Virgin Australia seemingly unphased by Qantas COVID flight credits criticism, refuses to refund disabled customer $15k

Virgin Australia seemingly unphased by Qantas COVID flight credits criticism, refuses to refund disabled customer $15k
Edited by Travel Weekly


    A blind, elderly passenger has been told she risks losing $15,000 worth of flight credits acquired over the COVID pandemic at the end of the year, and will not be able to use the money towards flights to America to visit her sick child.

    A collective total of $276 million is set to be lost by Australians who booked flights with Virgin Australia before the airline went into voluntary administration at the height of the COVID pandemic in March 2020.

    Karen Lancaster, a legally blind disability pensioner who spent $15 000 to buy return flights to LA in order to visit her family for the first time in years is set to lose the money at the end of the year.

    “I’m 71, I have some health issues,” she told ABC’s 7:30 program.

    “[My son has] had leukaemia, it might be my one last chance to see him and, I’ve never met my granddaughter, she’ll be 21 in February.”

    After her flights were cancelled in June 2020, Ms Lancaster was told she would be able to fly to Los Angeles when borders reopened. The carrier has since cut down on its international routes and Lancaster has been left with no way to fly to LA as the credits are not transferable between carriers.

    “And so I never worried I could have got my money, and then they changed their mind,” she continued.

    “They told me that they wouldn’t give me a refund, that I could use my money as a credit to go anywhere in Australia, New Zealand, Christmas Island, Bali, Fiji, Solomon Islands.”

    In response to criticism surrounding the deadline for customers affected, a Virgin spokesperson said, “We are committed to helping customers impacted by flight cancellations, and we have extended the expiry date for Future Flight Credits multiple times in recognition of the challenges COVID posed to travel.”

    “These credits will expire on 31 December 2023, over three years after they were issued.”

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