Commissioner's blog: Look for flexibility when booking travel
Just when many Western Australians may have thought it was safe to book domestic travel, a series of COVID-19 outbreaks have led to interstate lockdowns and tighter border controls.
If your travel plans have been grounded by the latest round of restrictions, then hopefully a refund or credit note was sorted quickly. If not, you’re far from alone. Since COVID-19 started impacting Western Australia in March 2020, Consumer Protection has received nearly 1,200 complaints and 1,340 enquiries from people with travel-related issues.
When the cancellation of travel services occurs due to government restrictions, consumers may not be automatically entitled to the same remedy options, such as a refund, as they would be in normal circumstances under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).
Before booking travel, it’s important to carefully consider what the terms and conditions (T&Cs) say about cancellations or postponement, and think about what your options might be if border restrictions remain or are reimposed before or during the dates of travel. For this reason, cheaper options for travel bookings may not be the best choice under current circumstances as they may be quite restrictive on what, if any, remedies are offered if there is a need to change your plans. In the current circumstances, our advice is to look for the most flexible booking arrangements with the best refund options.
If you have booked travel to a jurisdiction where there is a sudden lockdown, don’t immediately cancel your travel arrangements. Firstly speak to your travel or accommodation provider to see what they are planning to do. Cancelling in advance of a decision by your travel provider might be treated as a ‘change of mind’ by you and your cancellation options may be significantly reduced.
Booking future travel can be risky due to the ongoing and evolving nature of the pandemic. A safer option currently is intra-state travel, however we would advise booking within WA close to the date of travel, and continue to be wary of ‘pay now/book later’ deals that may impact your ability to get a refund.
For more information about travel-buyers’ rights during COVID-19, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page or contact us on 1300 30 40 54 or email@example.com if you’re not happy with a remedy being offered for cancellations.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection
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