Virgin Australia has extended its policy of waiving change fees from 31 January to 30 June in light of recent border changes.
Significantly, this makes its new rules far more generous than Qantas, which still gives passengers flight credit but asks them to pay a charge before making a new booking.
It comes as almost all states and territories are still closed off to Sydney, with some also closed to Victoria and Queensland due to recent small outbreaks of COVID.
Virgin Australia’s new policy means passengers who book before the 31 March for travel until 30 June can make unlimited changes without incurring any fees.
Qantas’ equivalent deal has now effectively expired for new bookings, meaning customers have to pay a change fee though will retain the value of the ticket as a flight credit.
“We’ve seen many travellers’ plans impacted by domestic border restrictions and so we’re here to give them comfort when booking a Virgin Australia flight that they’ll be able to change their travel date if they need to,” said Virgin Australia in a statement.
“With a vaccine on the way, coupled with the fantastic way Australians have managed the pandemic, we’re optimistic that border restrictions will be lifted in the not-too-distant future.”
The airline has also launched a new sale, with fares priced at $69 from Sydney to Byron Bay and $75 from Melbourne to Launceston.
The news comes days after Rex 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”.
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.