Are there any airlines which refund fare (including economy class) fully in case you don’t get visa?

I’m an Indian. I’m planning to book a journey from Mumbai to Johannesburg, South Africa and back (conference visa). I looked at refundable tickets, while they are priced higher, they give you half your money back, for instance if the to and fro flight costs INR 40,000 they give you INR 20,000 . But this is if you are cancelling for some reason.

What if you have to cancel because your visa application or the transit visa application got rejected. As far as I understand the procedure is :-

a. Buy airline tickets

b. Apply for Visa

c. Wait between 1-6 weeks to get update about your visa application, for both visa and transit visa (although transit visa should be shorter I guess.)

d. If visa is granted then move on to planning other things about the trip.

Now in case, if the visa application fails (for whatever reason ) what recourse does the traveler have ?

Are there any airlines who are better understanding than others about this situation ?

In non-refundable tickets, I guess that all is lost or is there some way to save money there too.

Lastly, I read travel insurance can help in this case. How does travel insurance help in the above scenario ?

Edit :- One of the pre-conditions of getting the visa is

Proof of a Valid Return or onward ticket or purchase of ticket. This is from http://www.vfsglobal.com/southafrica/india/pdf/Form_DHA_84_230216.pdf

and

http://www.vfsglobal.com/southafrica/india/pdf/Checklist_230216.pdf

Answer

Here are some airlines that mention refund upon visa refusal:

Looking at the fare rules for a sample of airlines, I see the following text in a sample Air China fare regarding refunds:

WAIVED FOR TICKETS ISSUED AND ORIGINATING IN CHINA IN CASE OF REJECTION OF VISA.

And a sample Qantas fare:

REFUSAL OF VISA – FULL REFUND PERMITTED IN CASE OF REFUSAL OF A TRAVEL DOCUMENT TO THE PASSENGER/ ACCOMPANYING PASSENGER AS EVIDENCED BY WRITTEN ADVICE FROM THE APPROPRIATE GOVERNMENT AUTHORITY.

Alternatively, you may consider investigating insurance that covers costs if a visa is denied. This may be due to a specific insurance rule, or by obtaining coverage with cancellation for any reason.

As mentioned earlier and used by other posters elsewhere, you may consider just buying fully refundable tickets, obtaining the visa, refunding them and then buying cheaper tickets as necessary.

Edit: I investigated a sample date between BOM and JNB and here are the results from looking at the fare rules on a sample ticket. Note, not every ticket on every airline would have the same rules, so this would need to be investigated in your particular case:

  • Kenya Airways KQ no
  • Ethiopian Airlines ET no
  • Emirates EK yes: FULL REFUND PERMITTED BEFORE DEPARTURE IN CASE OF REJECTION OF VISA.EMBASSY STATEMENT REQUIRED.
  • Etihad EY no
  • Air Seychelles HM no
  • Qatar Airways QR yes: FULL REFUND PERMITTED BEFORE DEPARTURE IN CASE OF REJECTION OF VISA.
  • Jet Airways 9W no
  • Egypt Air MS yes: FULL REFUND PERMITTED BEFORE DEPARTURE IN CASE OF REJECTION OF VISA.
  • Air France AF no
  • KLM no
  • Lufthansa LH yes: FULL REFUND PERMITTED BEFORE DEPARTURE IN CASE OF REJECTION OF VISA. EMBASSY STATEMENT REQUIRED.
  • Turkish Airlines TK no

Edit to explain how to reproduce above:

  1. Go to matrix, enter BOM in departing from, and JNB in destination.
  2. Put in travel dates. I entered 18 June – 25 June.
  3. Leave other fields as default and click on search.
  4. Click on a price under the airline selection in “Choose your flights”. This will restrict the selection of flights to the airline chosen, e.g. QR Qatar.
  5. Click on the price field and it will move to the Itinerary details screen
  6. Click on the rules link in How to buy this ticket
  7. In the Fare rules & restrictions screen, search the text for the word “visa” For QR:

      FULL REFUND PERMITTED BEFORE DEPARTURE IN CASE OF
      REJECTION OF VISA. WAIVERS HAS TO BE PROCESSED
      THROUGH QR OFFICES ONLY AND EMBASSY STATEMENT HAS
      TO BE PRESENTED AS SUPPORTING DOCUMENT
    

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *