Qantas has launched a new online tool to help customers access unclaimed COVID-19 flight credits before they expire at the end of the year.
The “Find My Credit” tool can track bookings up to three years old that may have changed several times due to the pandemic. It comes as the total value of unclaimed Qantas flight credits dips towards $400 million, down from the initial $2 billion in March 2020.
Of this $400 million, $250 million are for flights booked direct with Qantas itself, while $150 million are for flights booked through travel agents. Qantas says that 80 per cent of these credits are refundable, with 62 per cent being worth less than $500.
“We know the credits system has been challenging because of the sheer complexity of putting millions of bookings in a holding pattern for up to three years,” said Qantas chief customer officer Markus Svensson.
“We’ve made a number of improvements to our systems along the way and that’s clear from the amount of credit that has already been claimed.”
Svensson called Qantas’s credit policy throughout the pandemic “one of the most flexible of any airline”, and said the Flying Kangaroo has extended its expiry date three times.
“The majority of the COVID credits we hold can be converted into refunds, but we can’t do it automatically as the credit cards used for the purchase as far back as 2019 may have expired.
“We’d obviously like customers to use their COVID credit to fly with us, but if they’d prefer a refund, we’re putting additional processes in place to help with that.”
The national carrier has faced huge criticism over the last few years for its handling of COVID-19 credits during and after the pandemic.
Last year, for example, consumer advocacy organisation Choice even filed a formal complaint with the ACCC after consumer surveys highlighted the “many obstacles” faced by customers seeking to cash in their credits. Choice said one survey showed nearly a third of people trying to use flight credits to purchase new flights were forced to pay more than the cost of the original flight.
Qantas denied the accusation and indicated fare discrepancies were due to rules that restricted flight credit holders to only purchase tickets of the same fare class or higher.
The airline last extended its credit expiry deadline in March after pressure from Choice, with credits now available for use until the end of 2023 for flights departing before 31 December 2024.
The “final extension” will alleviate criticism that the decision to cancel credits would see the airline effectively profit from airfares being far higher than pre-pandemic.