How to claim your COVID flight credits

The ACCC sued Qantas in August after the watchdog claimed the airline engaged in deceptive conduct.

The ACCC sued Qantas in August after the watchdog claimed the airline engaged in deceptive conduct. Photo: AAP

If you had your holiday ruined by COVID-19 border closures, you could be eligible for a refund.

It was revealed on Monday that Qantas still owes at least $470 million in flight credits to those people who cancelled plans during the pandemic, with a deadline to claim looming in late December.

Many customers are owed as little as $100, the national carrier says, while other people could be owed far more depending on the value of the flight cancelled when borders were closed.

Qantas has scrapped the deadline for getting these refunds, which originally was set for December. This includes Jetstar.

Virgin Airlines also has a flight credit scheme, which will expire at the end of the year.

So, how do you work out whether the big airlines owe you money, and how do you get a refund?

How to find travel credits

The first step is finding your travel credits and how much you’re owed, which is relatively simple.

Qantas has an online tool that can track down any money you’re owed. You’ll just need to provide details like your last name, email and booking reference or ticket number if possible.

Virgin, which fell into administration during COVID and was reborn with fresh capital, has a similar travel bank system with an online login function that requires similar personal data.

If you booked your trip through a travel agent then you could go directly to them and not your airline.

Qantas, in particular, has advised its customers to approach their agent if they had one.

Flight credit or refund?

Once you’ve worked out how much is owed to you, you need to decide whether to opt for a flight credit or request a refund.

You have a right under Australian Consumer Law to request a refund, but there has been controversy around some people getting their money back amid reports that it has been difficult to do.

Qantas is being sued over allegations it failed to properly issue refunds and misled customers about its travel credit scheme.

Nevertheless, Qantas says that most (though not all) flights can be refunded for cash, which requires calling their travel credit team on 1300 171 505.

If you’d rather use your credit to book another flight, then you can do that too; Qantas has even reportedly offered discounts to some customers who opt to convert their credits into new flights.

Consumer champion Adam Glezer, who has helped many customers obtain refunds or flight credits for cancelled trips during the pandemic lockdowns, said people should be persistent.

“Be persistent and don’t give up.”

“There are a lot of airlines that want you to give up, and considering how excruciating the process is, a lot of people do.”

“It’s your money and your right to have that money in your pocket.”

But beware, the cost of airfares has risen appreciably since COVID and so your money might not get you as far as you think it will.

Mr Glezer said he would opt for a refund over a travel credit in any circumstance that it’s available.

“The prices of flights have gone up significantly,” he said.

“The money you spend is most probably not going to get you the same trip you paid for.

“By getting refunded, you’ve got that added flexibility of travelling whenever you want, wherever you want, if you want.”

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