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Qantas trumps Virgin with better deal on waiving change fees

written by Adam Thorn | February 8, 2021
Virgin Australia opposes Qantas's proposed codeshare with Cathay Pacific. (Rob Finlayson)
Change fees have become a key battlefield in the post-COVID market (Rob Finlayson)

Qantas has trumped Virgin with a significantly more generous policy waiving the fees passengers have to pay to rebook flights.

The new offer means those who book domestic or trans-Tasman flights before 30 April 2021 for travel up to 31 January 2022 won’t have to pay a charge to switch.

Significantly, Virgin’s equivalent offer covers those who book before the 31 March 2021 for travel until 30 June 2021 – six months earlier.

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Qantas chief customer officer, Stephanie Tully, “Customers have told us that sudden changes to border restrictions by state governments are giving them second thoughts about going on holidays or taking a business trip.

“To help manage the uncertainty, we’ve introduced the highest level of flexibility in the market so people can plan their next trip with confidence.”

Qantas initially waived change fees but that was due to end for bookings for travel until 30 June 2021. Today’s six-month extension also allows customers to make unlimited free rebookings, rather than just one.

“As the national carrier, we have an important role to play in helping the industry recover from COVID-19, and we know that given the right opportunity, people are keen to travel,” said Tully.

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“By giving customers unlimited flight date changes for almost a year, we think it will encourage more people to book, helping to boost tourism which is so vital to local economies and businesses around the country.”

Qantas also launched a new sale offering one million cut-price seats with fares from $99.

Change fees and booking flexibility has been a key battleground for airlines in the last year. In January, Rex claimed “other carriers” had criticised its COVID refund policy, which allows any passenger affected by border closures to get their money back.

This compares with offers by Virgin and Qantas that only allow refunds if the flight is cancelled by the operator, but not if restrictions change banning certain passengers from flying.

Rex 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”. You can read Virgin and Qantas’ policies by clicking the links.

Meanwhile, Qantas has also announced improvements to its inflight food and drink options, including news that complimentary beer and wine for economy passengers will now be available across all domestic and regional flights, rather than just available to purchase on certain flights.

Qantas also announced it has now opened the “vast majority” of its 35 Qantas Club and Business Lounges.

“People know exactly what to expect when they book with Qantas, whether its complimentary food and drinks, baggage, fast Wi-Fi or access to dozens of lounges around Australia,” said Tully.

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7 Comments

  • PB

    says:

    When Compass (Brian Grey’s first Compass) was flying, ANZ Bank was its banker, and Compass needed to raise an LC to buy a spare engine. ANZ Bank executives refused to release the money on the basis that the money in the account was obtained by customers paying weeks before flight, so the money was unearned until the passenger traveled.
    How is this situation any different?

  • Steve A

    says:

    Qantas is unable to do as Rex does, and offer full refunds on tickets. Qantas boasts about its liquidity and the availability of billions to draw down.
    But, while this may be true, it is only made available by virtue of the fact that Qantas management are using Customers’ prepayment for future travel, and the billions that Qantas owes to Customers’ in refunds for cancelled flights from the past. If Qantas refunded all of the money due to Customers, then those billions of dollars available to draw down on would disappear.
    I honestly think that it is dishonest, to take money from people to provide flights, and then not provide them, and instead of giving people their money back, write them an IOU (flight credit).
    Imagine going into a retail store and paying for the latest supa doopa whatyoumacallit, and when they say that they can’t provide it, and they only will give you a credit note towards future purchases. There would be an uproar! The consumer watchdogs would be all over them.
    So where are those consumer watchdogs now? Get off your butts and out of your air conditioned palaces, and come down hard on Qantas, and anyone else, who abuses consumers and their rights, and uses the public’s money to fund their businesses. This is not allowed.

    • Adam Thorn

      says:

      If your flight gets cancelled, you are entitled to a cash refund. However, often, the flight will depart, but you personally may not being able to get on it because, say, your home town has been declared a COVID hotspot. This is why these policies exist. I agree though that Qantas and Virgin should follow Rex’s example.

      Thanks,

      Adam

  • Brent

    says:

    Wonder how long it’ll take Virgin & Rex to match this?
    They should remember though, that QF can keep going, with various incentives’, due ‘deeper pockets’.

  • Joanne Mckay

    says:

    When you get a credit voucher Qantas make it that hard for people to redeem. I wanted to use my credit as well as my husbands to book a flight for him only and was only allowed to use his portion of the credit. We had to pay extra to cover the more expensive flight and leave my credit unused.

    • Vannus

      says:

      An airline ticket, or credit voucher, can only be LEGALLY used by the person NAMED on it.

      This would’ve been explained to you at the time, of wanting to use two tickets’ for one person, by QANTAS Reservations staff, but you didn’t include that information in the above comment to suit your purpose of ‘having a go’ at QANTAS.

      This information is also contained in ‘Conditions of Carriage’, if you bothered to read it, & you agreed to, by purchasing original tickets’.
      Passengers’ ‘conveniently’ forget that an Airline Ticket is a Legal Contract, & as such, there’re many rules associated with its’ purchase.

      Next time, be aware, of what you purchase, & its’ conditions’. It’ll save you much embarrassment.

    • Warwick

      says:

      FYI, the rules & regulations about use of air tickets, &/or vouchers, issued by an airline, are regulated by IATA, to which the majority of airlines worldwide belong, including QANTAS.
      So, as a person buying air tickets, you must abide by the rules of that issued ticket.
      I can assure you that by reading ‘Conditions of Carriage’, which you must ‘click’ on stating you’ve read them, makes life easier for you.

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