Travel changes, disruption or cancellation
People facing disruption or cancellation to their travel plans, have a range of options.
Before you pay your deposit for any travel or accommodation, check whether it is refundable and whether any amount will be forfeited if you change plans or cancel.
The Commissioner for Consumer Protection has issued some advice about your consumer rights during the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic.
Read the COVID-19 coronavirus Frequently Asked Questions addressing retail and travel issues and how they are covered by legislation.
Changes to travel
Be aware of the limitations to change your booking, especially once your ticket has been issued. Discount tickets may have various conditions attached to them, such as the inability to change departure or return dates.
When you need to cancel
Cancellation fees can be very expensive. In many cases, the later you cancel the more you will lose in cancellation fees. Check for the conditions relating to penalties and refunds.
If you use an agent, they are entitled to claim a reasonable sum to cover costs if you cancel your holiday, even if you have a very good reason for doing so (such as ill health). The agent may also be obliged to deduct money to cover losses incurred by other parties, such as tour operators.
Contact provider for an update
Contact your airline and/or other travel provider prior to your departure date to check whether your trip has been delayed or cancelled.
Refunds and rescheduling of flights etc.
If your travel plans have been disrupted or cancelled and it’s not your fault, your travel provider may offer a refund or another remedy, such as rescheduling your flights or accommodation without penalty.
If you have also made bookings separate to your main travel plans (i.e. accommodation, tours, car hire), contact the relevant provider as soon as possible to inform them of the situation and negotiate a refund or reschedule.
Please note refunds can be time consuming and take several weeks to process.
Travel provider no longer operating
Your provider may have appointed an administrator or liquidator, whose details may be available on the provider’s website (if they had one). In this instance, you may register as an unsecured creditor.
Consumers are encouraged to discuss insolvency insurance arrangements with their travel provider before booking. Standard travel insurance products available to consumers generally exclude travel agent and intermediary (for example wholesalers) insolvency. More information is available on the costs and insurance page.
If you paid with a credit card (or by choosing ‘credit’ if paying with a debit card) for services that were not provided, you may be able to claim a ‘chargeback’ through your credit card provider.
If you paid by cash, or by eftpos using a cheque or savings account, you may be eligible to lodge a claim for compensation through your state/territory small claims tribunal.
If your travel provider has closed its business, contact our Advice Line team for assistance.
If you have bought travel insurance, you should check the terms and conditions of your policy to see whether you are covered for a particular situation, including your travel provider closing down or ‘natural events’. See more information on the costs and insurance page.
Rental vehicle hire
Rental vehicles are one of the most common causes of disputes in the travel industry. If your hire car has been damaged, you will need to check the rental car contract, which should include terms about damage and your liabilities. Choice website cover some tips on their page Car hire and your rights.
Credit card deductions for damage should only be made after the hire company provides an itemised bill and a reasonable opportunity for you to dispute any charge.
Any insurance or excess fees you have paid in hiring the car may not fully cover you for damage – it will only reduce the amount you may have to pay (usually to between $3000 and $5000) if the car is damaged whilst in your possession.
Often, you will also not be covered for natural disasters. If possible, take photographs of the car before you return it. Make sure you are present when it is inspected.
If you have travel insurance, check to see if it covers rental car damage or any excess.
If you paid for your rental car with a credit card, check your credit card scheme benefits as some provide insurance cover for credit purchases including car hire, remember you must always check the terms and conditions.
If you end up having troubles claiming a refund from a travel provider and you paid with a credit or debit card, you may qualify for a chargeback from your finacial provider. You cannot get a chargeback if you simply changed your mind and didn’t read the terms and conditions or if you paid with cash or eftpos (by selecting ‘cheque’ or ‘savings’). More information is available on our credit card chargebacks page.
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