Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG) has today waived its own COVID-19 related cancellation fees and is offering up to $200 credit for customers who are prepared to reschedule their bookings rather than claim a refund.
In an update on their website and in an open letter to media, Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG) outlined details of how they have eased their cancellation fee policy to lighten the load for customers with existing COVID-19 affected bookings.
FCTG said the waiver, which is in addition to the other waivers and amendments that the company announced previously, “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.”
Here’s the update in full written by Allisa O’Connell, Executive General Manager for Flight Centre Travel Group (FTCG).
“We know that many of our customers are frustrated that their holiday plans have been disrupted or cancelled by travel providers and that you might also be experiencing financial uncertainty as a result of COVID-19,”
“Our business and our industry have also been significantly impacted by the unprecedented travel restrictions that have been implemented to slow the virus’s spread.
“However, our customers remain our highest priority and to support you at this difficult time, Flight Centre will waive its usual Cancellation Fees for bookings where the travel provider (eg airline, cruise line or tour operator) has cancelled its service and you are unable to travel as a result.
“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.
“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.
“Our people will, of course, continue to perform the time-consuming task of processing refunds and following up with individual suppliers on your behalf. We will also do what we can to speed up the process, although this is largely outside of our control and dictated by the supplier in question.
“We are processing refund requests in date order and are currently focusing on bookings for travel up to and including 30 June 2020. This refund process will continue on a rolling basis as we progress into the new financial year.
“With refunds and cancellations, it is also important to note that suppliers’ policies are changing constantly and vary widely. In many cases, they are also reasonably short-term in application.
“This means that if you do have longer-term bookings, you may not yet have clarity around final amendment or cancellation positions and it may be in your interests financially to wait for further policy updates from the travel service provider at this time.
“Many customers are, of course, choosing to postpone their holidays and to leave their money on file with us as a Flight Centre credit that can be used for future bookings, and this might be an attractive proposition for you given the incentives we are now offering for doing so.
“For example, if you choose to keep funds as a Flight Centre credit (less any applicable supplier cancellation fees), you can rebook your holiday before December 31, 202, and travel at a later date.
“If travel during this extended period is not possible, we will gladly refund your booking after that date without charging our Cancellation Fees.
“In addition, when you use your Flight Centre credit, we will provide a complimentary Captain’s Package (per person), valued at $49, as outlined in previous communications to customers.
“Today, we are also very pleased to announce that we have decided to offer an additional Flight Centre credit voucher of up to $200 per person (pp) to customers with international or domestic bookings who choose to keep their money on file with us, as outlined below:
- $2,000 pp of FCTG credit equals $50 pp voucher
- $4,000 pp of FCTG credit equals $100 pp voucher
- $6,000 pp of FCTG credit equals $150 pp voucher
- $8,000 pp of FCTG credit equals $200 pp voucher
“In this uncertain climate, we understand that you may have some concerns about the health of our business. We announced (via the Australian Securities Exchange) on April 6 that we had taken very positive steps to strengthen our long-term liquidity position and were well placed financially to weather a prolonged downturn in demand resulting from restrictions on travel and trading.
“We hope that our steps to support our customers alleviate any ongoing concerns you may have with your travel booking. The health, safety and support of our customers and people remain our top priority and we again thank you for your ongoing support and your feedback to our business.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our people for their tireless work to help our customers understand the options that are available to them and in constantly working to chase refunds from our suppliers.
“We also urge you to be considerate towards our people, as they are doing everything in their power at this challenging time to help resolve any issues for you.”
Allisa O’Connell, Executive General Manager for Flight Centre Travel Group (FTCG)
Today’s update follows a number of scathing media reports in recent weeks since COIVD-19 began on the controversial topic of agent refunds in general with A Current Affair this week again bringing the complex issue to the fore.
Find out more: https://www.flightcentre.com.au/travel-alert/coronavirus
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