Qantas braces for refund claims for cancelled overseas flights

Almost six months of international flights stretching through to March 2021 are set to be cancelled.

By David Flynn, September 29 2020
Qantas braces for refund claims for cancelled overseas flights

Qantas is bracing itself for a fresh wave of refunds against cancelled international flights stretching from late October 2020 until at least the end of March 2021.

Although those flights were removed from Qantas' schedule and closed for new bookings in mid-July, the airline has yet to officially cancel them – leaving would-be passengers with existing bookings in limbo.

However, as the cut-off date of October 24 approaches, Qantas is expected to formally cancel those flights – a move which would open the floodgates to requests for refunds covering almost six months of bookings ranging from frequent business trips to family holidays.

(Closing bookings and pulling flights from the Qantas website is a precursor to the flights themselves being cancelled, as happened in mid-June when Qantas cancelled most international flights through to late October 2020.)

Qantas predicts 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.

Qantas says no decision made as yet

The Booking changes section of Qantas' website, last updated September 24, notes that "Our regular pre-COVID-19 international network is unlikely to return until at least July 2021" but also says "because the situation is constantly evolving and may change rapidly, we haven't, at this stage, made a decision to cancel international flights after October 2020."

"This means that customers who have booked a flight in late 2020 or 2021 may not know the status of their flight until closer to their travel dates. We know this is frustrating, however, we don’t want to cancel flights that we may be able to operate."

"Rest assured that if we decide to cancel your flight, we’ll contact you as soon as possible in relation to your options, including a refund. You don’t need to do anything, and you won’t be charged any cancellation fees."

"Alternatively, you can choose to cancel your flight yourself. However, if you do, you may be charged a cancellation fee in accordance with your fare rules."

Refunds vs travel credits

Passengers on flights cancelled by Qantas are entitled to a full refund, although in an effort to conserve cash, the airline has been encouraging them to turn the booking into travel credit which can used on future Qantas flights through to the end of 2022.

Qantas 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, as previously reported, 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.

A Qantas spokesperson previously described its baseline of incentives to Executive Traveller as being among a roster of “special offers” made available to some passengers to add extra value to a flight booking or a credit.

“We know there is a lot of pent up demand for travel and offers like these allow them to do so when they are ready at an even better rate,” the Qantas spokesperson said.

An earlier version of this article cited the refunds could be as high as $4 billion, based on Qantas' own revenue estimates; a spokesperson for the airline has since advised it estimated total outstanding bookings to be around $2 billion as at June 30.

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

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 122

About time they be honest and cancel flights with no intention of operating (closing bookings for many months now). Customers should not be expected to be providing interest free financing to a multi billion dollar company.

Air NZ cancelled flights to March already and QF have said to the share market, even at recent results, that it does not plan to resume until July 2021 or later (A380 not for 3 years or more). 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Nov 2012

Total posts 58

Yes, any other business would be in court by now. 

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 192

Not sure where the cut off date of 24 October was from. 

Sure, the last run of cancellation may have stopped by 25 October but doesn’t mean the official cancellation happy for 6 months worth of flight happened in one go.

Firstly I am not sure there is any obligation to cancel in a minimum period before the flight. Second, the call centre cannot handle 6 months worth of flights in a short time anyway, and third as the domestic (and more profitable) flight booking start to return over the next few months towards end/beginning of year the cash flow issues will be much less of a worry

So it makes far more sense to “drip” cancellation over 6 months plus another 10 weeks of “administrative” process delay for what is essentially less than $4 billion pax’s fund (commercial freight I assume are not prepaid, hence not going to need to be refunded) and not everyone is going to want a cash refund.

The real story will be what proportion is getting a refund, a credit at face value, a credit at 110% or more paid value, a credit at face value plus frequent flyer points, a credit at face value plus double status credit (the latter is essentially making value out of thin air)

20 Oct 2015

Total posts 84

I think it comes down to the Oct25-Mar28 period being IATA's Northern Winter period which all airlines follow for their schedules and also corresponds to airport slot periods.

20 Oct 2015

Total posts 84

Qantas really needs to get a wiggle on here, there are a lot of us business travellers who booked trips well in advance for attending overseas trade shows, conferences etc, and to be honest even if those do go ahead I'm  not confident I would want to be attending them, but I sure do want the option to get my money back rather than have Qantas sit on it for at least another year.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Feb 2015

Total posts 113

 I’m still waiting for my refund 13 weeks after the flight was officially cancelled (July Travel) so dont get excited about your refund after the flight gets cancelled because you have a long long wait to go to actually see that cash 

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 122

http://www.airlinecustomeradvocate.com.au/General/Default.aspx if the airline keeps dragging their feet. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Nov 2012

Total posts 58

I am waiting 6 months and 2 weeks from requesting a refund for a flight cancelled 5 months ago. It’s just unacceptable

16 Jul 2020

Total posts 6

Its now 25 weeks.. no refund yet. OWED for 4 Business airfares. Not happy.

