Qantas begins cancelling international flights until March 2021

Qantas has started scrapping the next six months of overseas flights, giving passengers the right to request a full cash refund.

By Chris Chamberlin, October 2 2020
Qantas begins cancelling international flights until March 2021

Qantas has begun cancelling overseas flights through to the end of March 2021, in yet another sign that the pre-COVID days of easy international travel won't be returning any time soon.

This encompasses flights removed from the airline's schedule in mid-July, which prevented new bookings from being made, but were not officially cancelled: a crucial step which meant existing bookings remained active, leaving would-be passengers in limbo.

Most flights for November were cancelled today, along with a number of routes through to March 28, 2021 – including Bali, Jakarta, Santiago and seasonal Sydney-Vancouver flights – with the airline continuing to assess further long-distance cancellations in what's become an evolving process.

As previously reported by Executive Traveller, the formal cancellation of these flights now allows passengers to request a full refund of their fare.

With almost six months of bookings ranging from frequent business trips to family holidays, Qantas could face as much as $1 billion in refunds claimed against everything from multiple business trips to long-awaited family holidays.

As an alternative to refunds, and to prevent a cash-bleeding 'run on the bank' which would hammer Qantas' balance sheet, the airline has been encouraging passengers to turn their booking into travel credit which can used on future Qantas flights through to the end of 2022.

The airline is offering incentives such as having an additional 10% of the booking's value held in credit, or allowing all flights booked using that credit to accrue a double serve of frequent flyer points or status credits.

However, Executive Traveller readers have reported offers of 20% of the booking's value being added to their travel credit balance plus double Qantas Points or status credits.

Read more: Qantas offers travel credit incentives over refunds for cancelled flights

Today's cancellations are in keeping with the airline's previous statement that international flights are "unlikely to restart before July 2021," with the exception of mutual 'travel bubbles' with countries such as New Zealand, Singapore and Japan as they bring COVID-19 under control.

At the time of writing, Qantas and Jetstar flights between Australia and New Zealand remain open in expectation of a 'travel bubble' opening between the two countries.

Qantas has previously noted that "should travel between Australia and other countries open up and demand returns, we can add more flights back into our schedule."

Qantas cancelled your flight? Here are your options

The Booking changes section of Qantas' website notes that "If we’ve cancelled your Qantas flight, we'll rebook you on the next available flight to your booked destination (if possible), at no additional cost to you. Alternatively, you can choose a flight credit or a refund. You won’t be charged any change or cancellation fees. We’ll be contacting anyone whose flight has been impacted as soon as possible."

In normal circumstances, Qantas has the option to automatically rebook passengerson the next available flight to their original destination, although you're not required to accept that alternative, and under the current circumstances you probably won't be even be in a position to take any 'alternative flight'.

Choose a flight credit and the price paid for your original booking will be converted into a Qantas voucher.

Valid for 12 months, flight credits can be applied towards a new flight reservation, including to destinations other than the one you’d originally booked – such as for domestic travel.

As previously reported by Executive Traveller, you can expect sweeteners from Qantas to turn a cancelled booking into a flight credit for future travel.

In some cases, this credit can come with a 20% boost to the value of the voucher (which sees a $5,000 booking transformed into a $6,000 flight credit).

Other readers report an offer of either double Qantas Points or double Qantas status credits for taking a flight voucher over a refund, with some being offered both a credit value boost and a points or status credit bonus in their frequent flyer account.

Of course, even if you’re offered an incentive to keep the value of your booking as a flight credit, you’re still free to opt for a full cash refund back to your original source of payment, or a full refund of your Qantas Points plus any taxes and fees paid.

However, Qantas’ processing times for refunds currently exceed 10 weeks from the day the refund is requested.

Qantas travel credits vs cash refunds

Deciding whether to accept a travel credit – especially with an incentive attached – or to take a refund?

Beyond the appeal of seeing thousands of dollars land back into your bank account, both paths have their pros and cons.

On the plus side, refunded money can eventually be spent on travel with other airlines, if there are destinations or promotional sales which appeal.

Travel credits, on the other hand, are more restrictive than a cash refund: you’ll be locked into flying with Qantas on your future travels, even if competing airlines are offering better fares or more convenient flight schedules when you next plan to fly.

