LONDON – Australian carrier Qantas has announced that they will be cancelling all outstanding flight credits by the end of 2023 that were handed out to customers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Double Points If You Book Now
The flight credits were brought in to allow customers peace of mind when travelling during the COVID-19 pandemic and the year that followed, the purpose of them was to allow customers the ability to amend planned flights for free to future dates, or to cancel them and take on flight credit to allow for a future booking, as with COVID-19 restrictions constantly changing not just in Australia but around the globe it was hard to ever know if your flight would even take place, sometimes with just a couple days notice being given before needing to cancel.
Qantas has said it has contacted the estimated 900,000 customers who still have outstanding flight credit to use and is trying to encourage them to book now by offering double loyalty points on flights for these customers.
Qantas Group Chief Customer Officer Markus Svensson said: “The data shows most customers have already redeemed their COVID credits but there’s still a significant number who are yet to put them to use,”
“Our systems were never designed to unwind literally millions of bookings due to a pandemic and there have been some obvious challenges for us and for customers that we’ve worked hard to fix.”
“We’re committed to reminding customers to use their credits over the next year. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve made using travel credits easier, including extending their expiry, and we’re now encouraging the remaining customers to put their travel credit towards their next holiday.”
The real kicker for customers, however, is that the double points will only apply to customers who book flights between now and the end of February next year.
Reduced Services and Expensive Flights
It is not yet known what the mood of the public is on this announcement, it may certainly come as somewhat of a slap in the face to some, with airfares now double the price that they would normally be, with Qantas still not being able to offer its full range of flight services, with staff shortages still like many hurting the airline.
Mr Svensson has that that the timing of this announcement was deliberate stating: “We know that people start planning their next holiday while they are on their current one, which is why we’re launching this offer at the start of the Christmas break.”
But, will this be of any consultation to some passengers who may find their flight credit won’t cover the same costs of the flight they had originally booked? And what about those unable to afford to travel this year, should the airline do more to offer its customers other options rather than losing their money on cancellations that were not their fault?
Figures released by the airline show the following breakdown of COVID-19 credits still outstanding:
- Almost $300 million of COVID credits are made up of bookings worth under $1000.
- 52 per cent of COVID credits are worth between $100 and $499.
- 15 per cent of COVID credits are worth between $1000 and $5000.
- 1 per cent of COVID credits are worth over $5000.
Qantas Moving to Increase More Services in 2023
It is true, however, that the airline is moving to have more services rejoin its network in 2023, which additional A330 aircraft set to start operating domestic services from March, allowing more seats, with services between Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane all increasing by an additional 57 service per week which would see its seat options increase to 93 per cent of pre-Covid levels.
According to the airline around 50 per cent of Qantas’ flights from Melbourne and Sydney to Perth will be operated by widebody aircraft, which will offer customers more ability to fly.
Mr Svensson added further saying: “With our operational performance now effectively back to pre-pandemic levels we’re gradually adding more domestic capacity from early next year. We’re the only airline flying widebody aircraft domestically and we know how much our customers in Business class value having a lie-flat seat on longer flights to and from Perth.
“Your credit doesn’t need to cover the cost of the booking for you to receive double points as long as you use the entire value. For example, a family of four flying economy return to London could each receive an additional 18,600 bonus points just from putting a single $50 credit towards the booking. The points you earn can then go towards your next trip,”