Nobody likes a cancelled flight, but whether you fly a little, or a lot, it’s bound to happen to everyone at some point. In 2018, the Australian Government estimated that 2.1% of all flights across Australia were cancelled. So, if you’re one of the unlucky ones affected by flight delays or cancellations, what compensation are you entitled to?
If the airline is at fault for the cancelled flight, i.e. mechanical or crewing issues, the airline can either provide a full refund, credit voucher or a replacement flight. Additionally, if your cancellation means that you now need to wait overnight, some airlines will cover your accommodation, transport and food costs.
Here is an outline of the 4 major Australian airlines and what compensation they provide for cancelled flights.
Virgin: Virgin will place travellers on the next available flight if the service is delayed for more than two hours. If Virgin cannot make suitable alternative arrangements, a refund will be given. Virgin will also provide refreshment vouchers while waiting at the airport. If you cannot fly out until the next day, Virgin will provide up to $220 per night for accommodation and up to $50 per night for meals as well as airport transfers.
Qantas: Qantas will place travellers on the next available flight if the service is delayed significantly or is cancelled. They will also provide a full refund if alternate flights are unsuitable. Qantas provide meal vouchers while you wait at the airport of up to $50. If you need to stay overnight, Qantas will provide accommodation of up to $200 a night.
Jetstar: Jetstar will place passengers on the next available flight if cancelled or delayed for over 3 hours. Like Virgin and Qantas, Jetstar will provide a refund if no alternative flights are suitable. Jetstar provide meal vouchers for delays over 3 hours or will reimburse travellers for food costs if the delay is overnight. Jetstar will provide up to $150 per room plus airport transfers if you are not at your home port.
Tiger: Tiger will provide alternate flights for any delayed on cancelled flights and will also provide a refund if the alternate flights aren’t suitable. Tiger provide up to $120 for accommodation per person per night if you are not at your home port.
If the cancellation was out of the airlines control such as bad weather, airline strikes or natural disasters, they may compensate the cancelled flight, however, are not responsible for any costs or expenses you may incur as a result of the delay.
Virgin: Virgin will place passengers on the next available flight if the delay is for more than two hours. If they cannot make suitable alternative arrangements, a refund will be issued. Unfortunately, Virgin will not pay for meals, refreshments, accommodation or transfers if your travel plans are affected.
Qantas: Will book you on the next available flight and will offer a full refund if alternate services aren’t available. They also provide up to $200 for overnight accommodation.
Jetstar: Will place travellers on the next available flight if the delay was for 3 hours or more. They do not provide refunds but instead offer credit vouchers for the value of your flight. Jetstar do not provide compensation for meals, refreshments, accommodation and transfers.
Tiger: Will place you on the next available flight regardless of the delay length. Like Jetstar, Tiger do not provide refunds but instead, credit notes which are valid for six months.
If you’re flying internationally and miss your connecting flight due to delays or cancellations, airlines may or may not provide compensation.
If both airlines are part of the same codeshare agreement, you should have no problems securing an alternate flight at no extra cost. But, if a codeshare agreement does not exist, you will more than likely be required to pay for a new flight. Unless, you booked with a qualified travel consultant. Our friendly team can assist in organising new flights and work with your travel insurance provider to secure compensation.
Alternatively, the Montreal Convention can provide compensation if you are flying between two signatory counties. But more often than not, airlines will try to prove that they did everything in their power to prevent your losses and avoid paying compensation.
For the best chance of securing compensation, we recommend informing your airline of your situation immediately and provide all relevant documentation. If the airline happens to reject your claim, we recommend consulting a legal professional or lodge a complaint with the Airline Customer Advocate.
If you run into trouble while travelling, we are more than happy to help. Wherever you are in the world, you can email a friendly Travel Consultant, or you can phone our Reservations department on 1300 883 887. If you are calling from outside Australia, call +61 7 3804 8411 and ask for the Consultant handling your booking.