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One of the bigger consumer stories that has emerged during this pandemic is the story of tens of thousands of travelers struggling to get their canceled trips refunded by airlines all over the world. Qantas is one of the airlines that has been less than stellar when it comes to returning customer funds and now the airline is offering customers incentives if they choose to accept a credit for future travel over the cash they’re owed.
According to Executive Traveler, Qantas still overs its customers approximately $2.9bn (AUS4.0bn) and with Australia’s borders closed to most travelers and with the airline having already conceded that its international routes are unlikely to restart much before July 2021, the airline isn’t in a very good position to simply hand over all of that owed money. If you have been wondering why you’re having trouble getting your money back from Qantas, this us why.
With Qantas owing as much in refunds as it does, the airline is finally taking a leaf out the playbook a number of other airlines have been using for a while and it’s offering additional incentives to customers who are willing to take a credit note (valid for future travel) in place of a cash refund.
Officially, this is what Qantas says it is offering:
- A 10% bonus added to the value of the travel credit or
- Double redeemable points on all bookings made using the travel credit or
- Double status credits on all bookings made using the travel credit
Unofficially, a number of travelers have confirmed that they have been offered a bonus of 20% of the value of the travel credit owed and at least one person has said that they were offered 100 status credits if they accepted a voucher in place of the refund owed.
Interestingly, Qantas has said that these incentives are only being offered to “some” passengers, although it has also said that there are no specific eligibility criteria for being offered an incentive. That strikes me as being a little odd. If there aren’t any eligibility criteria, how does Qantas decide who is offered an incentive and who isn’t? Is it random?
I suspect that Qantas doesn’t plan on announcing these measures through its usual channels so anyone who doesn’t follow sites like this one or the bigger travel blogs won’t know that these incentives are being offered and will either continue to hold out for a refund (which may still take months to be processed) or will reluctantly accept a travel credit worth no more than the cost of their cancelled trip.
At the time of writing, Qantas travel credits are valid for travel through to the end of 2022 so anyone who is owed a refund by Qantas and knows that they’ll be able to use up any travel credits they’re issued with ease (once restrictions on travel are lifted), should probably contact Qantas and see what the airline is prepared to offer. If all you get is a phone agent who insists that you’re only entitled to a credit worth the cost of your canceled trip, hang up and call again (you may have better luck with the next phone agent) or, alternatively, point out to the agent that you know that these incentives are being offered and that you’re not inclined to accept a credit for the value of your trip when you know that others are being offered a better deal.
Whatever happens, remain calm and polite as getting angry and shouty isn’t going to get you anywhere. It’s not the agent’s fault that you haven’t received your refund yet and an agent that finds you to be calm and polite is going to be much more inclined to find some way of helping you than if you come over as rude.
Ultimately, Qantas cannot get away from its obligation to give travelers refunds where they’re required by law so no one has to accept a travel credit if they’d prefer a cash refund. Having said that, there’s no knowing when Qantas will finally clear its backlog of refund requests so if you know you can make good use of any credits that are issued in your name, making the most of one of these incentives may be a good idea.