Traveller letters: What happens to our flight booking if we still can't travel in 2021?

GOING PAINS

In February this year I booked flights to Milan, returning via Heathrow, with Singapore Airlines (I'm unsure whether all flights are non- refundable or only the London-Sydney flight). On March 13 I received a text message from the airline that our flight had been cancelled and to contact our travel agent to rebook or obtain a refund. Following discussion with our travel agent we agreed to rebook flights and have until February next year to do so.

My query: if Singapore Airlines eventually advise, prior to the February cut off date, that flights to Europe are now available and we can rebook travel, would we be able to decline and ask for a refund if; 1. the coronavirus is still a serious problem in Europe, or 2. the possibility that returning travellers must be quarantined for 14 days? I should point out both my wife and I are in our late 70s and obviously would be reluctant to travel if the situation in Europe is still as bad as it is now.

E. Curtis, Jamberoo, NSW

PERFECT ONE DAY, SHUT THE NEXT

An issue that your readers will be interested in will be the impact on direct flights between Melbourne and Queensland. What will be the airlines' policy with regard to refunds, vouchers and rebooking costs for July and August? Clearly the biggest impact will be on Victorian residents, as the majority of holidays booked have not allowed for two weeks of quarantine. We were booked as a family group for a wedding on August 3, returning August 10, Melbourne to Cairns return. The Jetstar website is now offering vouchers for flights up to the end of July. I hope this will be made available post July 31 as we are unable to plan in the short term.

Simon Evans, Fitzroy, VIC

STARVATION DIET

In reference to your recent article on traveller.com.au about airline food, Rex Airlines only ever serves a sweet or savoury snack followed by tea and coffee. Flying from Broken Hill where there's no airport cafe and the flight time to Sydney is two hours, always over meal times, you will eat it (and maybe bring something else as well). At least with the stop in Dubbo en route to Sydney for now there's two bites of the cherry, so to speak.

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Margaret Lesjak, Broken Hill, NSW

OFF THE RAILS

While much attention has been focused recently on cancellation fees on bookings through travel agents, airlines or tourist operators and the intervention of the ACCC, I am wondering if it was ever legal to charge 100 per cent of a fare if it could not be taken up regardless of the circumstances?

Last November-December my wife and I took a drive and accommodation package via ANZCRO, Southport, Queensland covering a round trip from Christchurch, New Zealand.

Due to unseasonal rains in the south of New Zealand the road from Queenstown to the west coast via Haast Pass was closed due to landslides. That meant that we could not physically get to the train departure point at Greymouth.

Fortunately we were able to get seats on a flight back to Christchurch in time for our return to Melbourne. On making inquiries about a refund of the TransAlpine train component of our tour cost ANZCRO advised that no refund was payable. This response was in keeping with company policy but seemed harsh in light of the circumstances. The train fare was $476 and that was in effect an unearned profit for ANZCRO.

A later inquiry direct to the operator of the train resulted in a statement that if we had booked through a travel agency then we should direct inquiries there. Perhaps a warning to any future travellers is to book direct. Finally, a claim with travel insurers Budget Direct for disruption to our trip was rejected because we got home on time.

Kel Luke, Dingley Village, VIC

HOME TRUTHS

Trevor Taylor (Traveller letters, June 26), in relation to expecting a refund for travel insurance says that "the policy did not cover anything" from the time it was taken out in October 2019 for a travel booking in May 2020. I'm not a lawyer and I don't work in insurance, but I do understand the basics of insurance cover. The policy covered possible events in the seven months that the policy was in place, such as someone becoming sick which would have prevented the trip going ahead. Trevor's logic is like having a house insurance policy, and six months into the policy asking for a refund because the house hadn't burned down.

Kevin Davies, Chippendale, NSW

SIMPLY RED

When last in the US (before COVID-19) I travelled with my daughter from Washington DC to New York by train on regular class and discovered a wonderful travel hack. At the station, look for a Red Cap porter. Explain you need assistance getting on the train. My porter collected all our baggage and slipped us on board via a back entrance about 10-15 minutes before the official boarding time. He stacked our bags, and selected two good seats nearby. I tipped him $20.

We were comfortably seated well before the herd was let on board lugging their bags to frantically run and try to grab a seat and find spaces to store their own luggage. Note that seating is first come-first serve and a lot of couples could not get adjacent seats. We avoided all this by using a Red Cap.

Kim White, Mirboo North, VIC

IDES OR MARCH

Like Patrick Drennan (Traveller letters, June 26), my wife and I had a booking on Emirates, flying from Singapore to Sydney, on May 6, 2020, which was cancelled. I contacted Emirates in Sydney, only to be told that there would be no refund but maybe a voucher. That was early March. On March 11 I wrote to Emirates in Dubai and am still waiting for a reply.

John Kirby, Rockdale, NSW

Editor's note: Emirates announced this week it has processed 650,000 refunds thus far after ramping up processing from 35,000 a month to 200,000. We would recommend continuing to follow up with the airline. 

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