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My flights got cancelled and I’m so happy

Posted: 15 July 2020 11:36 am
News

Aerial view over the city of Wellington, New Zealand, with a cable car climbing up the hill in the middle.

Patience can pay off when you're hoping to keep your points.

During the coronavirus pandemic, flights are being cancelled repeatedly and frequently. But I've been hanging out for two of mine to officially get the chop.

Back in January, when I was planning my travel year, I booked an August flight to Wellington. It was partly pleasure – Wellington is a glorious city, though I knew August would be icy – and partly work, checking out various airports and flights.

Once the pandemic kicked in, I slowly started cancelling all my flights. But I'd held off changing this one, because for a while it looked like the Australia-New Zealand travel bubble might actually be in place before it happened.

By mid-June, I was a lot less confident that would happen. Also, it was a complex booking: I was flying in on Jetstar from the Gold Coast on a sale fare, then returning on Virgin to Sydney using points. As well as New Zealand looking risky, it wasn't guaranteed that I'd be able to fly into Queensland to start the trip. (I can get there right now, but I wouldn't bet against not being able to get there in August).

By the time I'd made that decision, though, it didn't make sense to actually cancel the bookings myself. Jetstar was offering travel credits for cancelling overseas bookings, but not for flights to New Zealand. If I cancelled, I wouldn't get a refund.

Virgin meanwhile was in the middle of its administration woes, so there was no easy way to cancel that flight and no guarantee the points would get credited back.

So I gritted my teeth, cancelled my accommodation, and waited. My fingers were crossed that both flights would end up being officially cancelled.

Jetstar was the first to pull its flight, sending me an email on 2 July. It was offering the choice of a travel credit (immediate) or a refund (which would require a long wait on the phone). I went with the travel credit, since I can see myself spending that on domestic flights easily. And despite warnings that it might take weeks to process, the credit showed up within two hours.

Virgin took longer, but over the weekend I got the message that the flight from Wellington had also officially been ditched. All the points I'd spent will be credited back to my account, and the airport taxes refunded. The latter could take a month to process, but I can live with that.

The lesson? There's no foolproof way to sort out existing travel plans at the moment. Everything's a case-by-case basis, and you need to check the details very carefully. I was lucky with this one. I still want to get back to Wellington, but that's looking like a 2021 option right now.

Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears regularly on Finder.

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