01 Apr 2014

Total posts 92

They are currently indicating 8 - 10 weeks for a refund when you do a cancellation. If you have a flight booked in First on the A380 post Oct, they are already accepting cancellation requests in line with existing arrangements / bonus offers / refunds, given the long term parking of the A380 fleet. I was proactively contacted by Qantas after I had a aircraft change (downgrade) to Business Class on the B787.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Nov 2012

Total posts 58

Hahaha 8-10 months, maybe (I’ve waited 6+ months so far)

29 Mar 2017

Total posts 9

Back in April, you could ask for a refund via a link on You Booking section on the Qantas website. Since late May, the link was removed and you need to join the phone queue if you want to ask for a refund.  The longer Qantas wait to formally cancel the relevant flights, the bigger the pent up demand for refunds, the longer the phone queue if you want a refund.  After all that you need to wait for the processing of the refund.

16 Jul 2020

Total posts 6

corder. It sucks

09 Aug 2015

Total posts 54

Qantas really should not have been let get this far down the track before 'cancelling' flights which have long since been scrubbed anyway. The airline itself has said many many times over that it won't be doing international flying until the second half of 2021, the flights were yanked off the schedule months ago, and most of the aircraft needed for them like the A380s have already been sent into long-term storage, so who is Qantas trying to kid here? The ACCC should have been down on Qantas like a ton of bricks already about actually cancelling these flights and giving people the option to get a refund.

Once Qantas does officially cancel these flights, I hope everybody who was booked on them will realise that they for once have some power in the negotiation and can demand a 20% additional value in travel credit PLUS double status credits AND double points or they'll take their refund thanks very much.

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 122

Agreed. Additional value is what any willing person should expect to provide financing to a multi billion dollar company. This should be at quite a premium given QF is on the public record saying it would have run out of cash in 8 weeks without government support. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Mar 2014

Total posts 155

Just saw my JQ flights to DPS have been cancelled at the end of the month. (Starter Plus)

JQ saying not eligible for a refund due to the fare rules.....cant believe this when they cancelled the flights! I already have $000s in JQ and QF credit...i dont want any more. 

Going to try charge back through AMEX

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 122

It is worth contacting the Airline Consumer Advocate (I put a link up earlier). If an airline cancels your flight, then you are entitled to a refund under law. 

DY
DY

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 May 2017

Total posts 12

I cancelled a bunch of flights on July 3 and was told it would be 8-10 weeks for the refund to process. I rang earlier today and they said that they are now advising a 12 week wait. When she looked into it she realised that it was now over 12 weeks since I requested the refund and that therefore she could get them processed today. Have now received the refund confirmation emails and fully expect to see the cash on my card in the next few days. Only waited about 5 minutes for my call to be answered.

16 Jul 2020

Total posts 6

Not if booked through a travel agent..just awful

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 Sep 2020

Total posts 3

I cancelled 2 business class tickets (value $15000) on 3 March 2020 on medical grounds, nor Covid.  Here we are 7 months later still waiting for a refund.  Qantas won't speak to me as I booked through travel agent.  

All the travel agent can get out of Qantas is:

I spoke to Qantas this morning about your refund and understand the situation is as follows.

- Your refund request was received on the 3rd of March by Qantas

- It was initially rejected by their robot, but they couldn't tell me when or why

- The refund reappeared on the queue on the 20th of June as approved and ready for manual processing

- It's 90% complete but needs to go through 'some more stages' (which is what they told me 2 weeks ago when I emailed you).  I couldn't get anything more specific out of them and I don't have anyone else to escalate this to other than the people I already have. 

- I spoke with them today (30/9/2020) and the refund is still in progress, no expected completion date. I know that our head office has sent a list of 18 refunds needing urgent attention (yours included) to a department manager at Qantas, we're hopeful that we can get these people bumped back to the front of the queue, but as yet haven't had a response confirming anything. 

This behaviour of Qantas is totally unacceptable.

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 122

Recommend the airline consumer advocate or credit card chargeback in this instance. 7 months is ridiculous for what is your money.

24 Jun 2020

Total posts 6

Qantas has been appalling in their misuse of all these funds as I too am waiting on a cancelled USA trip back in late March. I have countless credits from Jetstar, Virgin and Qantas for 6 months of domestic travel cancelled of late and the vouchers have become (in itself) a file on my desk which is laughable.

What gets me is that I had a Delta first class ticket (MIA to SFO) and I went onto their website to cancel it and request a refund (not a voucher) and it was back on my credit card in roughly 24-48 hours plus I made a few dollars as the exchange rate at that time had crashed. Go figure. 

I hope Qantas goes belly up (and I don't mind losing over a million points in saying that).

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Mar 2014

Total posts 155

Indeed, CX refunded me within a month and JAL within a week!

16 Jul 2020

Total posts 6

I absolutely agree. 

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

03 Sep 2014

Total posts 8

I'm waiting on a refund from Thai Air for 2 business class tickets BK to SYD booked through a travel agent . I have no confidence in getting a refund or a travel voucher.  Good look to all QANTAS ticket holders. You may have a better chance than me. Thai Air are in big financial trouble. 

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

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Mar 2020

Total posts 4

I just called QF to enquire about the 10-20% extra credit and/or double status credit for future flight if to get credits on hold instead of outright refund but was told there is no such thing that they are told. So I just opted for a refund to make it simple. Then I was told I wouldn't get my refund until the end of January.  Last time (the Mar/Apr round), my refund was deposited into my credit card within a week!!! But it will be 13 weeks this time round!!!! 


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