Drew Koshemakin, 45, booked a trip to Las Vegas for himself, his wife and his nephew in February this year and was due to fly out on October 31.
“I had saved up for a while [six years] … I told my nephew he could go anywhere when he turned 18. He wanted to go to Vegas, but it was pointless when he was 18 because he was underage,” he said.
“So we said when he turned 21 we would go. He turned 21 this year and, unfortunately, there will be no holiday for him. My nephew is quite disappointed.”
Mr Koshemakin – who lives in Kallangur, north of Brisbane – said Flight Centre refunded him $2500 that he spent on Vegas accommodation, but Virgin could not do the same.
“By going into administration, Virgin wiped their hands of their debts,” he said.
“I have travel insurance through Flight Centre, so I’m covered for $15,000, but there is a clause saying if I cancel my flights, I only get up to 75 per cent of that back … about $12,500.
“Virgin offered me future travel credits, but I have been in contact with them and they can’t guarantee they’ll be running international flights in the future.”
Mr Koshemakin said he couldn’t guarantee he would be in a position for regular domestic travel.
“There is nothing I can really book, they’ve only just eased the travel restrictions within Australia … and I’ve got to work. I can’t just take a heap of time off and go flying around the country,” he said.
Mr Koshemakin has to book his $23,000 of domestic flights on Virgin Australia-operated services before July 21, 2022, and he must travel on those flights before June 30, 2023.
A Virgin Australia Group spokesman said in a statement that to date, more than 80,000 flights have been booked by customers using Future Flight credits.
“We’re hopeful that international travel will resume in this time and customers will be able to use the credits for any future service operated by Virgin,” the statement said.
“We’re pleased to see many of our customers already using their Future Flight credits to redeem flights across the Virgin network, and we expect this to continue as travel restrictions ease.”
Mr Koshemakin said he had joined the Facebook group Travel Industry Issues: The Need For Change for Australians – run by consumer advocate Adam Glezer – which gave him “a wealth of knowledge”.
“The first thing I thought when I heard about Drew’s situation was that he will simply never spend that amount of money on local flights in time,” Mr Glezer said.
“I understand Virgin went into administration, but at the end of the day, you can’t put everyone in the same box … you have to take it on a case-by-case basis.
“If someone booked an international flight and you can’t offer an international flight in return, it should be an automatic refund.”
Toby Crockford is a breaking news reporter at the Brisbane Times