Virgin Australia will extend the expiry date for Covid-19 travel credits to June 2025, following a push by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission which has also seen Qantas scrap its own December 2023 use-by date for Covid refunds.
The airline currently holds an estimated $120 million in outstanding travel credits issued for flights were cancelled due to the pandemic, while Qantas’ holding has been estimated at $570 million.
A Virgin Australia spokesperson confirmed the new arrangements to Executive Traveller, saying its Covid-19 credits “are Standard Credits issued on or before 31 July 2022, for bookings made from 21 April 2020 through 31 July 2022.”
“Customers will now be able to use their ‘COVID Credits’ to book and fly by 30 June 2025.”
Those credits can be used to book travel on any Virgin Australia flight, including international codeshare flights with partners such as ANA, Singapore Airlines, United Airlines and Qatar Airways which carry a VA flight number.
There’s no minimum spend, and the credits are not limited to travellers named on the original booking – although there’s no option to have the credits refunded.
The airline issued over $1.2 billion worth of travel credit across the Covid-19 period, and says 90% of those credits have already been reclaimed.
The mid-2025 extension will be automatically applied to all Virgin Covid credits, although the new expiry date may take up to eight weeks to appear in customer’s Travel Bank accounts.
It’s important to note these are different to the Future Flight Credits issued for flights cancelled when the airline was in administration in 2020.
Virgin also has an estimated $290 million in unredeemed Future Flight credits, which are still set to expire at the end of this year.
However, unlike the Covid travel credits, the airline doesn’t hold any money which travellers used to make those bookings – instead, those passengers were considered as among the legion of ‘unsecured creditors’ when the airline collapsed.
The airline maintains the decision by new owner Bain Capital to offer Future Flight Credits provided a better outcome for customers compared to receiving around 5c in the dollar, but says it will hold to the December 31 use-by date for Future Flight Credits.