Qatar Airways extends flexibility
Qatar Airways has announced that it will offer passengers unlimited date changes and fee-free refunds for all tickets issued before 30 April 2021 for travel completed by 31 December 2021.* The airline’s latest enhancement to its industry-leading flexible booking policy has been designed to continue providing customers with peace of mind that they can change their plans with ease.
The airline is also making the option to exchange tickets for a travel voucher with 10% additional value a permanent feature for all customers booking travel via qatarairways.com. The process for redeeming a travel voucher is quick and easy – passengers apply online and receive the voucher within 48 hours. I think this is such a great suggestion and something positive to come from the pandemic. Knowing you can always get a refund via a voucher is a clever marketing ploy as it would encourage me to book if I was dithering about an offer.
Qatar Airways has also announced that it has refunded over £92m to UK customers since March this year, underlining its commitment to supporting passengers throughout the pandemic. The airline has paid out over USD $1.2 billion in refunds to almost 600,000 passengers during this period. The airline has dealt with an unprecedented number of refund requests and continues to process all new refunds back to the original form of payment in less than 30 days.
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “Throughout 2020, we have provided customers the ability to modify travel without penalties as a result of the disruption to global travel caused by COVID-19. As we look forward to the possibilities of travelling again next year, Qatar Airways will continue to be by our passengers’ side, offering continued flexibility throughout 2021 as the airline they can rely on.”
You can find full details of Qatar’s Travel with confidence policy here.
CAA gives further protection for refund vouchers
One of the issues with taking a voucher in these uncertain times is what happens if the company goes bust. If you paid by credit card this may offer some protection but it is not certain depending on the circumstances. The CAA has been offering ATOL protection for vouchers and has decided to extend the period of coverage again. ATOL provides protection for package holidays including BA flight + hotel in case the operator goes bust.
The protection originally applied to those issued between 10 March 2020 and 30 September 2020. This was later extended to 31 December 2020. They have now been extended up to 31 January 2021, but this is nowhere near long enough given the current situation. To qualify for the protection the voucher must be for a cancelled ATOL-protected booking and must have been cancelled by the tour operator due to the coronavirus pandemic. The voucher must be able to be exchanged for cash at a later date. According to the CAA, if a consumer chooses a refund credit note or voucher for a holiday cancellation, they should have the option to convert it to a cash refund at any point and must do so before 30 September 2021. This will only cover a very small number of bookings but it is better than nothing.
Paul Smith, consumer director at the CAA, said: “We are aware of the challenges the travel industry is facing, and we have therefore taken the exceptional decision to extend Atol protection for refund credit notes issued up to 31 January 2021.
“Consumers should feel confident accepting refund credit notes for cancelled ATOL-protected bookings where the option is suitable for them. While Atol holders are able to continue offering refund credit notes in good faith, they must also offer consumers the option of a full cash refund.”