Virgin Australia has extended fee-free booking flexibility for travel until June 30 in a bid to give customers spooked by Australia’s domestic border closures more peace of mind.
The increased flexibility — the airline had previously offered it for travel until March 31 — is available for bookings made by March 31 under a revised customer policy.
The announcement was accompanied by a snap “happy hour” sale until midnight AEDT January 14 involving 300,000 fares starting at $69 one-way.
The move comes as COVID outbreaks and fears about new variants disrupted the holiday plans of thousands of Australians over the Christmas break.
A Virgin spokesman said the announcement was about giving customers peace of mind when making new bookings or changing an existing booking.
“We’ve seen many travelers’ plans impacted by domestic border restrictions and so we’re here to give them comfort when booking a Virgin Australia flight that they’ll be able to change their travel date if they need to,’’ he said.
“With a vaccine on the way, coupled with the fantastic way Australians have managed the pandemic, we’re optimistic that border restrictions will be lifted in the not-too-distant future.
“Our extended flexibility will help to give travelers the confidence they need to make a booking and plan that long-awaited holiday or family reunion, knowing that the booking is protected.”
Australian carriers have not been as generous as some of their overseas counterparts when it comes to change fees.
American Airlines, for example, eliminated all change fees for first, business, premium economy for all domestic and short-haul international flying for tickets issued from August 31.
United Airlines also permanently eliminated change fees on all standard economy and premium cabin tickets for travel within the US.
By contrast, Qantas has a complicated cancelation system that depends on when a passenger booked their flight and when they travel.
Passengers on flights before March 31 can cancel a booking and retain the full value as a flight credit.
Passengers need to request the flight credit before departure and travel must be taken by December 31, 2022.
“When you’re ready to rebook, you’ll need to cover any change fee and any fare increase in your new booking, if applicable,” the airline says on its website.
Those traveling after March 31 can also request a flight credit if they rebook but must travel within 12 months of their original booking date.
“Our standard fare rules apply, so you may be charged a change or cancellation fee,” the airline says. “You’ll also need to cover any fare increase in your new booking, if applicable.”