If you’re currently booked on a Qantas flight for travel until 31 July 2020, and no longer wish to travel, you have until next Thursday to cancel for a flight credit voucher without paying any fees.
Qantas has been actively encouraging passengers to request a credit voucher at the earliest opportunity. After all, this is the best outcome for the airline at a time of severe cash flow issues. But should you do it?
Qantas credit voucher rules (and catches)
If you are currently booked on a Qantas flight departing between now and 31 July 2020, Qantas is offering the chance to cancel and convert the value of your booking into a credit voucher without penalty. You’ll be able to use this voucher to travel any time until 31 December 2021.
At this stage, this offer expires on 30 April 2020 and Qantas has not announced an extension. (But the previous offer – which originally expired at the end of March – was extended.)
Qantas credit vouchers can be used to book a new trip, but there are a few strings attached:
- The new flights must be of equal or greater value to the old flights (and you’ll need to pay any fare difference if the new flights are more expensive)
- The new booking must be for exactly the same number of passengers as the original booking
- The first flight on the new booking should depart from the same country as the first flight on the old booking
- You’ll only be able to redeem the voucher online for one-way and return flights (i.e. not multi-city bookings) and you cannot use a voucher towards a round-the-world trip
Qantas flight credits can be redeemed later by managing your booking online. Qantas says that no fees are associated with obtaining or using your voucher.
The flight credit offer doesn’t apply to Classic Flight Rewards, which can be cancelled for a full refund of the Qantas points & taxes paid if you’re due to travel until 31 July 2020.
For travel from 1 August 2020, the normal fare rules (including any applicable change & cancellation fees) continue to apply.
Should you request a Qantas travel credit?
If you’re covered by the current Qantas waiver and you’re no longer able to travel, you could choose to request a travel credit. If you think you’ll have a chance to fly with Qantas again before the end of 2021, there’s no real harm in this. However, keep in mind that you cannot get a refund later after requesting a credit voucher. Once you ask for a voucher, you’re stuck with it – even if your flight later gets cancelled by the airline.
If Qantas cancels your flight, and does not provide a suitable alternative, you are entitled to a full refund! But conveniently (for the airline), Qantas has so far only cancelled flights that it doesn’t intend to operate until the end of May. If you’re booked to travel in June or July, Qantas probably hasn’t cancelled your flight yet – even if there is little prospect of the flight actually running. This practice has already been called out by some travel bloggers.
If you’re booked to travel in June or July on a route that has been suspended – especially if it’s an international flight – Qantas will almost certainly cancel your flight eventually. But the airline will probably wait until after the 30 April deadline for requesting a voucher has passed. By doing so, the airline would be hoping that you’ll accept a Qantas credit voucher in the meantime, so that it doesn’t have to give you a refund when your flight eventually does get cancelled. If you want a refund, don’t fall for this trick!
But if Qantas is still operating flights on the route you’re booked to fly on – such as one of the domestic routes currently being subsidised by the federal government – you probably won’t be able to get the cancellation or change fees waived if you choose not to travel. (That is unless, of course, you’ve booked a refundable ticket – in which case you can cancel for a full refund at any time as part of the conditions of your ticket.)
Virgin Australia has extended its voucher offer
Meanwhile, Virgin Australia has now extended its voucher offer. Virgin was previously allowing either free changes or the ability to cancel and retain the value of bookings as a travel bank credit, for travel until 30 June 2020. For bookings made prior to 10 April 2020, this has now been extended to cover travel until 30 September 2020. For flights to/from the United States, free changes are permitted for travel booked up to 21 May 2021.
Virgin Australia redemption bookings can be cancelled for a full refund of the Velocity points & taxes if you’re booked to travel until 30 September 2020 (previously 30 June 2020).
Virgin Australia’s policy is not to provide refunds unless the original fare rules for your booking allow it. This may be a breach of Australian Consumer Law, but it could be a moot point now as Virgin Australia is not processing refunds while in voluntary administration anyway.
Summary: Should I request a Qantas credit voucher?
If you’re happy with a Qantas credit voucher, and your current booking qualifies to get one, you can of course request this. As of now, you have until 30 April to do so.
But if you’d prefer a refund, it’s likely your flight will eventually get cancelled (if it hasn’t already been) and Qantas is unlikely to be able to offer you an alternative flight, you may be better off holding out for a possible refund.
If you are hoping to get a refund from Qantas, be prepared for long processing times.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Qantas booking cancellation (under covid19)