Etihad has confirmed it will contact consumers who booked directly with the airline, and Australia-based travel agents, to inform them that affected consumers can elect to receive a refund for a cancelled flight, even if they previously accepted a flight credit.
It’s a move that consumers will welcome but could have knock-on effects for accom providers if booking cancellations flood in rather than requests to reschedule.
From 26 March 2020, Etihad’s published COVID-19 rebooking policy did not provide consumers with the right to refund flights cancelled due to the pandemic. Etihad updated this policy on 3 June 2020 to extend offers of refunds for flights scheduled to depart from Australia; the airline was already offering refunds for flights departing from a number of other regions, including the US and European Union.
Following recent engagement with the ACCC’s COVID-19 Taskforce, Etihad has now further revised its policy by offering refunds to all consumers in Australia who purchased tickets, regardless of where their flight was scheduled to depart from.
ACCC Chair Rod Sims said: “Etihad’s revised policy, and its decision to also offer refunds to consumers who weren’t previously advised of their right to a refund, should serve as a model for other airlines.”
“The protections of the Australian Consumer Law, which extend to all corporations carrying on business in Australia, prohibit making false or misleading representations about a consumer’s right to a refund, including their contractual refund rights,” Mr Sims said.
“Consumers who believe they are entitled to a refund because they booked their fare while in Australia and who are not contacted by Etihad or their Australian travel agent by 7 August 2020, should contact the business that sold them their ticket.”
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