Will Virgin refund cancelled Tokyo, Los Angeles flights?

If you've paid Virgin Australia thousands of dollars for a now-cancelled flight to Tokyo or LAX, what are your options?

By David Flynn , September 2 2020
Will Virgin refund cancelled Tokyo, Los Angeles flights?

Virgin Australia is expected to come under pressure to unlock refunds for cancelled overseas flights from this Friday as the airline moves out of administration and into the formal ownership of Bain Capital.

While its domestic network will remain – albeit in a smaller, leaner form – short-range flying to the likes of New Zealand, Bali and Fiji will be off the cards until borders open and demand returns.

However, Virgin isn't expected to restart longer-range international flying for some years and has axed its international fleet of Boeing 777s – which flew from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to Los Angeles – along with the Airbus A330s, one of which was slated for the planned daily service between Brisbane and Tokyo

This has left many Virgin Australia passengers on cancelled LAX and Tokyo flights holding thousands of dollars in bookings for routes which the airline won't be covering in the near future.

Flight credits

Virgin has said that all outstanding flight credits will be honoured under Bain and converted to what it terms Future Flight Credits – although these will be harder to use than conventional travel credit vouchers, with only a certain number of seats on any given flight earmarked for Future Flight Credit redemption.

Read more: Virgin Australia imposes new restrictions on travel credit

While this still allows passengers booked on now-cancelled domestic flights to jump onto another local Virgin flight in the future, those credits will be far less useful for travellers who had booked business trips or holidays to the USA or Japan.

A Virgin Australia spokesperson told Executive Traveller that "for bookings made prior to the Virgin Australia Group entering administration, our ability to provide a refund or remedy under our usual terms and conditions is impacted, and we’ve communicated directly with guests who held bookings on services to and from Los Angeles and Tokyo Haneda."

However, the spokesperson noted that "further information regarding their options will also be made available following the second creditors’ meeting" scheduled for this coming Friday, September 4.

Partner airlines an option?

In a statement on August 5, Virgin noted that while it would "continue to suspend flights to Los Angeles and Tokyo with the intention to recommence and grow long-haul flights when sufficient demand returns, customers will continue to have access to international markets through the airline’s codeshare partners."

This could open up the possibility of travellers being rebooked onto flights to Los Angeles operated by Delta Air Lines, and to Tokyo by new partner ANA.

A spokesperson for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission told Executive Traveller that Virgin Australia’s "terms and conditions prior to administration did not provide for consumers to be given refunds for flight cancellations outside of Virgin’s control, such as COVID-19."

"This means that consumers are not contractually entitled to obtain refunds instead of travel credits."

However, "some consumers may have particular circumstances that mean obtaining any form of credit rather than a refund will result in significant hardship for them."

"The ACCC recommends consumers in this position contact Virgin after the current administration process has ended, to request specific consideration of their circumstances."

Also read: How Virgin Australia 2.0 plans to win back business travellers

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.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 May 2011

Total posts 345

" we’ve communicated directly with guests who held bookings on services to and from Los Angeles and Tokyo Haneda"

No they absolutely have not...

09 Dec 2015

Total posts 8

I can second that!! 

Me to, they are being ridiculous with their self marketing of how good they are being and it just doesn't stand up! 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 May 2014

Total posts 446

Qantas wanted the slot at HND that VA picked up and will now almost certainly not use.  Could see Qantas move on this now considering the  approach of the delayed Olympics.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 Aug 2013

Total posts 174

Didnt Qantas want it for a second Sydney - Haneda service rather then BNE? Would VA possibly allow slot to be used by ANA in interim if they intend to fly internationally in few years anyway and at least have codeshare / partnership remain on route rather then hand over to QF . Still early days but would make sense they keep a rare slot they only just got in house still.

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 75

One slot was given to QF and VA. Neither QF or VA have used this slot, and VA have said they do want to go back at some point. QF isn't resuming flying for another year anyway (maybe more). There is no reason for QF to take the slot from VA.

If I was the Japanese authorities, I would give it to JL. That way QF has 2 slots, JL has 2 slots and NH has 2 slots. Even and fair for all.

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 75

Rest got cut off. Or give it to NH until VA can fly again, that way keeping 3 for NH/VA and 3 for oneworld. 

