Qantas passengers booked onto all domestic and international flights departing until May 31 2020 now have the option of cancelling their trip for any reason, even when booked on an inflexible fare.
While cash refunds are not being provided unless permitted under normal fare rules, passengers will be able to retain the full value of their booking as a credit voucher which can be used towards the purchase of a future trip, with any normal change fees also waived.
This applies to both existing bookings, and new bookings made by March 31 2020.
“We understand that some customers would prefer not to travel at the moment,” said Qantas Group Chief Customer Officer Stephanie Tully.
“We have removed the standard change fees, where it applies, and are giving customers the option to cancel their flight and receive a travel voucher that can be used anywhere on our network at a later date,” Tully adds.
Here’s what you need to know.
Free changes for existing Qantas bookings
If you’ve already made a Qantas (or Jetstar) flight booking for a domestic or international flight departing on or before May 31 2020, you’re now able to cancel that booking without incurring a fee.
The total amount paid for your booking will be held as a voucher, which you can spend on future travel. This applies even if the flights you originally purchased did not permit changes or cancellations.
To be eligible, the cancellation of your flights must be processed by March 31 2020.
Flight vouchers provided for Qantas cancellations will be valid from 12 months from the date the cancelled flights were originally purchased, and can be used towards a new domestic or international flight anywhere in Qantas’ network.
That means you’ll need to both book and travel before the voucher expires.
Vouchers from cancelled Jetstar flights must instead be spent within six months of the cancellation being actioned – not six months from the date of original purchase – and can be used for travel within 12 months of the new booking date.
How to cancel your Qantas or Jetstar flight
Qantas passengers can request this via the Mange Booking section of the Qantas website. Open your booking, click “cancel”, then click “voucher”. Jetstar passengers can follow similar steps via the Manage Booking section of Jetstar’s own website.
However, passengers who booked flights via a travel agency – whether a traditional agent, or an online agency such as Expedia – must instead contact that agency to cancel.
These options are in addition to any entitlements provided under normal fare rules: so if your ticket type permits a full refund upon cancellation, this remains available.
If your booking was made on or after March 10 2020, you have even more flexibility as to when your flight is cancelled, as below.
Flexibility for new Qantas bookings
To help ease the uncertainty of making new travel plans amid the evolving coronavirus situation, Qantas and Jetstar are also offering free cancellations on flight bookings made between March 10 and March 31 2020 (inclusive), for travel before May 31 2020.
However, unlike the cancellation rules for bookings made prior to March 10 as above, these cancellations do not need to be actioned by March 31 2020 to be eligible. They can instead simply be processed before travel.
This applies to all domestic and international flights operated by both Qantas and Jetstar.
Where flights are cancelled and converted into a voucher, the same time frames apply as for older existing bookings, with Qantas vouchers being valid for 12 months from the original booking date, and Jetstar vouchers being valid for six months from the date of cancellation.
Tully reminds that “travel restrictions are being introduced by governments to contain the spread of the Coronavirus, not because of the risk of contracting the virus on a flight.”
“Medical experts, including Australia’s Chief Medical Officer and the World Health Organisation, continue to advise that it continues to be safe to fly and the risk of contracting the coronavirus on an aircraft remains low.”
Bookings made using Qantas Points
Qantas Classic Flight Reward bookings are usually very flexible, in that they can be cancelled up until 24 hours prior to departure of most domestic and international flights at a ‘cost’ of just 6,000 Qantas Points per passenger.
When cancelled, the total number of Qantas Points spent are returned to the purchaser’s Qantas Frequent Flyer account – minus that cancellation fee charged in points – with cash amounts paid in flight taxes, fees and surcharges also refunded to the credit card used to make the purchase.
This policy has long applied to flights booked with Qantas and its worldwide network of partner airlines, regardless of whether the booking is for travel in first class, business class, premium economy or economy.
In addition to this normal flexibility regarding cancellations, Qantas is also waiving its usual fee of 5,000 Qantas Points per passenger when changing a Classic Flight Reward booking – that is, retaining the booking but moving travel to a different date, as opposed to cancelling altogether.
The airline confirms that “Qantas Frequent Flyers who have booked classic redemption flights on Qantas, Jetstar and all partner airlines, and no longer wish to travel, will have change fees waived.”
This exemption applies to passengers with existing domestic and international flight bookings for travel until May 31 2020. Changes must be actioned by March 31 2020 to qualify for the change fee waiver, as per current policies.
In the past week alone, Qantas has outlined a significant volume of flight reductions across its network in response to the coronavirus crisis. Some partners, such as American Airlines, are also temporarily withdrawing all international flights from Australia and New Zealand, as demand plummets.
All international passengers arriving into Australia from today are also required to self-isolate for 14 days, regardless of their purpose of travel or their nationality.
Many other countries, including New Zealand, are applying the same policies to international arrivals, with some closing borders altogether.