Coronavirus: Flight Centre customers only being offered some of their money back

Flight Centre customers who have had their holiday plans crushed because of COVID-19 travel restrictions are only being offered some of their money back. 

Despite airlines and accommodation offering a full refund, New Zealanders who have booked through the travel agency are being slapped with per person cancellation fees that are sometimes half the cost of the booking itself. 

Lara Devereux should have been on a beach in Bali on Thursday - she booked a family holiday for her partner and their six children through Flight Centre. 

Her flights were cancelled because of COVID-19, so she kept a credit and asked for an accommodation refund but she only got some of her money back. That's because of a $350 cancellation fee for each member of her family.

"It's $2800 so it was a lot of money for going nowhere," Devereux told Newshub. 

Stuart Douce also booked his holiday through Flight Centre hoping to tick Thailand off his travel bucket list. He paid $2300 for flights and accommodation for himself and his partner but if they want the refund, Douce said they have to accept a $650 cancellation fee each or opt for credit.

"Flight Centre's taking New Zealand travellers for a ride!" Douce said.

Consumer New Zealand says it has received a steady stream of complaints regarding Flight Centre's cancellation penalties.

"Given the extortionate amount that they're paying, this could be an unreasonable charge and it could raise issues under the unfair contract provisions of the Fair Trading Act," said Jon Duffy of Consumer NZ. 

Flight centre says customers agree to the disclosed $350 cancellation cost before booking, adding any additional costs could be airline fees.

The travel agency says its fee is per person but it can limit that to a maximum of two people for some group bookings. 

Thirty complaints about Flight Centre have been received by the Commerce Commission with the majority relating to its cancellation fees. The commission says it's not yet investigating but is assessing the complaints.