However, for those who are able to travel and could put a flight credit to good use before it expires, taking that credit over a refund – particularly if there’s an incentive attached, like bonus value – could prove the most rewarding path.

For those less likely to fly, or who usually relish the freedom of selecting an airline for each trip based on price and schedule, a refund may instead be the preferred path: as it would be for those on a tight budget, where every dollar in the bank counts.

Additional reporting by David Flynn

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller, and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

05 May 2016

Total posts 587

It will be interesting to see what QANTAS does about status extensions.

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 114

If the ACCC were not a bunch of toothless tigers, they should be investigating why refunds take more than 10 weeks from the time it is requested. Yet if a customer was to change their flight, I doubt Qantas would take more than 10 weeks to collect the change fee and fare difference. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Nov 2012

Total posts 56

Got mine back yesterday 28 weeks after I requested it. 10 weeks is pure ambition

11 Jul 2020

Total posts 52

Probably because they have so many passengers to refund world wide mine too six weeks for the refund to appear in my bank account.

6 weeks is nothing.  I've been waiting for 5 months to get a refund from SAS and i'm still waiting.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 208

Although it is looking quite likely that the world won't be getting back to normal just yet, isn't it a bit premature for Qantas to be cancelling all flights to the end of March?

Many airlines are in the process of re-instating flights (or have already done so). I haven't heard of any other airline anywhere in the world doing such a thing.

What if the world did re-open say around January? Would Qantas only start flying again in April, despite this?

Lots of unanswered questions here...

Good thing I'm not intending on flying anywhere with Qantas.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1029

Freqflyer look at Europe with its current new lockdowns (and the US) many flights being cancelled. I think AirAsiaX has cancelled pretty well everything. qantas is not as alone as you suggest.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1029

Freqflyer Fiji Airways has canceled everything as well. 

Fiji airways has only cancelled FIJI/USA (LAX & SFO) up to JAN 10, 2021.

Fiji Airways is still hoping to fly Australia to Fiji from 1OV 1, 2020. With NZ/Australia flights starting this Fri, with pax with no quarantine or restrictions for kiwis, that's a reasonable hope.

Their SYD/LAX daily direct is showing available JAN 11, 2021.

FJ910/810 with under 3 hours at NAN with new A350 operating both sectors & opposite coming back JAN 25, 2021.

from their website

Travel Alert:Fiji Airways Further Extends Flight Cancellations to end of OctoberUpdated: 21 Sep 18:03 FJT

think the headline implies that they cancelled all international. Don't think this is the case at all.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 208

Patrick, Air Asia X is still running repatriation and charter flights. The other day they operated a special Bangkok - Tel Aviv flight to transport Thai migrant workers to Israel. I'm pretty sure Air Asia X will re-instate services just as soon as the situation improves, rather than declare a blanket suspension well into next year.

My point is that I'm not aware of any other airline that has stated it will cancel all scheduled international services until the end of the Northern Hemisphere winter/Southern Hemisphere summer timetable, this early. Most airlines are offering some services even if they're continuously revising them (such as Emirates, Etihad, Singapore Airlines, etc.)

I realise things are starting to look bleaker again in Europe. However, no airline on that continent has decided to stop all international flying until April. At the very most, frequencies have been reduced and some under performing routes, especially those subject to more stringent entry requirements, may have been temporarily suspended. Still a far cry from what Qantas is doing.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1029

TheFreq they are canceling so they don’t have to take bookings and make refunds later. They have four A333s running a regular cargo schedule plus 737s for NZ and some Asian routes so they can quickly open bookings when ScoMo and duttons border force allow it to be economic.

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

19 Jan 2018

Total posts 20

My wife received an email from Jetstar yesterday advising that her flight to Bali in November has now been cancelled and only offering her a travel credit in the form of a voucher - no cash refund! Although admittedly it did say something about cash refunds could be possible depending on what airfare you were travelling on, and to look at the T&C's. Of course my wife was on a cheapo sale fare... who the hell pays full fares on Jetstar to fly to Bali?! And of course it'll only be those who have paid a full fare that will be entitled to a cash refund... which means no-one!!   

31 Mar 2014

Total posts 338

Call them up. I am pretty sure Jetstar has been pulled up previously for not refunding flights that they cancelled. Doesn't matter what fare was purchased if they are the ones who cancel. If no luck with Jetstar, do a CC chargeback with your bank. 

