Can COVID cancellation policies be trusted?

Quinn has been scared by Victoria’s snap lockdown and wants to know if he should still book a trip interstate.


Q. Quinn
I was close to booking flights and accommodation for a small trip for me and my wife to Brisbane when Premier Dan Andrews announced a snap lockdown last week. All of the providers say that they offer free cancellation policies if the trip can not be taken for COVID-19 related reasons, but how trustworthy are these assurances? What do I need to look out for when making a booking these days, I don’t want to get caught out?

A. Generally, you can trust the COVID cancellation policies of most providers, especially if you are looking to travel within Australia.

Before booking any travel, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) advises that travellers go to the terms and conditions page on the travel company’s website to find out their policies on cancellations and refunds, which it sounds like you have done.

It is also important to note that there may be different policies for different travel periods, so make sure that you check the policy that applies for the dates that you want to travel. If you book through a travel agent, the policies of both your agent and travel suppliers will apply.

The terms and conditions should list your rights if your trip is cancelled for any of these three reasons:

  • you cancel the booking
  • the business cancels the booking
  • the booking can’t proceed due to travel restrictions.

If you are really worried, you can confirm the terms and conditions with the business by asking them what remedy you will receive (full or partial refund, or credit note) and get them to point to the specific terms of your booking that cover each cancellation scenario (the remedy may be different for each of the three cancellation scenarios).

The ACCC also recommends looking for businesses that offer payment dates for travel closer to departure when there is more certainty about travel proceeding and warns travellers to beware of businesses selling ‘risk free’ or ‘100 per cent refund guarantee’ offers, as these may misrepresent your right to a refund for cancelled travel.

Are you nervous about making a travel booking due to the pandemic?

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Written by Ben

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