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.
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.
“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.