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Your rights when flights are cancelled

The lifting of border restrictions between New South Wales and Victoria recently is a step-forward in reviving the airline industry. However, borders can also close very quickly if there is a sudden spike in Covid-19 infections, meaning flights may have to be cancelled or postponed. Last year, many Australian consumers waited over six months to obtain a refund on their plane tickets. Thus, it is no surprise that the pandemic resulted in 24,210 complaints to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which is an increase of 497 per cent compared to the same period in 2019. This article will share recommendations on what you need to be aware of before purchasing a flight ticket and what you can do when flights are cancelled.

Before purchasing a ticket

Paying attention to the terms and conditions of your booking is very important because they will determine whether you are entitled to a refund for cancelled bookings due to government restrictions. In some cases, consumers might not be entitled to a full, or any, refund of their booking. Some travel providers offer travel credits rather than refunds. If you receive travel credits, you should check when the expiration date is.

Terms and conditions will vary between travel providers (e.g. Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin). Terms and Conditions can also vary between different time periods. If you purchased a ticket via a travel agent, you should also read the travel agent’s terms and conditions.

When flights are cancelled

When cancellations occur due to government restrictions, consumers are not automatically entitled to a refund as they would be in normal circumstances under the consumer guarantees of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL). However, the pandemic does not permit business to engage in misleading, deceptive or unconscionable conduct.

If you paid by credit or debit card and you selected credit, you can ask your bank for a credit card charge back. Sometimes your bank reverses the disputed transaction with the merchant’s bank in accordance with the rules set by Visa, Mastercard and American Express.


Therefore, it is prudent for consumers to look closely at the terms and conditions of their booking before making payment. If you think you have been treated unfairly by a travel provider, we are available to help you.

Disclaimer: This publication is general information only and does not purport to provide legal advice. We do not accept responsibility for any losses for reliance upon this publication.

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