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Rex’s credit policy is ‘much better’ than Qantas, says Choice

written by Hannah Dowling | April 13, 2022

A Rex Saab 340b, VH-RXX, alongside a Qantas A330-202, VH-EBN, as shot by Victor Pody
A Rex Saab 340b, VH-RXX, alongside a Qantas A330-202, VH-EBN, as shot by Victor Pody.

Rex’s decision to refund customers who have been impacted by COVID-related disruptions is a “far better” method than that of Qantas, consumer advocacy firm Choice has said.

It comes as Choice filed a formal complaint with the ACCC over Qantas’ confusing and “potentially misleading” approach to offering flight credits in lieu of refunds to customers impacted by the pandemic.

Customer surveys compiled by Choice showed that customers face “many obstacles” when trying to use their credits, including being forced to pay more for tickets when using flight credit than purchasing a ticket through other means after Qantas quietly changed its flight credit policy in September.

According to Choice senior campaigns and policy adviser Dean Price, the consumer advocacy group has been paying close attention to matters of flight credits and refunds since the beginning of the pandemic.

After running numerous surveys about attempting to cash in flight credits across the industry, Price revealed that “most of the complaints we’re getting are about Qantas”.

“So that’s what led us to make a complaint to the ACCC specifically about Qantas, because some of their terms and conditions, we thought, could possibly constitute unfair contract terms,” he said.

When asked how Qantas could adopt different policies that make it easier for customers to use their credits, Dean suggested looking at rival Rex, which offers customers full refunds even if the customer chooses to cancel the booking.

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“Rex has actually implemented quite a good refund scheme for people who are affected by COVID,” he said. “So their policies in place are much better than both Qantas and Virgin.”

In light of recent “obstacles” that customers, particularly Qantas customers, have faced when attempting to spend their flight credits, Choice is now advocating for the government to step in and regulate the conditions that airlines are allowed to attach to flight credits.

“We recommended that the government actually intervene, to make people’s travel rights much clearer from the start,” he said.

“At the moment, someone could have a $10 voucher for Woolworths, and have a clearer understanding of the rights that come with that, than someone who has $1,000 with Qantas.”

Price admitted that any action taken on flight credits is far too late for the hundreds, if not thousands of customers currently holding onto flight credit with an airline, however, sees that the industry will likely need to hold onto its flexible booking policies into the future.

‘While hopefully, we won’t see another COVID anytime soon, there are always going to be things that come up that may impact people’s travel. Whether that’s something like, unfortunately, war in Ukraine, or COVID isolation, there are often things that come up that cause cancellation.

“And we want to make sure that regardless of what situation may arise, people know what their rights are, and there is a clear remedy for them to enforce their rights if something does go wrong.”

Price also commented on the excessive wait times that Qantas customers have reported in recent weeks and months in order to speak with a customer service representative on the phone, an issue that is only exacerbated by the issues involved with attempting to cash in credits.

“While we appreciate that Qantas has taken some action to increase its capacity in its call centres recently, it’s something that really needed to happen much earlier on,” Price said.

It comes after Australian Aviation reported that ACCC had opened a public consultation seeking evidence that Qantas is raising prices on tickets purchased with flight credits accrued during the pandemic, and follows months-long allegations of price gouging of credit holders.

According to Choice, as of late February this year, Qantas and its budget carrier Jetstar were holding a total of $1.4 billion in unused flight credits and future bookings.

According to the airline, only about 7 per cent of Qantas credit holders have used their credits. For Jetstar, the figure was about 19 per cent.

Qantas began making headlines earlier this year over its flight credit policy after A Current Affair revealed evidence of “price gouging”, forcing credit holders to pay more for a ticket than if they purchased the same ticket outright.

Customers at the time reported paying more than double the price for economy seats when paying with Qantas flight credits, over those paying with cash or card.

Qantas denies the accusation and has indicated any fare discrepancies are due to recent rules that restrict flight credit holders to only purchase tickets of the same fare class or higher.

Comments (6)

  • Warwick

    says:

    What Choice has conveniently not mentioned, for its’ story to have ‘weight’, is that Rex is NOT a member of IATA, so it can do whatever it likes with its’ refunds, credits’ or tickets’.

    QANTAS is an IATA member, therefore all the protocols’ of IATA Ticketing must be adhered to by it.

    Rex is a very small fish in the airline world, & especially compared to QANTAS.

    So both Choice & the ACCC will get nowhere with this ‘go’ at our National Carrier, as they will find that QANTAS has done all correctly.

    Maybe they should be telling the complainants’ to READ the conditions of purchase for their airline tickets’ instead.

    • Paul

      says:

      You missed the point. Qantas can be more lenient but choose not to be.
      They aren’t the airline they once were, sadly.

  • Phil

    says:

    Well then IATA needs to get its arse into gear and come up with new conditions. We had return flights to the Gokd coast cancelled by Virgin. When it came to using those credits they were only enough for a one way ticket. Finished up costing nearly double the original fares😎

    • Vannus

      says:

      Let’s know when you get a reply from IATA, after you’ve sent them your email, slamming how it sets Fares & Ticketing rules, for its’ hundreds’ of member airlines’……

  • Nicholas

    says:

    ahhh Dear Choice,

    so most of the complaints you are getting are from QF, could this possibly be because they are the dominant carrier??

    Choice seem to be using this as a giant publicity stunt but to be honest, a franker, but unpopular approach might have been to suggest complainants read their tickets terms and conditions first.

    The other problem of course is I understand you’ve got the lines full of people who actually know they’re outside the T’s and C’s but feel they are “special” and can you plse waive these just for them….

  • Phil Ware

    says:

    I loved Qantas – they made me feel special. The opposite is the case now, every time I have to deal with them, it becomes a “nightmare”.

    No one will answer the phone, no one will return your call, no one to help you at the airport, ask for a window seat, and you’ll probably get 9A on the B737, no window, just wall. A metaphoric “brick wall”.

    Try and get a refund – no way are they going to pay with money you’ve given them.

    They wouldn’t renew my Qantas Club membership, without another joining fee (hundreds of dollars) – I didn’t realise it had run out. I kept the correspondence up, right to the top – no way – pay up or get out – “we’d prefer not to have you” was their attitude. But like any Australian who puts their mind to it, Qantas can be beaten – I got an ANZ frequent flyer black Credit Card, which gave a year’s free Qantas club membership – I was back, without their rip off rejoining fee.

    Turn up early “you can’t get on an earlier flight, even if the ones leaving sooner are empty – “you bought the El Cheapo ticket, you’ll go when you are booked, and that’s it” is their attitude. Virgin – “Yes Sir, we can get you on an earlier flight – go to gate … your flight boards in 15 minutes”.

    The name I loved, now makes me angry. “We’re not here to serve you” is their attitude. I’m over them. Big Time.

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