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

19 Jan 2018

Total posts 20

Thanks for that.... good to know. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Oct 2016

Total posts 8

Not sure how true it is that Qantas are offering 20% of paid amount plus either double miles or double status.  Only today I raised that with Qantas with three of my cancelled flights, and was  informed by Qantas Premium/Platinum  that this was not the case.  Can anyone please confirm they received the 20% of paid amount plus either double miles or double status

QF

10 Jan 2014

Total posts 9

I am platinum &got a call out of the blue recently offering me additional points or double status credits on a recently cancelled domestic itinerary, redeemable any time up to 2022, so it’s definitely not urban legend. Chanced my hand and took the DSCs in the (perhaps vain) hope that I can retain status.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Oct 2016

Total posts 8

Not sure what you mean.  Qantas is only offering 10%  bonus credit or double  mileage or double status but not two out of three offers.  There is no 20% refund credit plus either double  mileage or double status. 

Sara Gul are you saying that you received 20% refund credit plus either double  mileage or double status?

QF

10 Jan 2014

Total posts 9

I didn’t get offered extra value, either extra points (can’t remember the amount but 5000 rings a vague bell) or DSCs so went with the DSCs

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 110

AnthonySydney, Qantas WILL offer 20% bonus value and/or stack that with a double points or double status credits deal, see my comment further down. This is NOT something offered up front to everyone but if you have a large enough booking and get the right operator you can nail this down as an alternative to Qantas refunding you the entire amount.

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 110

A data point for this discussion, I was sitting on multiple international business class bookings with Qantas when it suspended international flights towards the end of March, around $15,000 all up. Qantas offered the 10% added value or the double points or status credits to keep this in 'Travel Pass' credit. I said that in my opinion the sorts of trips I am doing, as they often involve training and conferences, won't be running until 2022 so I'd rather take the refund, unless Qantas could do a better deal, as I'd read about other people getting this. The Qantas operator went off to a supervisor, came back and said she had authorisation for 20% added value, I asked for this to include double status credits as I wanted to lock away my status for the next year after I resume travel, or I'd take the refund. Back to the supervisor, then back on the line and said they would do this due to my status and the value of the bookings. The credit was put into multiple Travel Pass credit vouchers valid until December 2022.

20 Oct 2017

Total posts 4

If your enquiry was answered by a consultant in the South African call centre then I'm not suprized.Very poorly trained and rude to boot.

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 114

Agreed! If I have to call QF and I get put to South Africa I hang up and call back.

Unfortunately seems the bean counters would rather reduce/close the P1 team in Canberra and Hobart rather than close the terrible call centres in South Africa.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Jan 2018

Total posts 28

Haha, an arrogant South African, who would have guessed. Yup, had my share of insufferable know-all South Africans on the other end of the line over the years but at least you know what you will be getting when they answer. A lot like the expectation of service in a restaurant on the Champs Élysées on the closing night of the Tour de France, actually any night come to think of it -pre COVID.

20 Oct 2015

Total posts 75

Anthony, see the link in this article above, several ET readers have reported this. The standing Qantas offer is 10% bonus OR double points OR double status credits but some people are successfully pushing this to a 20% bonus AND double status credits. Qantas is not putting that on the table as a 'starting offer' but they do have latitude to go there, and just remember, YOU are the one in the driver's seat here, you can say to them "20% bonus and double status credits, or I'll take my refund thanks" and of course it could depend on the value of your booking, you'd want to be sitting on many thousands of dollars of cancelled flights.

gold4life

bonuses are meaningless if fares are all on the increase. A 20% bonus, when the fare is 30% more ?

I'd prefer like for like, with no extra money changing hands.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Aug 2013

Total posts 8

Whichever way you look at it , bonuses are useful. Whether you have the cash or a voucher, you will have to pay the going price for the trip you want to take. I have a $3,000 refund due for a trip to Japan. I wasn't offered a bonus so I took the cash. If I had been offered a $3,600 voucher I probably would have accepted. If the fare when I want to go is, say, $4,000 then I would be paying $400 instead of $1,000 if I took the cash.

They are ever going to offer like for like as fares change depending on season, day of the week, demand etc.

boris I think you meant to say NEVER not ever in your last sentence.

Why couldn't they offer like for like with no money changing hands if same season, dates etc.