20 Jun 2020

Total posts 11

Such a weak response from the Australia Condones Corruption Commission.

I guess that means I'm entitled to all the flights I missed due to circumstances outside of my control.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Nov 2014

Total posts 357

I booked BNE to HND in business using points, were all refunded. 

Yes, Velocity is happy to refund these points-based bookings, but the airline isn't offering refunds on cash bookings, which will be the majority of tickets on those flights.

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

29 Jan 2011

Total posts 159

Chris I'm confused by the response.

I had a paid itinerary on a VA ticket from SYD-MEL-LAX-JFK return this past July  booked through AMEX travel. The MEL-LAX sectors were cancelled by VA and I applied for a refund.

I ended up getting paid a refund less a $600 cancellation fee which I then recovered through my travel insurance.

A colleague booked Brisbane-Tokyo business class return, wanted to support Virgin and its new route. He definitely wants a full refund as he has no use for a flight voucher that's only good for domestic routes.

17 Feb 2020

Total posts 2

It's really disappointing for people and companies who have paid for international business class fares. I think anyone who has booked a business class fare will struggle to use the full flight credit. 


Bain Capital has said the flight credit can only be used on certain flights, and seat allocations up to the 31 July 2022. With their network now domestic, and borders looking like they will remain closed until at least the New Year, the value of that credit will be hard to recover.

03 May 2020

Total posts 5

No one has mentioned that USA DOT put out a ruling late April stating ANY flight cancelled going into the USA, no matter what the reason, must be refunded within 7 days.  This applies for bookings made through Virgin to USA prior to Administration in late April.  

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

20 Jul 2012

Total posts 12

I booked a Tokyo flight in Business and VA gave me a travel  credit but with limited options to use it under the current situation there was no way I was going to use thousands in credit in the validity of the credit.

I processed a dispute through my bank and was refunded the full amount.

JASON

16 Aug 2017

Total posts 14

I was travelling on an Ethiad-Operated VA codeshare return to London when the return leg was cancelled by Ethiad as AUH closed to international transfer.

Getting back to Australia cost $16,000 for my family and VA decided to reclassify my return ticket as one-way and only offered to refund me about 20% of the cost, and this in conditional credits which were zero use to me.

I'm out a great deal of money and at the very least VA should refund me the half of the service they (or their partner) were unable to provide.

Amex denied a chargeback and I've been now progressing this via AFCA, who ironically have indicated that they think this is VA's problem, not Amex's.

Any hope I'll see more progress after the next shareholder meeting?

UA

30 Jun 2015

Total posts 22

When VA went into administration all ticket holders unfortunately became unsecured creditors and so ended any, and all, consumer rights.  

If Bain is consistent, international tickets may get a refund offer at the same rate as bondholders, that is around 10c in the dollar as an option in lieu of the travel credit. 

My view is Bain's first priority is to generate goodwill for domestic operations with the hope that the pain has faded by the time international travel beyond NZ becomes a viable business again.

Not sure that is fully correct now the deal has been agreed? I am not a lawyer, but I have had dealings with company takeovers. When you buy a company in Australia and pick up it's ABN/ACN then that companies liabilities are yours. Hence the need to get the majority vote of creditors to agree to the package (terms) put forward. Now it's agreed (and as part of that, they have committed to honouring flight credits for existing ticket holders) it should be all bets back on? 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 May 2011

Total posts 345

The taxes should be refunded regardless as these were not used and therefore not paid to the government

20 Jun 2020

Total posts 11

The taxes will be paid when the future flight credits are redeemed.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 May 2011

Total posts 345

Some of those taxes don’t apply to domestic travel so that makes no sense

28 Aug 2020

Total posts 3

What about business classs tickets for flight to Vietnam 

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

19 Jul 2014

Total posts 23

Bad start Bain, but then didn’t expect any better from you...I'd like my money returned, it wasn’t given to you with restrictions.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

20 Jul 2012

Total posts 12

I spoke too soon

AMEX refunded $3400 only for it to be reversed because VA has issued a travel credit that expires April 2021.

So I have just over 6 months to use over three thousand dollars for domestic travel = useless.


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