COVID-19/Coronavirus Cancellation Policy
Over the past 2 months we have been closely monitoring the global spread and impact of Coronavirus/COVID-19. The situation is unprecedented in the travel industry as airlines adapt to the changing conditions enforced by both adverse commercial conditions and government regulations, whilst keeping the safety of their customers and employees at the forefront. As an agency we have now moved our consultants to be working remotely from home for the foreseeable future.
We understand that the uncertainty around future travel plans is disruptive and stressful to our customers as well as our staff. Since the beginning of the year we have managed several thousand changes to airline schedules/networks on behalf of our customers and we thank you for your patience whilst airlines have adjusted their future flight schedules. This has placed a huge strain on our resources as we keep on top of the ever-changing environment, this work has been undertaken without cost to our clients in what has been a trying time with airline hold times in excess of 2 hours and sometimes delays in airlines releasing their re-accommodation policies, which they tend to then amend without notice.
Due to the spread of the virus, most airlines have now released flexible rebooking options to allow our clients to rebook to future travel dates in 2020 with a waiver of the reissue fees. Our consultants are at hand to assist with this rebooking and that will be done without charge to our customers.
In light of the number of change and cancellation requests, I wanted to explain further regarding our company policy on changes and cancellation so that our clients understand their options.
The standard terms of your booking will be listed on your booking document, sent to you before you confirm your flights with payment, we would appreciate locating this in your existing emails to ease the load on our consultants at this time. This will typically feature change fees of $200 to $500 and cancellation costs from $700 to $1200, depending on the travel class. Those fees incorporate both an airline reissue fee and fees from our agency. Some sale fares may be listed as non-refundable, especially earlybird deals from Lufthansa/SWISS booked in Sep/Oct 19 or Jan/Feb 20. However, those non-refundable airfare conditions may be waived in certain circumstances, or provide options to defer travel to later dates per below.
Agency change and cancellation fees are necessary in a retail environment as they cover some of the non-refundable overheads associated with operating the business. These include costs from our global distribution software, ticketing consolidators, non-refundable merchant fees [average of 1.5% value of the total booking across all card types] as well as standard business operating overheads such as rent, wages, insurance, technology costs, utilities and the like.
Typically, a ticket change and reissue will involve an additional 3 hours of work from start to finish for which we charge a very small amount, but this time is nearly doubled at the moment due to airline servicing delays. In comparison, if you call Qantas for a change to an international booking, they charge $88 and you may be on hold for over 2 hours so we always do our best, irrespective of current circumstances to provide a very low-cost option to amend booked travel.
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, airlines are offering options to defer or cancel upcoming departures. In the event of cancellation this can result in a refund of the full wholesale ticket price [the price we pay the airline for your flights] should the airline’s waiver policy be applicable. This would leave the agency cancellation fee component of your booking terms applicable, however, we are reducing those costs to our clients as much as possible, whilst ensuring the long term viability of the business with credit options.
- No agency change fees charged for deferment of existing travel to dates later in 2020, when an airline’s change fee waiver policy is applicable. If you are currently booked for the coming months we would encourage you to take this option to postpone flights to later in the year.
- Waiver of agency change fees for new bookings, when an airline is offering a change fee waiver as part of a new ticket purchase.
- Should an airline waiver policy not cover your travel dates at the time of cancellation, your standard cancellation terms will apply.
- If your flights are cancelled with no reasonable alternative* and/or covered by an airline refund policy due to COVID-19, the deposit amount of $150 per person remains non-refundable per our standard booking terms and conditions. The minimum deposit offsets a portion of our reasonable overheads and costs managing your booking. However, we understand the distress caused by these travel disruptions and this amount can be used as a credit towards a future booking# finalised before 31 March 2021. The balance will be refunded once we receive the wholesale refund from the airline, we cannot process any refunds until they are paid by the supplier. This process typically takes 6 weeks but with the huge influx of global refund requests we are expecting airlines to have significantly longer refund processing time frames. Rest assured that we operate a Client Trust Account per standard ATAS accreditation requirements and that we must reconcile our ticketing statements on a weekly basis.
#Future bookings must utilise an airfare marketed by Complex Travel Group brands (e.g. round the world ticket or return business class or premium economy airfare). Travel can be any time in 2021/2022, as long as the new ticket is purchased, less deposit, prior to March 2021.
*Reasonable alternatives to cancelled flights due to schedule changes are defined as…
- Comparable flights one day either side of the original date (including via an alternate transit gateway). Or,
- Alternative flights at different times on the originally booked travel day, with a max of 1 additional transit [e.g. domestic Australian transit] of less than 4hrs. This may also include a change of airlines to reach your destinations. For example, should you be booked on Qantas flight that is cancelled, and United or Virgin have a comparable flight which the issuing airline will re-book to, then the tickets will be reissued to that reasonable alternative to reach your destination.
We thank you for your patience at this difficult time as we navigate the situation to ensure our long-term viability. We will be ready to bounce-back once the situation has subsided and continue to deliver the best value itineraries on the market as we have for the last 12 years.
Mark Trim, Director
Complex Travel Group Pty Ltd, Trading as RoundAbout Travel