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Overseas travel in and out of Australia has been steadily increasing over the course of this year, as the world starts to open up again following the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns.

But with Covid still very much part of everyday life, there is still some risk associated with travelling, including the risk that your flight might be cancelled or significantly delayed or that restrictions are put in place that prevent you from being able to get on your booked flight.

What are your rights if you can’t get on a flight that you have booked and paid for?

And what are the flow on effects for other things you have booked, like accommodation and events?

Flights

If your flight is cancelled, whether you are entitled to a refund will depend on the terms and conditions of your booking. Some travel providers will give customers a full refund, while others may offer a credit for a re-booking.

If you’re unsure what you are entitled to, you should first check the terms and conditions of your booking and seek legal advice if you’re unsure about your rights or if you think your travel provider has not complied with their obligations under the terms and conditions.

We recommend that you read the terms and conditions before booking any flights, especially the cancellation and refund polices.  Different options with the same airline offer different rights to cancel or re-book.

Other bookings

So, your flight has been cancelled or delayed – what now? What about the accommodation you had paid for? Or the event you had tickets for and missed out on?

Again, you should check the terms and conditions of your bookings to see what (if anything) they say about refunds and cancellations. They might offer you a refund, or at least a credit towards another booking.

Your first step should be to contact the service provider to try to sort out a resolution. If that doesn’t work, the organisation may have a dispute resolution process you can pursue, failing which you could lodge a complaint with the ACCC.

Passport delays

Australia is currently experiencing significant delays in issuing new passports. Between January and March this year, nearly 400,000 Australian passports were issued, which is more than double the amount that were issued in that time period in 2021.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade are recommending that people allow at least six weeks for their passport to arrive.

But what happens if you’ve booked an overseas trip and your passport doesn’t arrive in time? Are you entitled to receive a refund on your bookings?

You guessed it – it depends what the terms and conditions of your bookings say in relation to cancellations and refunds. It’s possible that if you cancel your bookings with enough notice, you will be entitled to a full refund, but you should check the wording of your contract to be sure. It’s best practise to give as much notice as possible if you need to cancel any of your bookings.

Insurance

You should also be mindful of what your travel insurance policy says. Even if your travel provider or accommodation doesn’t offer a refund or reimbursement for cancellations, your insurance might cover you.

Again, as with everything else, you need to check the wording of your insurance policy.

Also, check with your credit card provider because often flights and other holiday purchases paid on credit cards have insurance provided for them.

Our best advice is to make sure you have travel insurance whenever you book a trip, whether it’s international or domestic. It’s also a good idea to read the details of the policy to see what you are covered for. Some insurance policies may exclude covid-related losses, so that’s something to look out for when choosing which insurance to go with.

If a trip you’ve booked hasn’t gone to plan, whether your flight was cancelled or your passport didn’t arrive on time, or anything else, don’t hesitate to contact Lynn & Brown Lawyers for advice about your rights and entitlements. We can assist you to review the relevant terms and conditions and negotiate resolutions on your behalf.

About the authors: This article has been co-authored by Chelsea McNeill and Steven Brown. Chelsea is a lawyer that graduated from Murdoch University. Steven is a Perth lawyer and director, and has over 20 years’ experience in legal practice and practices in commercial law, dispute resolution and estate planning.

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