Emirates has thanked trade partners for their patience during the coronavirus crisis, and pledged "to put customers first" with an overhaul of its waiver and refund policy which should make it easier for agents to make amendments on behalf of clients.
The Gulf carrier on Tuesday (14 April) confirmed the introduction of a new global re-booking and refund system, which will apply across all of its global markets.
It comes after Emirates amended its stance several times last month owing to new travel restrictions arising from the coronavirus pandemic.
Chief commercial officer Adnan Kazim said the airline understood unravelling "complicated rulebooks" for fares, re-bookings and refunds was "confusing and frustrating" for customers and trade partners.
Passengers now have three options; to keep their tickets, which will be extended for 760 days; request a travel voucher valid for a year from date of issue, with the option to extend this for a further year; or apply for a refund without penalty.
"The Covid-19 pandemic is unprecedented for everyone, and we’d like to thank our customers and trade partners for their patience, understanding and support," said Kazim.
"We sincerely hope our customers will choose to rebook and fly with us again at a later time, and that is why we’re offering up to two years validity on their current tickets, or travel vouchers which can be redeemed for any Emirates product or service.
"Any fees for making a change to the tickets will be waived for tickets issued until 31 May 2020 for travel up to 31 August 2020. However, if they would still like to opt for a refund, we will process that.
"We would just like to seek our customers’ understanding that refunds will take time as we have a significant backlog to manage.”
Requests can be made through a simple online form at emirates.com/english/help/refund-request.
Agents with clients flying with Emirates can manage the booking on their behalf.
Emirates’ new policy, in full, is as follows:
All Emirates tickets booked before 31 May for travel up to 31 August will be automatically extended for 760 days. Customers holding such tickets can be assured their tickets will be honoured, and they can rebook when they decide to travel.
Whenever they are ready to travel again, within two years from the day their ticket was originally issued, they simply need to contact Emirates or their travel agents to reschedule their flight. Their ticket will be accepted for any flight to the same Emirates destination or to another city within the same Emirates region with no fees for changes.
Those who wish to rebook their ticket to travel to another region can also do so – Emirates will not charge reissuance fees, only any applicable fare difference.
Travel vouchers are valid for one year from date the voucher was issued, and can be extended for a second year.
The voucher can be used for any Emirates product or service, which means customers can use it to offset charges for flights to any destination in any cabin class, or other services.
No change fees apply to this voucher, so customers will have more flexibility to reschedule when they are ready to travel again.
Customers who have opted to keep their ticket or opted for a travel voucher can still apply for a refund, if they are unable to travel. There will be no refund penalties.