How to ensure you get a refund for cancelled travel or events

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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has issued advice for consumers and businesses on their rights and obligations when events, flights or travel services are cancelled due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, or if people wish to cancel their travel plans. 

If events, flights or other travel services such as cruises are cancelled, the ACCC expects that a refund or some other remedy such as a credit note or voucher will be offered in most circumstances. 

However, if the event, flight or travel service is cancelled due to government restrictions, consumer rights under the consumer guarantees may be affected. 

In such situations, consumers may be entitled to a refund under the terms and conditions of their ticket, or potentially may make a claim under a travel insurance policy. 

“Given the exceptional circumstances, the ACCC encourages all businesses to treat consumers fairly and compassionately,” said ACCC chair Rod Sims. 

“We welcome the decisions by many businesses that are already offering refunds to all ticketholders, and expect other event and travel businesses to also offer remedies to all affected consumers when events or travel services are cancelled.”

If a consumer chooses not to attend an event that is still going ahead or not travel domestically due to coronavirus concerns, this may be treated as a ‘change of mind’. The same applies to hotel room bookings. 

Consumers’ rights to refunds in these circumstances will depend on the terms and conditions and any cancellation policy adopted by the business.

“Consumers in all situations should contact businesses directly to request a refund or other remedy such as a credit note or voucher,” Mr Sims said.

“Failure by any business to honour its cancellations or refunds policy may constitute misleading conduct under the Australian Consumer Law.

“We also remind consumers that many small and medium businesses are trying to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak as best they can. We urge consumers to exercise patience and treat service staff with courtesy and respect as they fulfil consumer requests for refunds and remedies,” Mr Sims said.

Have you had to cancel travel plans because of the coronavirus pandemic? Are you hopeful of getting a full refund?

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Written by Ben


Total Comments: 30
  1. 0

    I have been offered a credit voucher by Jetstar, however have been trying for 3 days to ‘chat to a live agent, as this is the only option when asked to click ‘review options’. am afraid my time might run out to request the credit. Each time i get onto live agent, the session times out, without speaking to the agent, then to start all over again! very frustrating

    • 0

      Pammie, I’ve had the same problem. Tried every possible option for two days with no luck. Even tried at midnight (3am EST) without any success. Eventually I came across the possibility to make a complaint where I was able to fill out a form detailing my problem. I now have a case number with a promise to get back to me soon. Soon turns out to be within 14 days and I was due to travel within the week. It’s the best option I’ve been able to get. Jetstar have been most unhelpful sending out emails with a link that doesn’t allow you to cancel as they claim. Our friends and we have decided not to use Jetstar Travel in the future for holiday packages.

    • 0

      ella, i understand! I get you! you are correct, the link gets you nowhere…how bad is that! they should be held accountable. I will try your option of making a complaint and get a case number.

    • 0

      finally got through to Jetstar, and have will receive my credit voucher in the next 2 weeks. a good outcome

  2. 0

    “Have you had to cancel travel plans because of the coronavirus pandemic? Are you hopeful of getting a full refund?”

    Yes, we cancelled a trip involving flights and a cruise because of the coronavirus. We cancelled before the pandemic title was added which brings us under the “change of mind” situation. We cancelled the cruise (which has now been cancelled by the company) and expect to get a 75% refund. We didn’t cancel the flights at the suggestion of our travel agent and this has been a bonus as originally we could not get any refund but now that the airline has cancelled the flights we will get a full refund.

    We arranged travel insurance early January which means that we are covered for the coronavirus cancellations and we are waiting until our travel agent finalises all of the refunds before we ask our travel insurer what our position is with them. As we cancelled and didn’t pay for “cancellation for any reason”, we are not hopeful but it doesn’t hurt5 to ask. We haven’t lost a lot of money considering the initial cost but we were aware of the loss and considered our health more important.

    • 0

      my travel insurance was arranged last november but I’m still not covered for a pandemic

    • 0

      The thing is almost always travel insurance small print tells you are not covered for epidemics or pandemics. Another reason to read the small print when buying travel insurance however far-fetched the situation may seem at the time.

  3. 0

    I had booked a motel room for 2 nights for the Easter Show back in December . The booking was done on line through one of the many booking companies on the internet. I remember it saying no fee cancellation but when I rang to cancel I was told because I had booked with a booking agent I cannot cancel. The room was charged to my credit card the day I booked it so beware when using booking agents. We don’t want to drive down to Sydney for nothing. We would be happy to defer the booking until next year but the motel said that is not an option. Needless to say we won’t book with them again.

    • 0

      It’s not easy booking accommodation on the internet Old B. as the booking companies have priority when you Google accommodation. Add to that the almost impossible way to access the hotel/motel website by clicking on it throught the booking companies page. Access involves searching for the name of the hotel/motel and then accessing their own website. The costs of booking directly with a provider are about the same as booking with a booking company and all of your money stays in Australia.

    • 0

      You can and should go back through the booking agent to cancel. This is one of the reasons I never book through an agent. I may use them to find the ‘best deal’ then choose the hotel I want and book directly with them.

  4. 0

    my trip was supposed to start on good friday and last for 6 weeks with a European river cruise, a 2 week stay in UK and a return home via the trans Siberian railway. Now I cant go I have so many different reactions from suppliers. Credits for the train and river cruise, full refunds from car hire in UK, part refund from UK accomodation, part refund from international flights and no refund at all from internal Europe flights. It seems it’s up to the supplier to decide what if any refund we get. The travel insurance have wiped their hands on the whole deal claiming exclusion paras in the policy.

  5. 0

    Pammie. just keep on trying.took me three days and the majority of the time couldnt even get to the chat page but once I made it there (at 6.30am) I hung on for an hour till they answered and was then able to get the voucher.

  6. 0

    Spent 125 minutes waiting on phone last night to talk to Jetstar. I was forced to return to Melbourne via Qantas after just 24 hrs in Honolulu due to death of nephew in a car accident. Jetstar declined a refund on compassionate grounds & a voucher is valid for 12 months from date of ticket issue (6/6/19). Given flights are grounded until at least May 30th that gives me 7 days to use it. Every other supplier has given full unconditional refund… Thanks Waikiki Resort Hotel, Easycar Rentals & Kualoa Ranch.

  7. 0

    We have booked and payed a deposit for 7 days in Norfolk Island, first week in June, prior to any outbreak. Currently they have closed entrance in, but this is an Australian run colony, but one has to fly on an international flight, which says on return, bang 14 days isolation. What advice has the learned members of “Your Life Choices” got to offer?

  8. 0

    We have booked and paid for a flight to India in September 2020. However India has closed its borders until at least September 2020. I will contact the International airline we are travelling on to see if they will move our date to a later date. Perhaps next year hopefully. we took out our travel insurance in December 2019 so should be covered if we cannot move the date or get a refund.

  9. 0

    Just wondering if you are given the travel credit how long it is valid for ? It’s a bit hard when we don’t know how long this will last . Will just have to wait and see I guess

    • 0

      the credits I’ve received range from 12 months validity to until the end of 2021. I just hope these companies dont go broke before I can use the credits.

  10. 0

    We just had to cancel our trip to NZ planned for April. Qantas gave us a credit voucher, did it on line, no probs. Airbnb bookings all cancelled, one made admin charges but the rest gave us back 100%. Car hire company cancelled and gave us deposit back no probs. Only problem is the airport hotel that I booked for our first and last night as we were to get in late/leave very early. That was made through a booking site and the hotel told us to go to them, they told us to go to the hotel. They both said no refunds. Guess where we wont be going when we finally get to go!?

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