How to get a refund when a flight is cancelled

I had a booking to fly to Hobart next month (from Sydney, full fare economy). Qantas has now ‘had to make changes’ in my flight. In fact they have cancelled the direct flights between Sydney and Hobart. They suggested (or rather I suspect their computer suggested) that I go via Melbourne, which would mean a total travel time of more than 11 hours. I read all the rules and see that I am legally entitled to a refund. But how do I claim that refund? There seems to be no way to do so online - you just get caught in a loop. But when you ring, you can’t get through to anyone. I tried last Wednesday and was told that the wait time was over an hour, so I hung up. Today I waited for half an hour (listening to repeated advertisements for Qantas services) and was then cut off - though not without a survey being administered to me, which allowed me to report being very unhappy with the outcome of the phone call. So does anyone have a suggestion for how I could get through to them? If I wrote them a letter, would they read it?


Their website warns that if you cancel a booking they can charge you a cancellation fee. Otherwise that would be the obvious solution. From what I can gleen spending your days or nights on the 24x7 number to speak with a rep appears to be the only way, and they are quoting 8 weeks to process refunds now!

If you are on Facebook sometimes that works to get information via the message feature. Ask the question there.


Did you book directly with Qantas or through a travel agent/non-Qantas booking website? If it was the later, you should contact the agent/booking site directly to assist with receiving a refund. More information here…

Qantas website seems to indicate for booking made directly through Qantas, they will make contact on how you would like to resolve the change in flight…including refunds. Have they done this if you booked directly with them? Details might be included in the notification email about the changed flight.

Are you a QFF (Qantas Frequent Flyer)? Try logging into your QFF account to see if it provides different communication pathways or opportunity to manage flight changes…which may not be available to non-QFF members.


In this case, Qantas has cancelled your flights and offered you a substitute. You are entitled to a refund, and they have generally been refunding these fee free for some time. However they hide the refund option, and no you can’t do it online. You have to ring up and wait forever. You can recheck for any fee when you finally get through.

If you used an agent you have to request via them and they may charge a fee.

cheers skip


I had trouble with Qantas a few years ago. They do not reply to web contact and they never answer the phone (in my experience). I asked Choice for help and they gave me the contact details of the airline ombudsman and ‘words’ to use when in communication with Qantas. Qantas responded to me immediately and sorted out one problem, which led to another. When I tried to use the usual channels to contact them again - nothing, so I had to go through the ombudsman again. I got satisfaction this time. It is sad that airlines and telcos all think that it is okay not to provide a customer service that works.


We were in Fiji recently and had our Virgin flight back to Sydney cancelled, and re-scheduled for the following day. When we went to board, they put us in Economy even though we had paid for Business Class seats, as there were no Business seats available. Upon return to Australia, I put in a claim with Virgin.

How long is a reasonable amount of time for Virgin to respond? It is approaching three weeks and I personally think that should be enough time.


Virgin’s T&C for refunds is at

as for their published response times (item 13) in the following

Up to 21 calendar days for sectors that do not include US sectors where you have booked directly with Virgin Australia not including bank processing time. it would not be surprising if they miss it in these COVID times though.


There are many reports in the media (and even posts in the community) that it is taking considerable time for refunds to be processed by the airlines. In some cases many months or more.

Did you receive confirmation that your claim was received, say by webpage message, email or SMS? The confirmation may provide information on current timeframes as well as a claim reference number. This reference number can be used to follow up Virgin in relation to the progress of you claim. If you are concerned with the time taken, and it say is causing financial hardship, it may be worth calling them for a progress update.


Thank you for the replies. I did get the auto-acknowledgement but it doesn’t give a time frame. I’m happy to wait for a while.


Well, I finally got a reply from Virgin Australia. They acknowledge my original flight was cancelled and that although I paid for a Business Class seat, I was not given it (none available).

Although the price difference for a Nadi - Sydney flight in Business and in Economy is about $700, they offer us $250 per person.

What I found most interesting is this quote from Virgin:

"Whilst our Customer Disruption team do their best to allocate you the same or a similar seat when re-accommodating you onto another flight, due to a number of factors such as existing capacity on the new flight, this isn’t always possible. It is for this reason we outline in our Conditions of Carriage, that we do not guarantee that you will be seated in a particular seat even if you have paid for it."

Is this correct? They don’t have to provide what you paid for?

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You have just said it is. Also see section 7.3 here.

The purchase is subject to terms and conditions. Airlines overbook (it is rare in Australia but occurs) or their flight schedule changes for some reason (delays, cancellation etc) which can result in overallocation of particular seats, especially if two flights are merged. This is when these sorts of conditions are often triggered.

I would be pushing for $700 assuming you have evidence that this is the per person differential between the business class ticket you paid for and the economy seat on the same flight. You paid for business class, but through no fault of your own, you were bumped into economy. I expect that you didn’t receive any of the benefits of the business class seat in economy, which is why you should expect a differential refund. If you received some of the benefits (such as access to business lounges at airports, same on flight service etc), then it is possible that a reasonable refund is less than the difference between the ticket fares. Notwithstanding this, it is hoped that Virgin offers a full refund of the differential as goodwill and 'compensation, even if you did enjoy some of the benefits of a business class traveller.

Here is a suggestion that worked for me when Air Canada refused a refund on a flight that they cancelled - if you booked on credit card, go to your card provider and request that they reverse the charge for a service not provided (by the carrier)

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