Qantas urges Aussie travellers to use up COVID credits or get a refund

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Qantas is urging Australians to use their outstanding COVID-19 flight credits, totalling over $400 million, or seek a refund before they expire at the end of this year.

Australia’s biggest airline extended the expiry date for a third time earlier this year after coming under pressure to amend its COVID-19 credit policy and being accused of inflexibility and poor customer service.

Qantas predicts its new ultra-long-haul routes from Australia to Europe and the US will deliver fatter margins.Credit: Oscar Colman

The carrier is hoping to incentivise bookings by offering double Frequent Flyer points to customers who book a flight using COVID-19 credit before July 31.

“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.

The airline has made a number of changes to its booking system to make it easier for customers to book with their credit, Svensson added. The $400 million figure has halved from $800 million in February this year, with the original figure at $2 billion in the two years to October 2021.

Most of the outstanding credit, about 80 per cent, can be claimed as a refund instead. Customers who booked directly with Qantas can contact the airline to request a refund, while those who booked through a travel agent have been told to get in touch with their agent.

The airline has also launched a ‘Find My Credit’ tool on its website to help Qantas and Jetstar customers find their credits using their surname, email address, or original booking reference of up to three years old.

Customers who booked through travel agents can also use the tool to find their ticket number and travel agent details.

“Qantas has one of the most flexible COVID credit policies of any airline, including among our global peers, and we’ve extended the booking expiry date three times,” said Svensson.

“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.”

COVID-19 credits can be used for trips that occur any time between now and December 2024, but travellers must make the booking by December 31 this year, the airline added.

From late October, Qantas will increase its volume of flights from Sydney and Melbourne to international destinations such as Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, and more in a move expected to add 1 million seats.

The airline recently resumed direct flights from Melbourne to Hong Kong and Sydney to New York, routes that had been on pause for three years due to the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Virgin Australia has given the assurance that passengers that flights will not suffer disruptions despite hundreds of its engineers gearing up for an airport strike expected to start on Tuesday.

Almost all of Virgin’s licensed engineers, employed by Virgin Tech and members of the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers’ Association, have voted in favour of the protected industrial action over pay and conditions.

Virgin said it was confident services will not be affected by the planned strike.

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