COVID'19 Travel Update

COVID'19 Travel Update

Last updated: 2nd May 2020

As you would be aware, the coronavirus has had an enormous impact on the travel industry around the world. Despite this, Universal Traveller, and our parent company, Flight Centre Travel Group, currently is, and will continue to work through all upcoming bookings in order of departure date. We are prioritising customers who need to return home from overseas, and any travel booked between now and end of April, so please bear with us.

A message from Graham "Skroo" Turner, CEO Flight Centre Travel Group. Read more.

An Update To Our Change & Cancellation Policy

On 2 May 2020 we announced an amendment to our Change and Cancellation Policy for our customers.

To support Australians during this difficult time, Universal Traveller and our parent company Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG) has made the decision to completely waive our usual Cancellation Fees for bookings where the travel provider (usually an airline, cruise line or tour operator) has cancelled its service - and you are unable to travel as a result.

The waiver, which is in addition to the other waivers and amendments that we have announced previously, follows ongoing discussions with customers and regulators, including the ACCC, and will apply retrospectively to bookings cancelled as a result of COVID-19 on or after 13 March 2020 for which a Cancellation Fee was charged. Please note this waiver applies to our fees – we cannot waive fees or conditions that airlines and other third party suppliers impose.

We also announced our offer of an additional credit voucher, which can be redeemed with the Flight Centre brand, of up to $200 per person to customers who choose to keep their money on file with us. For all information on these new changes, please read our FAQs below.

We do hope that this further and final step to support our customers alleviates any ongoing concerns you may have with your travel booking. The health, safety and support of our customers remains our top priority and we again thank you for your ongoing support and your feedback to our business.

Information for impacted customers due to Virgin Australia announcement

Due to the ongoing challenges of coronavirus, Virgin Australia has made the decision to cancel all of their remaining regular public transport (RPT) flights other than a single daily Melbourne to Sydney flight and the underwritten Los Angeles and Hong Kong flights.

The impact of these changes will be for flights departing Friday 10 April until Monday 15 June 2020. Should demand increase prior to 15 June, Virgin Australia has advised they will start to increase flights.

If your flight is departing between Friday 10 April and Monday 15 June, your booking value will be held in credit. There is no need to contact us. Your flight tickets will be on hold for use as credit for future flights with Virgin.

We will be in touch with instructions on how to use this credit.

Message for existing customers

If you are currently travelling and need to return home, or have upcoming travel planned and have booked with Universal Traveller, please read the below Booking FAQs for what you need to do. This has information on Universal Traveller's own change and cancellation policy, noting supplier terms and fees may apply, as well as instructions for customers who are currently overseas.

We are working closely with our suppliers to ensure that customers’ travel plans are rerouted, rebooked or offered a travel credit for a future date where possible.

FAQs

Q: I am currently overseas and am concerned about how I will get home. What can I do?

A: Booked with a Store (Over the phone or in person)
Please only contact your UTrav Agent of your UTrav Store. Alternatively, please complete this form online if you are not travelling within the next 5 days and we will respond as soon as possible: Booked in Store

Booked online
Please complete this form online and we will respond as soon as possible: Booked online.

If you are in a country that has closed their borders or introduced travel restrictions and you are unable to leave, please follow the advice of local authorities.

Q: Who do I contact to change or cancel an existing booking?

Booked with a store (Over the phone or in person):
Please only contact your UTrav Agent or your UTrav Store. Alternatively, please complete this form online if you are not travelling within the next 5 days and we will respond as soon as possible: Booked in Store.

Booked online
Please complete this form online and we will response as soon as possible: Booked online.

What will happen to the credit or deposit that I have with Flight Centre?
Regardless of where you made your original booking, the credit or deposit lies with Flight Centre Travel Group and will be accessible through any Flight Centre store for your future bookings.

Q: Can I put my booking value towards a future credit?

A: Yes, if you choose to keep the full amount of your booking (less any supplier cancellation fees) on file with Universal Traveller, the credit will be valid until at least 31 December 2021, and no cancellation fees will be charged. We will continue to review this date in line with travel restrictions. No fees will be charged when you rebook using your credit. Please note that as Universal Traveller recently merged with the Flight Centre business, all credits will be moved over to Flight Centre and valid for use on in store or online bookings.

Q: What if my international booking/cruise has been cancelled or can I cancel my international booking?

A: If you have paid in full you have two options:

Your airline or travel provider e.g. tour or cruise company, may have offered you a credit with them. If this is the case, that credit sits with the airline or travel provider and not with Universal Traveller. We can assist you in rebooking using that credit, in accordance with that airline or supplier's credit and booking Terms and Conditions when you are ready to travel.

If you are not offered, or do not take, a credit with an airline or travel provider your options are:

  • If you choose to keep the full amount of your booking (less any supplier fees which can be up to 100% of the booking value) on file with Universal Traveller, this credit will be valid until at least 31 December 2021, and no cancellation fees will apply. We will continue to review this date in line with travel restrictions. If, at the end of this period, you are unable to use the credit and choose to have your money refunded, we will gladly action this, without incurring any fees.
  • If your booking has been cancelled by the supplier due to coronavirus, then as per the updates to our cancellation policy as published above on 2 May 2020, these cancellation fees have been waived. Please note that the supplier fees may still apply.
  • If you are seeking a refund for a cancellation of your own accord, then we will apply our standard $300 cancellation fee (capped at $600 per booking for two or more customers). Please note that the supplier fees will also apply.

Please note that supplier cancellation terms and fees may differ. No refunds can be issued until we have received final refunds from our suppliers.

