Simon Calder's Holiday Helpdesk: I want to postpone a trip to Australia because of the extreme weather. What are my options?
Every day our travel guru answers your travel questions
Simon Calder’s career in travel started at Gatwick Airport, where he cleaned aircraft for Laker Airways and later worked as a security officer. He became The Independent’s Travel Correspondent in 1994, and is known as “the Man Who Pays His Way” because he does not accept free travel facilities. He writes across the Independent titles, as well as for the Evening Standard.
Wednesday 16 January 2013
Q. I am booked to fly to Australia this weekend, but because of the extreme weather over the past couple of weeks, I want to postpone the trip for a month or so. What are my options?
A. Very few, I am afraid – possibly distilling down to just “Cancel and lose all your cash, or go anyway”. Almost everyone who books between the UK and Australia is travelling on a heavily restricted ticket. Typically, no changes are allowed to the outbound date, and inbound flights may only be postponed for a hefty fee.
Should adverse weather mean your flight is cancelled, then you would have the right – in most circumstances – to claim a full refund and book another trip for later. But the wild weather has so far not had any significant effect on international flight schedules. And if the airline can take you safely to the airport shown on your ticket, then it has no further obligation – even if you don’t want to go.
Having said that, they will often offer some flexibility if natural disasters occur. Airlines flying between Tasmania and mainland Australia have been offering passengers the chance to postpone their trips – but that is only for domestic flights. British Airways, which flies daily from Heathrow to Sydney, says it is keeping the situation under review, but at present if you’re booked to fly you have no rights to change your trip. And Emirates, which is now the market leader between the UK and Australia, tells me: “Emirates are not offering any waivers on changing dates and destinations for passengers who have booked tickets to fly to or from these destinations during this period”.
If you happen to be planning a trip to one of the worst-affected areas, you may find your travel insurance could sustain a claim. But otherwise, step aboard that plane and make the most of Australia.
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