Qantas, the renowned national carrier, has made a pivotal decision to abolish the expiry date on travel credits amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars, in response to mounting public criticism.
The airline currently holds nearly $500 million in outstanding flight credits, coupled with an additional $100 million awaiting redemption by Jetstar patrons.
Originally, these credits were slated to lapse by the year’s end, thus bolstering Qantas’ financial bottom line.
As a gesture to incentivize individuals to utilize their credits, Qantas is also introducing an offer of double frequent flyer points for flights booked between September 4 and December 31.
However, it’s essential to note that Qantas COVID credits won’t be convertible into travel bookings beyond a certain point.
Nevertheless, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce asserted that Qantas COVID credits could be exchanged for cash refunds at any juncture, while Jetstar credits would remain indefinitely valid.
Joyce expressed optimism that this measure would help restore faith in the airline’s procedures, acknowledging that the credit system had encountered glitches.
“We are implementing this change in response to feedback; we recognize that the credit system’s operation was not as seamless as intended,” Joyce conveyed in a video statement on Thursday.
Yet, Qantas confronts not only customer disapproval but also legal complications, as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) lodges claims against the airline for allegedly advertising tickets for 8,000 flights that had already been canceled.
The ACCC is pursuing legal action in the Federal Court, asserting that Qantas engaged in deceptive and misleading conduct by persisting in ticket sales for an average span of over two weeks, and up to 47 days in some instances, despite the cancellations.
Furthermore, the ACCC alleges that Qantas failed to notify existing ticket holders of the cancellations of 10,000 flights for an average duration of 18 days, and up to 48 days, between May and July 2022.
This lapse in communication not only constrained customers’ time to make alternative arrangements but may have led to higher expenses.
According to ACCC Chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb, the investigation into Qantas’ actions has been exhaustive, resulting in these proceedings. She emphasized that the case revolves around the airline’s conduct post-flight cancellations.
The ACCC’s legal action seeks penalties, injunctions, declarations, and associated costs.
In response, Qantas conveyed its serious consideration of the ACCC’s allegations. The airline asserted that its approach to managing cancellations aligns with industry norms and prioritizes customer rebooking and refunds.
The company highlighted that the timeframe under scrutiny by the ACCC coincided with unprecedented upheaval within the airline sector, further pledging a comprehensive response in court after scrutinizing the ACCC’s allegations.
Australia’s Treasurer, Jim Chalmers, expressed deep concern over these allegations.