We appreciate that these are difficult times for our customers. Should you be at all concerned with any of our policies, here is the ACCC's website referencing cancellation policies within the travel and event industries.

Q: What if my domestic booking has been cancelled or I cancel my domestic booking (including Trans Tasman)?

A: Your airline or travel provider e.g. hotel, cruise or tour operator may have offered you a credit with them . If this is the case, that credit sits with the airline or travel provider and not with Universal Traveller. We can assist you in rebooking using that credit, in accordance with that airline or supplier's credit and booking Terms and Conditions when you are ready to travel.

We will waive Universal Traveller's $30.00 per person domestic and Trans Tasman change fee if the airline or supplier is also waiving their change fees.

Where a domestic or Trans Tasman booking is cancelled and a credit is not offered by the airline or supplier or you have chosen not to take the credit offered by the airline or supplier your options are:

  • If you choose to keep the full amount of your booking (less any supplier fees which can be up to 100% of the booking value ) on file with Universal Traveller this credit will be valid until at least 31 December 2021, and no cancellation fees will apply. We will continue to review this date in line with travel restrictions. If, at the end of this period, you are unable to use the credit and choose to have your money refunded, we will gladly action this, without incurring any fees. Please bear in mind that the majority of domestic and Trans Tasman airfares and many travel products are non-refundable so a credit with the airline or supplier is likely to be your best option if offered.
  • If you are seeking a refund for a cancellation of your own accord, we will apply our standard $50 cancellation fee (capped at $100 per booking for two or more customers). Please note that the supplier fees will also apply and can be up to 100% of the value of your booking. As above, please note that the majority of domestic and TransTasman airfares and many travel products are non-refundable so a credit offered by the airline or supplier is likely to be your best option if offered.

For all domestic bookings paid in full our normal cancellation fees apply. Supplier fees may also apply. Please note that Supplier cancellation terms and fees may differ. No refunds can be issued until we have received final refunds from our suppliers

Q: I've made a booking but only paid a deposit. What are my options?

A: All deposits are non-refundable, however, where supplier conditions permit, we will retain the value of the deposit as a Universal Traveller credit. This credit will be valid until at least 31 December 2021, and will be redeemable through Flight Centre due to the recent merge of the Universal Traveller business into Flight Centre We will continue to review this date as we evaluate the continuing impact of travel restrictions.

Q: How long can my travel credit sit on file?

A: Your credit will be valid until at least 31 December 2021. We will continue to review this date as we evaluate the continuing impact of travel restrictions. Please note that as Universal Traveller has recently merged with the Flight Centre, all future credits will be available for redemption through Flight Centre.

Cancellation FAQs

What are the new cancellation fees?

We have waived our cancellation fees in the situation where a third party supplier cancels its service and the holiday or travel can’t proceed.

Please be aware that if your suppliers haven’t yet cancelled their services, this new policy does not yet apply to you. You may be better to wait until closer to your travel date and may then receive more favourable conditions.

Supplier policies are changing constantly and vary widely. In many cases, they are also reasonably short-term in application. This means that if you do have longer term bookings, you may not yet have clarity around final amendment or cancellation positions and it may be in your interests to wait for further updates from the travel service provider at this time.

If you cancel of your own accord, our cancellation policy remains the same; a fee with a cap of $600 will apply to any international booking (previously $300 per person) and a fee with a cap of $100 per booking for domestic travel (previously $50 pp), regardless of the number of people in the booking.

These fees are only charged if you wish to receive a refund on your booking. If you choose to keep the money as a credit with Universal Traveller this will move to Flight Centre, and this credit will be valid until at least 31 December 2021. If at that time you are unable to use the credit and choose to have your money refunded, we will gladly action this, and no fees will be charged.

I have already received a refund, can I get extra money back?

Yes, we are applying the new fee rules to all bookings refunded due to Coronavirus, even if you have already received your refund. If under these new fees you are entitled to a further refund, the refunds team will be in contact with you when they get to your booking. Please note that this can take up to 12 weeks, and we appreciate your patience.

I have already submitted my refund request, do I need to do anything else?

No, you do not need to do anything. Your Travel Agent (if you booked in store), or the Website Customer Support team (if you booked online) will work through each booking to ensure the correct fee is applied, and the new amount refunded to you. You will receive an email or phone call from our centralised refunds team and your Travel Agent when we are processing your refund.

Can I get a refund if I paid more than the minimum deposit?

If you have paid a deposit which is more than the minimum required, we will place the minimum required deposit into a credit for later use, and refund the excess amount paid, without charging any fees.

Government Travel Advice

For Coronavirus travel advice please see details released by SMARTRAVELLER.

If you are currently travelling or have just returned to Australia, please read recommendations by the Australian Department of Health.

Call Centre Wait Times

We know that you are experiencing extremely long wait times when trying to call us. Due to official advice and regulations implemented for Coronavirus – and for the health and safety of our employees – we have staff who are unable to come into the call centre, therefore we have a smaller workforce during this time.

Flight Centre is Australia's biggest travel company. We have supported our customers through similarly difficult situations before, and will continue to do so in the future. We are here to make sure that you and your family are safe in any travel plans and we will of course be here for you when you are ready to travel again.

For our full booking terms and conditions please click here.

Please note: Supplier cancellation terms and fees may differ. Refunds may take up to 12 weeks and cannot be issued until we have received final refunds from suppliers.

Impact on Travel (Summary)

Each of Universal Traveller suppliers have their own policies regarding refunds and cancellations. Suppliers have been updating their policies frequently as the global situation has evolved. Universal Traveller will assist our customers with changing or canceling their reservations based on each supplier’s current policy. Here is the latest information we have from each supplier:

Touring

Airlines