refund, perhaps Qantas now realises that it has to actually make their vouchers attractive if they want customers to accept them! Other airlines have already been doing this for months, by offering incentives or extra value to customers that choose to take a voucher. Since March, for example, Aer Lingus has been giving customers 10% extra value on their flight credits which will not expire for 5 years.
Singapore Airlines, Qatar Airways, Emirates, Etihad and many other airlines are also giving customers extra credit if they retain the value of their booking as a voucher. For these airlines, this is a standard offer open to all – not something being offered only to a few customers with high-value bookings after they threaten to seek a refund.
It makes perfect sense that Qantas should offer some extra sweeteners to customers that accept flight credits. After all, they’re effectively giving the airline an interest-free loan. Perhaps if the airline offered status credits or other incentives to more people, more would be happy to take the credits.
Would you retain your Qantas flight credit in exchange for extra value, extended validity or bonus status credits?
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Qantas Revenue booking cancellations (under covid19)