Airline customers seething at refund policies
RETIREE David Evans wants a refund on flights he can no longer take due to COVID-19, but, like many Australians, he's struggling to get his money back.
The 69-year-old booked four return tickets to Los Angeles in July for $1000 each through Flight Centre, travelling with American Airlines.
But after cancelling his trip because of the pandemic he was told by his travel company he would have to pay a $300 fee per passenger to get his money back.
"It's absolutely ridiculous," Mr Evans said. "It's nobody's fault that this happened but it's not good. It's going to cost us just because it says it in the terms and conditions, which nobody ever reads.
"I don't want a credit, I want my money back because I'm worried about the future of the company."
His options are to get a credit from Flight Centre, a credit from the airline or a refund with a hefty fee attached.
Just last week airline giant Virgin Australia went into voluntary administration and the future of the airline remains in limbo.
They are currently flying a minimal domestic schedule of commercial services until early June.
Customers who have scheduled flights affected by the COVID-19 crisis and have a ticket for travel up to September 30, 2020, can change their booking or request a travel credit without a change or cancellation fee.
Flight Centre spokesman Hadyn Long said passengers impacted by the pandemic could "leave their money on file to be put towards future bookings, without being charged any fees by Flight Centre".
"If customers request a refund, charges do normally apply, although they are being waived or reduced in some cases," he said.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's deputy chair Delia Rickard said it came down to the contract on the particular fare type as to what people were entitled to.
"If it's a fare that says no-fee cancellation and you have cancelled it then you should be entitled to a refund," she said.
"We are encouraging all airlines and travel companies to treat customers fairly and particularly those suffering particular hardship."
Ms Rickard said in most circumstances customers would be entitled to a credit note or a refund.
"Businesses are not allowed to change the terms and conditions after the booking has been made," she said.
Originally published as Airline customers seething at refund policies