Rex has claimed “other carriers” criticised its COVID refund policy, which allows any passenger affected by border closures to get their money back.
This compares with offers by Virgin Australia and Qantas that only allow refunds if the flight is cancelled by the operator, but not if restrictions change banning certain passengers from flying.
General manager of network strategy, Warrick Lodge, said, “We will not give in to industry pressure. Rex has always led the aviation industry in putting the interests of its customers first.”
Rex added it remains committed to a full refund of all tickets affected by any flight cancellation or rescheduling, “without exception”.
“Rex will be offering a full refund of tickets for passengers who are directly affected by current and future COVID-related border closures or travelling restrictions, even though our flights continue to operate as scheduled,” said Lodge. “This even applies to promotional ‘use-it-or-lose-it’ tickets.
“Last year, when millions of passengers had their travel plans severely disrupted, Rex proactively refunded tens of thousands of valid tickets (booked directly with Rex) even without a refund request. We also sent out eight monthly reminders to travel agents to seek refunds from Rex, as we can’t refund tickets directly to passengers who bought their tickets through agents.
“The Rex COVID refund policy goes far beyond the guarantees provided under Australian Consumer Law and seeks to alleviate the considerable hardships our passengers are already facing during the pandemic. It also removes the risk they take in making bookings for future travel during this period of uncertainty.”
For other carriers, rules are complicated by when the ticket was booked and, for Virgin, whether that happened before, during or after its administration.
All airlines offer refunds if they cancel the flights, however, there are many occasions when a flight is not cancelled but a customer cannot board it – due to their home area being declared a hotspot, for instance. Rex’s policy, though, covers these instances whereas Qantas and Virgin do not.
“We knew we were going to lose some customers to the other carriers because of our strong stand on safety but Rex will never compromise the wellbeing of its customers and staff,” said Lodge. “We applaud the recent national cabinet decision to mandate the wearing of face masks on board aircraft and at airports.”