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QANTAS: Under pressure to extend flight credit period

QANTAS: Under pressure to extend flight credit period

There are AU$800 million worth of Qantas flight credits out there, most of which are due to expire on 31 December 2023.

Choice, Australia’s consumer advocate group, and publisher of the influential Choice product review magazine want Qantas to extend that deadline by a year. As reported in the SMH, the chief of the AFTA (Australian Federation of Travel Agents) agrees.

Choice reasons that the limitations imposed by Qantas form the reason for the extension. According to Qantas conditions, if the original fight was booked after 30 September 2021, credits must be used against flights costing the same amount or greater. You can’t use them to buy a fare of lesser value. In my experience, trying to book a fare of lesser value just resulted in the fare costing the same as whatever credit you were trying to redeem. Although others report that they just haven’t been able to complete the transaction.

Added to that, notoriously, pricing for some fares purchased using some forms of flight credit is more expensive than those offered if you are paying cash.

a screenshot of a computer
All of these Qantas Passes have been redeemed, but they still appear on my Qantas Bookings page

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The whole flight credit process abounds in confusion. Different terms depend on when the flight was cancelled, whether it was you due to COVID restrictions, or by Qantas. You might end up with a flight credit, or a Travel credit, or Qantas Pass or a Qantas Credit all of which have different rules, and some different redemption processes. And to make matters even more confusing, you can convert some forms of credit to another form of credit.

There is a further complication if you have booked a fare for someone else, in their name. In my experience, you have to use the credit on another fare but in the same name. And that’s even if you booked it for a business through a Business Rewards account.

I find it incredibly confusing. When I go to my Frequent Flyer page, it still lists a bunch of Travel Credits as still existing, when in fact they have all been redeemed. Maybe I am too hopeful, but each time I see them listed, I feel compelled to search my emails for the flight booking numbers and passwords issued to check on the credit. Unfortunately, they don’t miraculously change, They all remain listed even though they have all been redeemed!

a white tunnel with a red tape around it


Makes you just want to ask for a refund – that might be simpler. Well, yes it might be, but it will take forever, and it might be reduced by various fees. There are horror stories of refunds taking several months to a year. Personally, I have only had to wait 90 days, but that often required one or more calls to the Frequent Flyer phone line.

Oh, and some cancelled fares, depending on who cancelled it, when it was purchased, and what classification of fare it was, may not be eligible for a full refund at all. No wonder Qantas customers are getting angry and venting their spleen across every social media channel.

people sitting in chairs in a lounge
Qantas Business Lounge, Sydney 2022

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Now, I have no idea if Qantas set up this whole complex system to delay people’s use of their flight credits, so it could use the cash to secure its bottom line or other financials. Or if just the sheer weight and complexity of the credit and refunds system meant they needed to offer the different processes. Maybe its just Qantas not being competent with technology – they certainly haven’t mastered the programming of their website booking system! For whatever reason, it is immensely annoying, frustrating and convulsing to try and redeem a flight credit for the seasoned flyer, let alone the once-a-year, or once-a-decade flyer.

Certainly, Qantas no longer needs those credits on its balance sheet, nor I have those Qantas Passes on my log-in page. Indeed, CEO Alan Joyce has recently indicated Qantas want customers to use their credits sooner rather than later and is offering discounted fares to entice them.

At the very least, Qantas needs to make it simpler for customers to redeem those credits, and making all the systems and rules surrounding credits operate the same would assist with that. Extending the credit period would also help customers get a similar value for their dollar as they did when their initial purchase since fares are beginning to return closer to pre-pandemic levels.

The ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) is onto this, monitoring the activities of airlines across the board. It will be interesting to see what they report.

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