If I had a Jan 1, 2021, flight SYD/LAX coming home 2 weeks later, I would expect to be able to get on same flights Jan 1, 2022 with same return dates, with no cost difference whatsoever (or possibly 1 day different due to change of days year to year).

They could simply say, here's an option. If you want it, make a decision by such date, or you will get dollar credit.

Some other airlines are offering just that.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 Sep 2020

Total posts 3

Well I hope they complete the processing of refunds already submitted before they embark on this round.

We submitted a request for refund (on medical grounds not Covid) for approximately $15000 on 3 March and still waiting. Yes that’s 7 months and counting. Qantas won’t speak to me as I booked through a travel agent. 

Totally unacceptable.

S auburn

how on earth would qantas know how much you actually paid ?

I think anyone getting any refund from any airline is very lucky. Many will never ever see a refund.

This, I have a right to a refund nonsense, does not apply, if govt not airlines effectively cancelled flights.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 Sep 2020

Total posts 3

My ticket was cancelled by me on medical grounds before Covid.  The terms and conditions of the tickets that I bought were refundable subject to cancellation fee per ticket.  The credit card payment went through the Qantas system (i.e. vendor on CC statement) not travel agent.

S AUBURN

ok sorry, I just presumed most people didn't book directly with qantas. We always find it much cheaper to go through a wholesaler & get their special fares that aren't online. The only -ve with that is you have to pay extra, the merchant fee to put it on credit card.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Aug 2013

Total posts 8

I am a platinum FF and cancelled a flight in early August with payment due by end September. It is still not there. I was not offered any incentive to take a voucher even though I asked. We now have flights to Santiago cancelled so I will be calling to request a refund and follow up previous refund. Interesting to see if they now make an offer to make the voucher worthwhile.

As an aside, we have cancelled a cruise with Scenic to Antarctica and they used force majeur clause to say they would not be offering a full refund, only a voucher. I cancelled in time to just lose the deposit as we may not use a voucher. The bad news is they quoted 180 days to pay the refund! Presumably they are hoping to get new bookings and payments to offset refunds.

21 Jun 2019

Total posts 4

I haven't received refunds for cancelled flights from March.

21 Jun 2019

Total posts 4

Receiving overnight refunds for March and April flights.

20 Oct 2017

Total posts 4

The Qantas refund system is a sham.Example,You pay for a fully refundable business class ticket and then have to wait 12 weeks for a refund.You firstly have to wait on hold for hours to be answered by rude foriegn staff from South Africa and New Zealand then your told to wait twelve weeks for the return of your money.It could not get more frustrating and Qantas dos'nt seem to care.A double question online giving the passenger a choice Credit voucher or a Refund would make more sence so the call centres could ease up on call volumes but no Qantas has to further annoy it's loyal passengers.Qantas is fast becoming a carrier without a concience.I have been a loyal Qantas F/Flyer for 32 years with all my bookings in business class so where is thank you for my support when it counts?If it's good enough to except payment on a booking then providing it's 100% flexible passengers should be intitled to an immediate refund.Covid is just being used as a lame excuse. Qantas,bring your refund wait time down to maximum four weeks.Close your overseas call centres and employ Australians after all isn't Qantas Australia's national carrier?Or is it?

22 May 2011

Total posts 69

I’ve been waiting 6 months for my refund from Cathay.

way too much whinging about not getting a refund promptly. Sound like a bunch of poms.

99% of airlines can't afford any refunds.

If you were booked on thai you will probably never ever get a refund, but maybe a credit or flight at later date, as they look likely to shrink but not disappear.

If you paid an airfare, you can probably afford it.

Airlines only cancelled flights because govts closed borders.

If I was running an airline anywhere, I wouldn't give anyone any refund whatsoever.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 208

Regular flyer, you're probably right. Pretty much all airlines are in a serious predicament right now.

As for THAI, my hotel voucher that was about to expire had it's points re-credited and their validity extended until Dec 31, 2021, in addition to the points I already had on my account. They did this within hours of me sending them an email.

If I were to redeem said voucher on that date, it would be valid for use until Dec 31, 2022.

I believe that they've handled my request very well. I too believe they will not go under but at least initially, become a smaller operation.

