The coronavirus pandemic has caused huge problems for airlines around the world, with most now suspending almost all international travel.
And while Qatar Airways has announced numerous service increases with the aim of getting people home as airlines end routes and national borders close, there are still thousands of customers being affected by cancelled flights, or who no longer wish to fly in the coming weeks or months.
One thing to bear in mind is that all airlines are overwhelmed by the current situation. Customer service agents are dealing with an unprecedented number of calls, and airlines are prioritising the processing of people stuck abroad who are trying to get home.
So what are your options if you are or were due to fly?
Claiming a voucher
Most airlines want their customers to claim a voucher for future travel rather than a refund, so are making it as easy as possible to do so.
With Qatar Airways, for all trips on or before September 30, 2020 (including if you book it now), you can claim a non-refundable voucher for travel on a different date or to a different destination on or before September 30, 2020.
The airline is also offering a 10 per cent bonus on the value of the original booking (taxes excluded), though you will have to pay any additional fare difference.
You can submit your voucher request here.
The voucher is non-refundable and only valid for Qatar Airways marketed flights.
If you have a partially-used ticket, you can claim a voucher for the unutilised amount.
We have contacted the airline to ask whether you can get an additional voucher if your new flight costs less than the original.
You can also call to change your ticket rather than claiming a voucher, though bear in mind that you may struggle to get through right now.
Claiming a refund
Understandably given all the uncertainty right now, some people would rather just cancel their flight and get a refund.
If your flight has been cancelled, you are entitled to a full refund with no penalties attached. To claim it you can also use this form (select ‘refund’ and fill in your details).
The refund will be processed to your original payment method.
Again, you can call a customer service agent, but the lines are currently extremely busy.
If your flight hasn’t been cancelled, you can cancel the flight and get a refund, but this will incur any penalties that were attached to your original ticket.
I’m still having issues
While customer service agents are swamped, airlines are also changing their policies as a result of the crisis, sometimes day by day.
Business Traveller readers have written to tell us some airlines aren’t following the latest policies that have been announced.
One says: “I purchased a ticket from Istanbul to Adelaide. A few days later Qatar Airways emailed saying the flight was cancelled, and provided a ‘transport credit voucher’.
“When I booked a flight back to Sydney I was unable to use said ‘transport credit voucher’, despite assurances, thus had to pay in full for the flight back.
“Qatar failed to respond to contact via their customer care.”
Another was told by Amex Travel that the latest Qatar Airways policies – as reported by Business Traveller – couldn’t be enacted as its website had not been updated (it now has).
While it’s not ideal (and really, there’s little about the current situation that is) patience is the name of the game. Your rights are what we have listed above.
So if there is any way you can wait for a few weeks to claim your refund, we recommend you do so, when the dust settles and there are more people available to help you.
We have also had reports of people having tickets cancelled, only to see the same flight still selling seats at a much higher cost. We have contacted the airline for comment.
What if I booked through a travel agent?
You will need to contact whoever you booked your ticket through to process any refunds or rebookings. Unfortunately, there have been reports of some travel agents refusing to honour their existing policies. This may because they are unable to get a refund from an airline or hotel themselves. Remember to check the policy from the time you booked the ticket.
Finally, note that we are not associated with Qatar Airways. Please share your experiences with us in comments, but do not include sensitive information such as your booking details.
If you have further questions, let us know and we will put them to the airline.
You can also read our advice pieces for other airlines here: