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How to get a refund for non-refundable flights

Most travel insurance providers will cover you for non-refundable flights, but you’ll need to prove that you can’t be reimbursed elsewhere.

What you need to know

  • Travel insurance can cover non-refundable flights if the cancellation is outside of your control.
  • You will only be covered if you cannot get a refund from the airline.
  • Travel insurance can fully reimburse you for the flights – depending on the cancellation benefit limit.

If you have travel insurance, it's possible to get your money back if;

one

You bought the policy before the known event occurred

two

You have cover for cancellations costs

three

The cancellation is outside of your control

If you find yourself in this position, make sure to keep all your receipts, have proof that your expenses were non-refundable, and make a claim directly with your travel insurer.

Can I get a direct refund from the airline?

This depends on your airfare but, generally, if your flight is non-refundable then no. An airline may consider waiving cancellation fees for extenuating circumstances like a death in the family, but not if you've just changed your mind.

If your non-refundable flight is cancelled by the airline, they may offer you an alternative option, a credit value or a refund - if you're lucky.

How do I know if my flight is non-refundable?

There are a few ways to figure out the rules of your airfare;

  • During the booking process, your change and cancellation fees will be outlined. If you're booking online, pay extra attention to pop-ups and extra links that could lead you to this information.
  • Check "Manage My Booking" - Most airlines have an online portal where you can access the details of your booking.
  • Check your original e-tickets, booking confirmation or any other emails/paperwork regarding your booking.
  • Check with your airline, online aggregator (like SkyScanner and Webjet) or travel agent. It's important to refer back to the company that you booked with as airfare rules can vary.

Rules on whether you can get a refund vary by airline, and cheaper tickets are generally less flexible. But if an airline cancels your flight altogether, it has to sort an alternative for you or give you a refund. Your insurer will usually only step in after the airline options are exhausted - such as if the airline itself stops operating altogether.

Cancellation and refund policies of major Australian airlines

Searching through terms and conditions can be tricky, not to mention boring. So we did it for you. Here's a brief summary of refund policies in place with major airlines.

Cancellation fees vary based on your destination and fare type, so we've highlighted the maximum fee the airline could charge to cancel an international return airfare.

AirlineMaximum cancellation feePolicy
Qantas$500 to Non-refundable"Cancellation fees may apply and these vary depending on your point of origin and destination."
Virgin Australia$400 to Non-refundable"All bookings can be cancelled; however some bookings are

non-refundable and may attract cancellations fees and surcharges."

Jetstar Airways$50 to Non-refundable"Some fare types are non-refundable or only partially refundable, subject to our Conditions of Carriage or applicable law. However, if you choose not to travel,contact us to request a refund of certain third-party charges and Government taxes

that may be included in your fare: excluding fuel and insurance surcharges."

Air New Zealand$500 to Non-refundable"Bookings for domestic and international travel may be cancelled online, subject to the following considerations:
  • Flexi fares and Business fares may be cancelled up until departure and are fully refundable with the exception of Flexitime and Business Saver fares
  • A booking must be cancelled in full, i.e. both the outbound and return flights if a round trip"
Qatar Airways$100 to Non-refundable"To cancel your booking and get a refund of your ticket price (depending on the fare conditions of your ticket), please contact the agent/office where you booked your ticket, or if you changed your booking, contact the office where you last modified it."
Eithad Airways$200 to Non-refundable"Refunds are subject to fees and the rules of the fare that you have booked for each segment"

*This information is accurate as of September 2023. These fees are per person and may not be applicable to codeshare flights.

Compare travel insurance policies that cover cancellations

Once you enter in your details and click "Get my quote" you can filter the results by clicking trip cancellation to see which policies come out on top.

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