Once the global situation improves, there is a chance THAI can bounce back. Of course, I do hope they hire someone who knows what they're doing - they need fewer staff and less free tickets handed out to VIPs. Otherwise, it will be very tough. Then again, some years back they used to be profitable, so it's not a foregone conclusion.

as of this am, some Qantas flights to LAX in Jan 2020 haven't been cancelled (yet)

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Sep 2014

Total posts 1

Still waiting for refund. trip booked to Lord Howe Island last Nov to celebrate a 60th birthday, for a flight in April 2020. Flights cancelled, in March 2020. Still waiting for a refund. After being a Platinum frequent flyer which is now no longer. It is sad to see that we are requested to pay for a service upfront before we get it. But then when we have the service cancelled it takes for ever to get our money back.  I supported Qantas for years. Now the game has changed. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Mar 2020

Total posts 10

Still waiting from March for refund - Virgin was quicker (cancelled on same day and refunded in August) and they are in administration!

Keep getting emails saying it has been processed and will be 8-10 days to appear, but never does. Now have disputed transaction on my credit card.

Lmc
Lmc

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Nov 2018

Total posts 73

Certainly understand the frustration and i have experienced the same, but will i stop flying Qantas when all this is over .... no. They still (will once covid is over) operate the best best domestic product, the best FF program in Australia & a large international network with again a great business class. 

Qantas has over $1b in refunds... so understand the delay and the balancing act of operating costs and refunds with very little income. I am also waiting for multiple refunds for trips to syd, auckland, Wellington and bali. 

virgin has by far best domestic product.

Qantas ff program ? Not really. The charges are insane.

gj
gj

11 Nov 2012

Total posts 3

Hi

I rang Qantas today in regards to my November 14th Flight to USA in Business and they said it was not cancelled yet. I wasn't on line nor was it when I rang Qantas Premium telephone centre. They said they were awaiting an announcement yet re November cancellations

20 Oct 2015

Total posts 75

My travel agent says that Qantas has cancelled all overseas flights for November apart from NZ, so clearly something is underway, but maybe taking a while for all the cancellations to flow through the system.

qantas flights to LAX very much alive in early January peak season.

Friends looking for cheaper options looked at Fiji airways site & couldn't find any flights Nadi/LAX until January 10, but flights Brisbane, Sydney & Melbourne to Nadi prior to that date are very much alive. Also to San Francisco from January 11.

(so maybe the bubble to NZ will include Fiji soon, or fiji will be looking to anyone for aid & we don't want them getting dodgy loans from china, which they'll never ever be able to repay)

So they can depart here earlier than January 10, have few nights in Fiji & then fly Nadi/LAX January 10, do just over 2 weeks in USA & get kids back just in time to go to school, but online $1580 & same thing through travel agent $999.

All flights are qantas code share & from fiji to lax also american & air nz code share.

They are still planning on going but staying away from crowds.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1029

Regular Fiji is closed to all international travel so your friends are taking a (refund) gamble that that will change and I am assuming they are not Australian citizens or residents as that is another set of hoops.

NZ/OZ flights start in 6 days. No reason Fiji/OZ flights couldn't start at same time.

If they don't have unrestricted flights Fiji/OZ & NZ soon, then China will be in there handing out $100 zillion loans, that will never be repaid.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Oct 2016

Total posts 8

Gold4Life

Thank you for the link but have you received the 20% bonus and or double miles or status credits.  I am yet to see any confirmation from anyone who has received this offer successfully so I doubt this has or is happening.

All my tickets are in Business Class that are being cancelled. I also hold Platinum for life 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Mar 2020

Total posts 10

Further to my reply above re still waiting for refund from cancelled flight in March, I disputed the transaction online with my bank on Sunday, got a call yesterday asking for any emails with Qantas which I sent through and refund appeared in account this morning - great service from the bank...

Qantas

24 Oct 2014

Total posts 4

as a travel agent , this is our daily nightmare. We've been advised not to recommend/sell any QF international flights until possibly Jul 2021. Yes refunds are taking up to 5 months due to the sheer volume of requests and very limited staff. The process is partial robotic and partial human touch . A couple of ( European ) airlines haven't processed any refunds since April and no advice on when they will be released , it's an enormous problem for everyone , not only the flyer but the agent and in turn the airline. We have the added issue of closed international/domestic borders so as an agent we have all but no option to sell anything . 


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