Airlines plead ‘please be patient’
Airlines are pleading with customers to be patient as customer service lines are bombarded with anxious travellers wanting to change or cancel their flights due to Australia's strict new coronavirus control measures.
Today Tigerair released a travel alert asking customers who are not scheduled to fly with the airline within the next 48 hours to delay contact to allow more urgent matters to be dealt with.
"We are currently experiencing a high volume of customer inquiries and long call wait times. We are doing everything we can to assist you as quickly as possible," the statement - also posted to the airline's social media channels - said.
Tigerair Australia customers with new or existing bookings for travel between 15 March through to 30 June 2020 are being provided the option to change their flight to a later date and/or to a different destination, without incurring a change fee. https://t.co/0gER69RphK pic.twitter.com/GoxF5GIodi— Tigerair Australia (@TigerairAU) March 15, 2020
Virgin Australia has released a similar message to customers, adding "we are aware of new travel restrictions announced by the Australian Government and are assessing our response. We understand these restrictions may affect guests travel plans."
Both Virgin Australia and Tigerair (owned by Virgin) are waiving change fees for domestic and international bookings for travel up until June 30, 2020. This includes changes to dates and destinations, with a maximum of one change per domestic booking.
Payment will be required for any fare difference or applicable taxes.
Qantas and Jetstar are experiencing the same problems, posting to Facebook "We know you may be feeling uncertain with your upcoming travel. We have a huge amount of calls coming in to our call centre and messages via social media."
"To make sure we can get back to everyone, we're responding to those travelling within the next 72 hours first."
Qantas and Jetstar customers can cancel their flights and retain the value of the booking as a travel credit voucher. This applies to bookings on any domestic or international flight until May 31. This needs to be processed by March 31.
The relaxing of cancellation policy comes after strict new travel measures were announced by the Australian Government at the weekend that meant as of today (March 16) any Australians returning from overseas must self-isolate for 14 days - regardless of destination, age, or health.
And since March 13 the official advice for Australians has been to reconsider their need to travel overseas completely.
A higher advice level of "do not travel" applies to Italy, Iran, and China - where the pandemic began.