Flight Centre has agreed to stop charging cancellation fees to customers whose travel has been impacted by the coronavirus outbreak after the ACCC received a large number of complaints.
The travel agency will now refund thousands of customers who, from March 13, were charged $300 per person to get a refund for a cancelled international flight or $50 for a domestic flight. Flight Centre will also offer customers travel vouchers of up to $200 per person for those who choose to keep their money on file with them.
“The decision to waive fees will impact our business, nevertheless we have heard your feedback and we believe this step is the right one for the current economic conditions where stand-downs and job losses are a daily occurrence for many Australians,” Flight Centre Travel Group executive general manager Allisa O’Connell said in a statement on Saturday, according to news.com.au.
“The waiver follows ongoing discussions with customers and regulators, including the ACCC, and will apply retrospectively to bookings cancelled as a result of Covid-19 on or after 13 March 2020 for which a Flight Centre Cancellation Fee was charged. Please note this waiver applies to our fees — we cannot waive fees or conditions that airlines and other third party suppliers impose.”
The ACCC welcomed Flight Centre’s move and said its next step would have been court action if the travel group had not made the decision. This policy will also apply to cancellations fees charged by Aunt Betty, Travel Associates, Student Universe, Universal Traveller and Jetescape Travel (trading as Byojet Travel), which are part of the Flight Centre Travel Group.
“This is a very welcome move made by Flight Centre for thousands of customers impacted by Covid-19 travel cancellations,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said. “We are continuing to discuss issues in relation to refunds and cancellations with the travel sector, and encourage travel providers to treat consumers fairly in these exceptional circumstances.
“While we know some consumers are very concerned about getting a refund or credit for their cancelled travel plans, we do ask people to be mindful of the significant impact that this pandemic has had on the travel industry.”