Life Travel If you decide not to fly due to Omicron, here’s your chance of getting a refund
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If you decide not to fly due to Omicron, here’s your chance of getting a refund

hoW TO GET A FLIGHT REFUND
The Omicron variant has seen demand for overseas travel wane. Photo: Getty
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Surging Omicron cases in the UK and elsewhere have once again thrown international travel into question.

Even with open borders, many Australians are hesitant to spend their holidays somewhere suffering from a severe COVID-19 outbreak.

“The news of the Omicron variant had a clear impact on people’s confidence to book international trips in particular, but we haven’t seen large numbers of cancellations,” Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said in a trading update on Thursday.

Most airlines will refund your ticket if they cancel your flight, but it’s a different story when you decide to cancel your booking.

Finder travel expert Alex Keshen told The New Daily that it pays to book carefully during the pandemic.

“If you’re booking online, pay extra attention to where you’re booking your flights, and try to book them directly with the airline, if possible,” she said.

“Booking cheaper flights through a third-party website can be tempting, but if you need to cancel you can find yourself out of luck when it comes to refunds and credits.”

Ms Keshen pointed to Singapore Airlines and Qatar Airways as two major international airlines that are offering passengers peace of mind through full refunds.

Travellers are now focusing on these airline policies because most travel insurance plans don’t cover border closures.

Here’s what you need to know about chasing refunds if you decide to cancel upcoming flights.

Qantas

Qantas only gives free refunds if the airline is forced to cancel a flight itself, or if a customer pays extra for a Flex ticket.

For cheaper tickets, a cancellation fee of up to $400 applies when a passenger chooses to scrap their booking.

However, passengers can instead easily change the dates of their bookings or request travel credit valid for 12 months.

Qantas Frequent Flyers can cancel their flights for any reason within 24 hours of booking.

Passengers who book using Qantas Points can have their flight changed or their points plus taxes refunded in full.

Virgin Australia

Virgin is allowing customers to make unlimited changes until April 30 for domestic flights and December 31, 2022, for international flights.

If a passenger cancels their booking, cash refunds are only available for business-class tickets, or for Flex tickets with an $80 cancellation fee.

Both of these ticket classes can also opt to receive a travel credit with the airline’s Travel Bank scheme.

If Virgin cancels the flight, then passengers can also claim a free refund or travel credit.

Jetstar

Jetstar passengers who book before February 28 can make changes to their booking free of charge.

If border restrictions change to the point that passengers will be denied entry or forced to quarantine, Jetstar will also offer travel credit.

Passengers can also cancel for any reason, at any time, and receive travel credit if they opt to buy FareCredit on top of their ticket.

However, passengers are usually only eligible for cash refunds when the airline cancels or significantly changes the flight.

The airline says refunds “might also be available” in the event of border closures, but it’s often easier to wait for the flight to be cancelled shortly after any border closure announcements.

Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines allows refunds on most tickets, although a cancellation fee applies.

On the cheapest Lite tickets, only taxes will be refunded.

However, passengers whose flights are disrupted by the pandemic may be eligible for credits or a cash refund under the airline’s COVID-19 Travel Waiver Policy, regardless of what kind of ticket they booked.

“If you’ve booked a ticket directly through Singapore Airlines and want to cancel, you should be able to, subject to having booked a refundable fare,” Ms Keshen from Finder told TND.

Emirates

All tickets booked with Emirates are valid up until May 31, meaning passengers can reschedule at no extra cost.

Emirates also offers full refunds for passengers who choose to cancel their tickets altogether, although they do not refund taxes and service fees.

Fiji Airways

Fiji Airways passengers who want a full refund will need to book the more expensive Economy Flexi, Business or Business Flexi tickets.

For all other tickets, travel credit is available.

Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways offers travellers the choice of a full refund or travel credit if they choose to cancel their booking for travel up until May 31.

Thai Airways

Thai Airways only offers refunds if COVID restrictions directly cancel or disrupt a flight.

in 2021, customers have reported waiting months for their refunds as the airline suffered financial trouble.

“We do not yet have a timeline of when individual refunds will be processed, however refunds will be resumed in order of the refund application date,” the airline said.

The normal rules apply for customers who choose to cancel their bookings.

Cathay Pacific Airways

Cathay Pacific allows customers to cancel their bookings in exchange for a full refund or travel credit.

Scoot

Scoot customers with flights booked until March 26 can request a full cash refund or a travel credit worth 120 per cent of their original booking.

Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines offers free cancellation within 24 hours of booking, but otherwise tickets are non-refundable unless otherwise stated.

However, all tickets can be rescheduled at no extra cost.

Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand offers flexible fares as an extra, which includes free refunds.

The airline also offers a “one-off discretionary refund” for people who are ill or suffering financial hardship due to the pandemic.

Passengers may need to provide supporting documents for their claim.

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